Category: on my work table

the new place : project 1

In the new place (upstairs from the old place) there is a little room in the back with big windows, and a view of sweeping, weeping pines that crows and ravens roost in. Guilford Connecticut has a crazy amount of crows. Also my little garden is right below. It’s the first thing I look at every morning.
The first project after getting basic order shipping capabilities set up was to make that room delightful. It had been laundry/storage. There was indoor outdoor stained carpeting, dingy paint, wire shelves and great potential for charm. You can check out a before below- almost a before – I had already torn the carpet out.

Under the carpet was just a plywood subfloor. I painted a super simple gray and white check. The paint job is light for a worn in feel. Plus that was quick and easy to do and I like the softness of it. The walls are painted bright white (Benjamin Moore Snowfall White). And the curtain fabric is from India via Etsy.

The laundry closet is covered with a textile gift from a friend, a Peruvian (I think) poncho. I stitched the neck opening closed and added inexpensive rings. It is magically exactly the right size with no further alterations.

It’s a place I love to be. The light and breeze are excellent. There is room for a cardboard castle and all the other essential things. This place is for painting and sketching and some photography.

One of the many reasons for making a painting everyday is the wealth of ideas they generate. Most recently the funny little cats that wander through the many little towns in those paintings became a sewing pattern . You can find the free happy cat pattern right here.

Project 2 is the sewing room. Stay tuned for more on that. It is also currently full of potential to be delightful.

onward,

ann

make a travel sewing kit, mending big blow outs and a hexie punch

small cloth book with patches

It’s just the right size for a pocket. I made it for a friend who travels, a little book for essentials – like safety pins and bandaids, an emergency tea bag, that sort of thing. There is also a mini sewing kit built in and lots of good wishes for safe and happy travels. I’m sure it is lucky.

cloth book with pockets and pre-threaded sewing needles

carved twig toggle button on fabric book

The little toggle is carved from a twig. I made a notch in the center to grab the thread and stitched it to the edge. The loop is thin black twill tape. The book is made from the needle book sewing pattern using just the the page B and C templates.  The center page has one big pocket and I double sewed the seams so it won’t tear if it get’s over stuffed.

small cloth book with center pocket patch

let’s talk about mending

Not little tears and holes- the major catastrophes like this whole seat blow out. This requires some stabilizing before the sweet patch stuff.

1. Starting with the garment inside out and the tear laid flat and smooth pin a piece of light weight fabric over it. Baste that fabric in place.  Put a magazine or piece of cardboard inside so you don’t  accidentally stitch  the leg or sleeve etc. closed.

2. With the garment right side out use small even stitches all around the the edge of the tear.

trimming excess stabilizing fabric

3. Turn it inside out and trim away the extra.  I didn’t remove the basting stitches because they will mostly get covered but you can if that’s how you roll. Turn right side out and start patching. Having the area stable will save you tons of time in the long run and helps create a smooth, soft and very wearable repair.

patching over a tear in corduroy shorts

I’m still working on these shorts, check out my instagram stories this weekend (@annwood)  for more mending and other recreational sewing including hexies.

 speaking of hexies

*affiliate links below – meaning I get a small commission if you purchase through the links.

die cutter for making hexie papers and a one inch hexie quilt in progress

Did you know this was a thing? I had no idea such a magical device existed until I saw someone using one. I’ve had it for a couple weeks and I love it. Magazine covers are the perfect weight for the punch, it is not effective on anything heavier. Plus I like magazine covers for hexie papers – they hold up well to re-use.  You can find the *one inch hexie paper punch here.

And I use *this mini hole punch. The holes are not essential but they do make it easier to pull the paper out and re-use it.

small painting of a loon with babies

shop note:

Lots of new daily paintings will  be available tomorrow – 6/24 noon-ish -Connecticut time. This loon with babies is one of my all time favorites.


get the free pin girl sewing pattern here

I’m in full summer mode, I love the expanse of swimming, garden, yard sales and sewing outside that is currently before me. I’m also in full packing mode. Again.  Moving in a few weeks. Let’s think of it as another opportunity to get super organized…

die cutter for making hexie papers and a one inch hexie quilt in progress

Have you tried a hexie punch? Do you have summer mending projects or mending tips to share?  Are you reading something awesome?  Let us know in the comments.

what’s on my worktable : rag doll wardrobe patterns and hexies

hexie quilt progress on my worktable

hexie quilt progress on my worktable

A late spring update on all the things.

Let’s start with hexies : while not at all consistent, I am quite slow. The consistent part is easy to fix : commit to making one every morning, which most often leads to more, you know, once you get going on something like this…

hexie quilt with color transitions in progress

I’m starting to have a vision for the color shifts plus I’ve decided to square off the edges, meaning my progress shape has been an irregular amoeba but I’m shifting into working in straight lines.

