4 Books to Review4 Book Reviews for the New Year

I love being able to review new books, especially in the New Year when I have lots of aspirations of getting organized and learning something new. Out of the many books I’ve received to review, these four are the ones I knew you’d like as much as I do. As a bonus, they will either help you learn a new skill or push you to get more organized this year.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

To start, I have not one, but two books on hand lettering. I wanted to choose one as a superior book, but ultimately I think they both have their merits on your bookshelf.

Let’s start with Extraordinary Hand Lettering by Doris Wai

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Book

Ms. Wai does an excellent job of explaining the tools and tricks you’ll need to improve your hand lettering.

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Tools

Extraordinary Hand Lettering really shines when it comes to introducing a plethora of projects you can create with your new found skills. From shower gifts. . .

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Gift Ideas 1

. . . to home decor, more gifts, and special events. I thoroughly enjoyed leafing through this book for creative ideas. If you have some hand lettering skills and want loads of inspiration, this is the book I’d recommend.

Extraordinary Hand Lettering Gift Ideas 2

The other hand lettering book I received is Mastering Hand-Lettering by Mye DeLeon.

Mastering Hand-Lettering Book

This book goes into great detail about the forming of letters and typography.

Mastering Hand Lettering About Typography

For people who geek out about the art of lettering (like myself), this is your book. It’s also an impressive primer for teaching you how to hone your lettering skills.

Mastering Hand Lettering How to Draw Letters

Mye DeLeon goes into depth about how to create decorative typography and how to layout your phrases to be beautiful works of art. If you are brand new to hand lettering, this is the book I’d recommend.

Mastering Hand-Lettering Book - Layout example

I should also mention that I am a big fan of The Busy Girl’s Guide to Hand Lettering. Especially if you are the type of learner that likes video instruction.

I was definitely excited to receive Black + Decker’s Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair.

Black + Decker Home Repair Book

In the past, I have recommended Home Depot’s Home Improvement 1-2-3, but the book is currently out of print and hard to get a copy of. Which is why I thinkComplete Photo Guide to Home Repair is a more accessible option.

Each page features clear full color photos to help you understand the project before you pick up a tool.

Home Repair book plumbing example

From plumbing, electrical, roofing and more, this is the book that every homeowner should own!

Home Repair Book - roofing example

To show you how complete the book is, I’ve included a copy of the table of contents.

Page 1 of Contents of Home Repair bookContents of Home Repair book

Finally, I am thrilled to review Organization Hacks by Carrie Higgins

Organization Hacks by Carrie Higgins

Carrie Higgins, has filled this book with over 350 ideas to help you get your space more organized.

Organization Hacks chalkboard wall project

She offers cost effective solutions and tutorials to control the clutter.

Organizational Hacks Makeup Hack

Personally I love the tips that help you squeeze more storage into your home. Anyone who strives to be more organized deserves a copy of this book. The inexpensive price makes this book a no brainer, so go ahead and order your copy of Organization Hacks now.

Organization Hacks - kitchen wrap storage hack

I hope you found these reviews helpful. I always look forward to reviewing new books for your library.

Disclosure: I received all of these books as complimentary review copies. I receive a lot of books but only share the ones I feel are worth owning. All opinions are my own.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

During the summer when the weather gets hot and humid, I like to curl up inside the air conditioned house with an iced coffee and a new DIY book for inspiration. This year, I have 4 DIY Books that I’m Digging. I know you’ll enjoy at least one or two (if not all four) of these DIY books!

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick

Sara took her years of landscaping experience and poured it into Big Impact Landscaping, a book full of DIY ideas you can use in your own yard.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

(Scroll Down to Enter to Win This Book!)

Each of the projects outlined in Big Impact Landscaping are easy to follow with a complete list of tools, materials . . .

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

. . . and step-by-step directions with photos.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

The projects cover a wide variety of categories: from pathways and exterior structures, to fire or water features and gardens.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

If you have struggled with plants or your yard, Big Impact Landscaping is a book that will turn your failures into successes.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Flea Market Style from Better Homes and Gardens

I was thrilled to get a copy of Flea Market Style in my hands, because I purchased an older copy of this book from 2005 at a yard sale. I enjoyed many hours leafing through that book and was anxious to read this updated copy.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Each page is colorful eye candy for anyone who likes eclectic decorating with antiques and flea market finds.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Flea Market Style is equal parts design inspiration and tips for finding valuable items at flea markets and second hand stores.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

This book is sure to provide plenty of enjoyment while you browse through spread after beautiful spread. Flea Market Style will make a great addition to any coffee table.

Crafting with Wood Pallets by Becky Lamb

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

You have probably witnessed the popularity of wood pallet projects. These (oftentimes) free shipping vessels are finding their way into homes and yards throughout the world. Crafting with Wood Pallets is filled with several tutorials for projects you can make for your home, apartment, or your yard.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

I appreciate that the author has gone into extensive detail about how to find pallets, which pallets are safe to use and what tools you’ll need to pull them apart. You’ll find many unique projects for the beginning and intermediate DIYer within this book.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Crafting with Wood Pallets gives you all the tips and skills to begin creating your own crafts, decor, and furniture immediately.

DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture & Decor by James Angus

The industrial style is a growing trend in home design. Working with plumbing pipes can seem intimidating at first, but DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture & Decor will break down the process of creating with industrial pipes into simple to follow plans.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

The first few pages get you up to speed on which pipe fittings you want to purchase and how to clean them before using industrial pipes in your home.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

The rest of the book is devoted to step-by-step tutorials for creating your own furniture and fixtures for your home.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

I have to admit that I haven’t worked with iron pipes yet, but after reading DIY Industrial Pipe Furniture & DecorI have my mind set on creating something soon with pipes.


Which of these books will end up on your bookshelf? I hope you enjoy leafing through them as we plow through the dog days of summer.

4 DIY Books I'm Digging | Pretty Handy Girl

Enter to Win a Copy of Big Impact Landscaping!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

(Terms & Conditions: Winner will be shipped one copy of Big Impact Landscaping by Sara Bendrick. Winners will be selected randomly. Entries must be received by Friday, July 14th, 2017 at 11:59pm EST. Contest open to Continental US residents only. Must be an adult aged 18 and older. Winner will be notified by Wednesday, July 19th, 2017 via email. Winner must reply to email within 2 days of receiving the notice. Please be sure you have [email protected] as an acceptable email address. Prizes will be fulfilled by Sara Bendrick. Pretty Handy Girl cannot be held responsible for prizes that are lost or damaged en route.)

Disclosure: All of these books were sent to me for a potential book review. I receive a lot of complimentary books, not all of them make my cut for sharing them on the blog. I was not paid to endorse any of the books. All opinions are my own.

Want more book recommendations? This is what I read last summer:

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl


Vintage Map Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl
Do you want to update a plain vanilla lamp shade? Do you have a vacation you want to remember? You can do both with this vintage map lampshade!

The process to create a Vintage Map Lampshade is easy, especially if your lamp shade is close to a perfect cylinder. But, what do you do when you have a cone shaped shade? The instructions are a little more complicated, but I can show you how.

Pull up a seat and I’ll show you how to create a cool decorated lampshade. (Keep in mind you don’t have to use maps. You could use wallpaper, fabric, a poster, or anything you want!) Let’s do this.

Vintage Map Lampshade | Pretty Handy Girl

During a trip to my local thrift store, I discovered an old atlas and knew I could use it for oodles of projects. As I walked out of the store a flood of ideas came to me. One of them was to make a Vintage Map Lampshade.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

To add a vintage glaze you will also need:



Start by selecting the maps or paper you want to use. Carefully cut them out along the spine using a fresh x-acto blade — don’t let your blade get dull. (I use a new one for each project. Your cuts are much cleaner when working with a fresh blade.)

Set your pages aside for now.

To make a template for your shade, roll out a large piece of craft paper. Lay your lampshade on the craft paper. Start at the vertical seam on the shade (to give you a visual of where to start and stop) and set your pencil along the bottom edge of the lampshade.