And sewing pattern work – a wardrobe for the elegant rag doll is in progress.

Patterns take forever to make. We’d be in real trouble if I didn’t enjoy the process.
The centerpiece of the doll wardrobe will be a versatile dress, a pattern you can add or subtract details from and make a short and long sleeved version – you get the idea.

doll dresses in progress

The construction needs to be simple, easy to make, and I want an option for a fitted look. This is accomplished with pleats and gathers in strategic places. I would totally wear this.

There is another summery tea dress too but this pattern is further along. It’s in the woodshedding stage, I am making tons of them to work out details and make adjustments. After the early muslin drafts I converted the hand drawn patterns to an illustrator file and start tightening things up. I’m pretty close to a final version and as I’m sewing little dresses the pattern starts to write itself, I’m hard in the zone and hear the directions in my head whether I want to or not.

doll dress making on my worktable

Besides the other tea dress I’m thinking of a satchel, slip and pinafore. Maybe some bloomers. She’ll need a coat too  and I’m pretty sure I can make a version of the free felt jacket in her size.

small garden with cedar chest container

A couple other projects on my mind – mending and garden beginnings.

I love everything about  having a tiny garden. Except bugs. The container is a re-purposed cedar chest I got for almost zero dollars last fall. I never really loved it and it was in sever disrepair so I took off the top and planted stuff in it. I suspect it will fall apart by the end of the season but it looks cute now.

What are you up to? Are you making hexies? Are you growing stuff?What would you like to see in the elegant wardrobe?

5 spring project ideas to try

projects - apron, sachets, cleaning cloths herb marker rocks

projects - apron, sachets, cleaning cloths herb marker rocks

Besides being customarily fired up by spring I’m getting ready to move again this summer. It’s a tiny move – upstairs in the same building but still – all the packing of all the things… Again. On the up side it’s going to be the sunniest and biggest place I’ve ever lived in and I’m pretty excited about that. My plants are too. And I get to keep the tiny garden.

Last year was my rookie garden year. I got a late start (after moving in mid June) and weeks in a hurricane dropped a huge tree on it. Many lessons were learned though and I’m excited about getting the full season this year. I find growing anything super exciting. Both of these little projects are in my plans:

1. Herb markersa super sweet and simple idea from the always inspring august wren.

2. Make a harvest/ foraging apronfind a diy here and another here. I have to make it. It’s illegal to have a garden in Connecticut without one.

And of course new, upstairs me will be extremely tidy and perfectly organized at all times. I’ve got a couple projects planned in the cleaning and organizing department that involve using stuff I already have:

3. Cleaning cloths – I’m using a towel I’ve been hauling around for decades and an old sweatshirt combined with cotton and linen scraps. Find a sewing tutorial here.

4. I love this scrap rug idea but I’m not feeling rug size ambition about it. I feel more trivet size ambition about it. It would also make an awesome bag. Again though I think I’ll test drive it at a trivet or place mat size. Find the diy here.

5. You know I love a good smell. These sachets are simple and easy and I love the aesthetic choices made here. The free chicken sewing pattern would also make a great sachet. I’m going to grow some lemon verbena and dry it for filling them. Lemon verbena sachets will be great in upstairs me’s perfectly organized closet.

PS – bonus idea :
I don’t know why this reusable coffee filter idea has never occurred to me before, especially in coffee filter emergencies. So easy.

What spring ideas and projects are you fired up about? Have you got a favorite spring soup?

Let us know  in the comments please.

 

           

5 things bringing me joy this week

March sure does have a sensation. And it’s not even technically here yet. But the days are already gloriously longer and blustery.  In addition to spring seeming like a real possibility here are a few more things that are bringing me joy right now:

1. Recreational ironing.  Which led to recreational sorting. Which led to the next item on the list.

2. Making to-go sewing projects. Way ahead of time. So far I have color coordinated hexies, tiny doll clothes, and lots of mending (one of my favorite road projects).  Pro tip: medium gray thread is super handy for travel sewing. Color-wise it works with most things and it’s way easier just to bring one color.

The most urgent mending project is the eternal shorts. They started as pants and have been on the job for 20 plus years.

Making a bunch of projects completely organized ahead of time makes me feel like an overachiever. I can just grab whichever one I like to take to the park or the beach or for the train. And I’m not done yet, I’d love to have a whole summer of projects, lined up and ready to go.

If you need project bags find a sweet bag tutorial here and a needle book is super handy too – find the pattern here (and the little flower pin cushion on the needle book above here – you can make it in about 3 minutes.).

little bird sewing pattern

 

3. Birds in the world – A customer sent me some amazing images this week of the library she created for the birds she made with the little bird sewing pattern.