Gently roll the shade on the paper and mark along the bottom edge of the shade.

When you reach the end, reverse your shade and draw along the top edge. At the end, add an inch or two for overlap. Cut along the outlines to create your lampshade template.

Tape the template onto your lamp shade using the low tack tape. Make sure it fits snugly.

Trim any excess from the edge of your template. Should you choose, trim excess to allow room for the grosgrain ribbon.

Make sure your template fits perfectly before you proceed.

Lay out your craft paper template on top of the map pages. Make any adjustments to the page layout.

Tape your map pages together using clear packing tape on the inside only.

Trace the template on top of the map pages.

Cut out the shape along the pencil line.

Wrap the lampshade with your cut out map pages.  Clip the edges with clothes pins.

Working in small 8″ sections, brush rubber cement onto the map and the lamp shade. Wait a minute or two for the glues to dry. Then press them together. This is the best way to get maximum adhesion when using regular rubber cement. It creates a stronger bond than just one coat applied and joined while it is still wet. Alternatively you could use spray adhesive (especially if you are using fabric.)

Continue by gluing another section until you reach the end. To finish the seams on the outside, brush some rubber cement under the seams where your maps overlap. Press and hold them down until the glue dries.

Add a Vintage Aged Glaze:

Time to give your maps a vintage aged look! Pour 2 parts mod podge into an empty cup. Add about 1 part cocoa paint. Mix them together. Test some of the glaze on a scrap piece of paper. If you like the glaze color, start brushing it onto the lamp shade. Be careful not to use too much of the glaze or the paper will start to wrinkle. (If it does, no worries, some of the wrinkles will come out when it dries. Any remaining wrinkles make it look old.)

Let the glaze dry.

Cut two strips of grosgrain ribbon the circumference of your lamp shade plus an inch for overlap.

Hot glue the ribbon onto the top and bottom edges of your lamp shade. (Please, please, protect your fingers, read my hot glue gun safety post before working with hot glue!)

Put your lampshade on your favorite lamp.

Admire your unique lamp shade that brings back fond memories of a special trip.

If you make one of these, what map would be on your’s? Your home state? The place you were born? Where your family’s heritage resides? Or something completely different? I would love to hear your ideas.

Did you like this tutorial? Want to learn how to revamp another lamp shade with paint chips!

The result are a beautiful ombré lamp that is fun and colorful.


Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

Despite the fact that most people want a light-hearted beach read for summer entertainment. I have found five books that fulfill the DIY addict in me. You won’t find any hot romances, but there’s bound to be some hot tips and maybe some hot lye. (This post contains affiliate links.)

DIY HandLettering by Melissa Averinos and Asharae Kroll

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

If you ever wanted to perfect the art of handlettering, you’ll love this book. The book covers a variety of pens and tools you can use. Don’t worry, you likely have the basics to get you started. The book is filled with tutorials to letter many fonts. Once you’ve perfected your lettering, there are several DIY tutorials to make gifts and show off your new skills. This is the perfect book to help you find your beautiful penmanship. By the time the holidays roll around you’ll be able to make many beautiful handmade gifts using lettering.

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl


Crafting with Nature by Amy Renea

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

Crafting with Nature is a true delight to read. Amy offers many tutorials for using natural elements to make everything from nature! You won’t believe all the recipes and tutorials. They are not your average “crafty” assortment. Instead, this book is a sophisticated guide to creating jewelry, home decor, wreaths, home decor, and gift ideas. You won’t believe how many beautiful treasures she creates with simple lamb’s ear leaves. I will never look at any natural elements the same after reading this book.

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl


DIY Artisanal Soaps by Alicia Grosso

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

Have you ever wanted to make your own scented soaps? Alicia’s exotic recipes will have you becoming your own master artisan soap-maker in no time. DIY Artisanal Soaps offers tutorials for different processes of making soaps. Included is a comprehensive list of essential oils and colorants for making your soaps beautiful and fragrant. If you ever wanted to churn out beautiful soaps for gifts or yourself, you’ll love DIY Artisanal Soaps.

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl


Make Room for What You Love by Melissa Michaels

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

Melissa, author of The Inspired Room blog, brings us another great book! Make Room for What You Love helps you pare down your possessions by changing how you think about your home and the things in it. This is a quick read and is bound to free you from clutter and unnecessary items with simple action suggestions.

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl


The Complete Book of Home Organization by Toni Hammersley

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

This book wins the award for “book most-likely to be displayed on my coffee table”. The metal corner guards make it feel like an expensive book, when in actuality it’s less than $20.

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

The Complete Book of Home Organization is truly a complete guide to organizing your home. Each section is devoted to a specific room and offers tons of tips and challenges to get you more organized. The book is full of beautiful photos that looks more like an interior design book than a DIY book. Toni has obviously put a lot of effort into the book and it creates a resource you’ll love to browse through as you get more organized.

Summer DIY Books to Enjoy | Pretty Handy Girl

I hope you found a book to inspired your DIY passion this summer. Happy Summer y’all!


Disclosure: (I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


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I’m thrilled to share with you a selection of 3 DIY books this holiday season. If you are looking for ideas for someone on your gift list who: has children who love to create; loves rustic metal decor; or wants some simple ideas to love the home they are living in…I have the book for you!

Let’s start with C.R.A.F.T – Creating REALLY Awesome Free Things (affiliate link). This book by Jamie Dorobek was not a book I had originally planned on reviewing. But, when I opened the envelope and set the book on the counter it was instantly whisked away from me. My boys took the book and read it from front to back!

C.R.A.F.T. Book Review

Within 30 minutes, my oldest (a middle schooler) had already cut up a cereal box and was working on his own puzzle.

C.R.A.F.T. Book Review

C.R.A.F.T. Book Review

The next day, my 3rd grader had a playdate at our house. He and his friend asked for the materials to make their own Emoji masks. Read more


It’s time to make room on your bookshelf for two more beautiful books. The first is Natural Accents by Stacy Risenmay. Stacy is a good friend and fellow DIY blogger. She’s also a power tool rock star. Stacy recently released this colorful book filled with lots of ways to decorate and furnish your home with natural elements. This book follows in the footsteps of Stacy’s blog with easy to follow step-by-step tutorials.


Natural Accents is filled with projects that you can make with simple materials found in your backyard.


My favorite project is definitely this plexiglass side table. Natural Accents is filled with many more brilliant ideas!


Get your copy today, because you’ll find at least half a dozen projects you’ll want to tackle this weekend.

Natural Accents by Stacy Risenmay $22.58 on Amazon (affiliate link)



New Ceramic Surface Design by Molly Hatch is a book full of ceramic eye candy. If you’ve ever wanted to dabble in ceramic arts, this is the book you want to devour. And even if you have no interest in ceramics, this book is filled with beautiful photos on each page. I found myself being drawn through the entire book enjoying all the gorgeous art pieces.


Molly filled New Ceramic Surface Design with everything you need to know about working with clay, glazes and more. She gives her expert advice and tips to help you avoid botched projects.


I leave you with one of my favorite images from the book. This beautiful Mishima Slip Inlay design in blue and white belongs on my shelf!


Get your own copy of New Ceramic Surface Design by Molly Hatch for $20.27 on Amazon (affiliate link)


Disclosure: Natural Accents by Stacy Risenmay and New Ceramic Surface Design by Molly Hatch were sent to me at no charge to review. I was not told what to write or say about these books. 


I love being able to peruse real bound books! Browsing through blogs and online is fine, but there is no substitute for the printed word in a book.

Lucky for you, I’ve reviewed three new home, garden and design books that I think you’ll love!

The first is Decorating for Real Life by Wendy Hyde (blogger at The Shabby Nest)


Blogger Wendy Hyde began writing her blog, The Shabby Nest in 2008. She has taken her online world of decorating and design knowledge and has created a book full of magazine worthy homes. The photos may seem unachievable at first, but she breaks each room down to help you get the same look in your own home. She holds your hand and points out what makes the room work design-wise. This 208 page hardcover book is full with color photos of almost every room in a typical family home. At the end, Wendy printed several pages of grid paper and typical furniture items to help you design your own room layout.

PostBreakblueThe second book is Cultivating Garden Style by Rochelle Greayer


Rochelle takes us into a diverse world of beautiful and inspiring gardens. Her book is filled with ideas and tips to create landscaping that reflects your style, your home or your dreams. This hardcover book has over 300 pages filled with twenty three unique garden styles and step-by-step DIY projects to complete your outdoor space. Whether you like modern, Asian, Cottage or any other style, you’re sure to find inspiration in Cultivating Garden Style.


Last but certainly not least is DIY Wood Pallet Projects: 35 Rustic Modern Upcycling Ideas to Personalize Your Space by Karah Bunde (blogger at The Space Between Blog)


Karah takes her popular blog theme of upcycling and decorating using shipping pallets from the online world and into the pages of this book. She created 35 new projects using shipping pallets and gives you the step-by-step tutorial to complete each one. In the beginning of the book she discussed everything you need to know about the safety of wood pallets and how to harvest the wood from them. The rest is full of tutorials using pallet wood that will definitely be easy on your wallet.



Tips for Choosing Paint Colors | Pretty Handy Girl

Choosing paint colors can be a daunting task. Looking at small paint chips at your local Lowe’s Home Improvement store can be a bit overwhelming. Especially because there are so many colors to choose from! (That can be a good thing too ;-).)

Luckily I have two tips to help you choose the paint color that’s right for you:

1. Use Valspar paint. Finding a paint color you love is easier with Valspar. If you don’t love the first color you choose, you can have another on them. It’s as easy as, love your color, or change your color. That’s the Valspar Love Your Color Guarantee. And it certainly helps alleviate the stress of choosing the right paint color for your room.

2. Create larger paint chips. Looking at tiny paint chips won’t help you conceptualize that color over the entire wall. Making large paint swatches using foam board and sample paints is easy and can save you time when choosing the ideal paint color. I put together this short video to show you how we selected the final color for the school library.

I knew if I could create big paint chips and let the librarian live with the large chips for a few days, she’d be better prepared to make a final decision. As you saw, she was much more comfortable choosing this way.

The winning color was Montpelier Wedgewood by Valspar. And, luckily after we began painting, we all fell in love with the color she chose.

Here’s how we tackled painting the school library (acoustic ceiling tiles and all!): Read more

School Library Reveal | Pretty Handy Girl

For a month I’ve been working on the school library makeover that was facilitated by a donation from Overstock.com. This morning I got my emotional reward. I walked into the library ready to put on the finishing touches in the room. There were a few kids in the main section of the library reading. But, when I turned the corner and gazed into what used to be the dark back corner…


…I was surprised to see a dozen kids sprawled on the rug, dog beds and bean bags.

School Library Reveal | Pretty Handy Girl

They were all piled back there and quietly reading! My heart almost burst. The librarian told me it’s been like that since we finished painting. The kids love to hang out there. And not just the younger grade levels, all the kids love it! My heart is just singing with joy. Read more

Book with Hidden Storage | Pretty Handy Girl

Do you remember when you were a kid and you wanted a super secret place to hide things from your sibling? Having a secret book with a hidden storage compartment would have been perfect! Even as an adult, it’s nice to have a spot where you can hide something personal, valuable or sweet (think dark chocolate!) 😉

This DIY Decorative Hidden Storage Book is a relatively easy project, but it takes a little patience and a very sharp X-acto knife (so have a few fresh blades to replace when your blade dulls.)





  • Fat book (shop Goodwill or repurpose an old book you already own)
  • X-acto knife
  • 4-5 New X-acto blades
  • Ruler with a metal edge
  • Self-healing cutting board
  • Paint brush
  • Mod Podge
  • Gold craft paint (optional)
  • 3 Sheets of scrapbook paper (2 the same design and 1 coordinating design)
  • Scotch tape
  • Rubber cement
  • Wax paper (cereal box bags work great)
  • Cup to mix mod podge in
  • Weights or heavy objects
  • Ribbon


Instructions: Read more