Everything about it is detailed and delightful. So full of joy.

From the maker Jennifer : “I have become an expert maker of tiny books! Many are the same books that I have in my own bookcase, including a full set of Nancy Drew mysteries that match the ones I received for Christmas when I was eight years old. Now, I’ve been making tiny plants out of things in my recycling bin, so they may have a garden soon.”

 4. Plants and pottery. Two things I can’t get enough of. And they work well together. I’m propagating new plants from cuttings and making pots for them.

5. Working on the tiny rag doll world.  I decided to downsize her hearth. The original one was huge and ended up being overwhelming for the house – functionally, spiritually and aesthetically.  The new mini one feels right and  It’s easy to make (cardboard, egg cartons spackle and paint),  there’s a giant tutorial here.

What’s bringing  you joy right now?  What are you sewing for spring? Do you secretly love to iron?

the big 2020 review and plans for the new year

art and drawing supplies on a pink desk

let’s start with the first project of the new year:

Years ago I got a very old, wobbly, pink console table at a flea market in Brooklyn. Turning it into a place to make my little daily paintings was the first project of 2021. My current living situation (Guilford, Connecticut since June) is serviceable but I have not really made friends with it. The pink desk is the first thing that has made me feel at home, less disoriented in disorienting times.
It needed a thorough cleaning to brighten the odd pink paint and tightening the leg screws completely eliminated the wobble.

art and drawing supplies on a pink desk

Ritual and habit anchor me. And the pink desk adds to the painting ritual. They happen mostly in the evening, the last thing I do each day. Pretty much. I haven’t missed a day in two plus years. I love that it’s waiting for me. It removes an obstacle to beginning. Removing obstacles is super helpful when committing to practice, to building a habit.

art and drawing supplies on a pink desk

more on new year plans in a minute, first let’s look back

Amidst the swirling debacle that was 2020, two lifelong dreams were fulfilled.

You know I love a list. Partly because I like to look back and see what stuck and what didn’t. What plans turned into reality and what stayed in the someday folder. I made an intentionally audacious (audacious for me anyway) list in 2015.  Looking back at it now I’m surprised how much of it came true. It also pointed me back at some things I’d still like to accomplish and some I’m probably letting go of. Like surfing. Mostly cause I’m scared of sharks.

Two big items on the list happened this past summer:

I planted a garden and took a pottery class. The hurricane at the beginning of August dropped a huge tree on the little garden and pretty much wiped it out but still… some stuff survived (mostly herbs and radishes) and I got to play in dirt and ate stuff I grew myself. I also learned a lot about bunnies, bugs and deer…

3 ceramic handmade plates

The pottery class was at the Guilford Art Center over the summer. It took most of the ten week class for me to figure out what I want to make and learn even the basic rules of clay. I am swirling with ideas and all the energy of being a beginner.

hand holding a tiny ceramic mushroom

And I made a painting. I’ve been intending to bust out the mini scale of my painting work and experiment for a long time.  At the end of the year I made it a priority. It was an experience. I learned a lot, including that paint is expensive. It’s something I’ll continue to experiment with but at a less ambitious size unless I win the lottery.

blog and shop stuff

A few highlights : The Elegant (and sometimes nude) Rag doll pattern was released as well as 9 new free tutorials:

picnic bugs
wire doll house bed
overalls for the tiny rag doll and mr. socks
miniature paper hens
scrap flower garlands
chicken ornaments
owl ornaments
pin girls
lucky fish

mouse doll house tea party

My favorite project of the year was the mouse house. Made for joy. 100% Joy. And that’s my plan for 2021. Look for Joy. Indulge in and commit hard to things that bring Joy and let go of things that don’t.

Two of the big lessons from 2020 for me were:

1. Take nothing for granted.
2. I’m capable of more than I think.

Weeding out the things that don’t really bring Joy is harder than it sounds. But I can make it the first question. Put it at the top of the list when deciding what to spend time on, let it steer me. I think the daily painting practice helps with that. Showing up and listening to myself.

If you’re feeling up for a daily practice the 100 Day Project is a good opportunity to test drive one. The next round starts January 31st. Think of it as an opportunity to listen to yourself.

I’m still feeling around for my goals for this year. There are a few things I know for sure in the short term – in the next few weeks you will see a new sewing pattern (the crow), prints and notecards made from daily paintings and plans for the third annual international scrap festival.

Lots of other ideas are still swirling and percolating and I’m giving them room to do that. Building more time in my days to feel around for Joy.

what’s on my worktable : mending, rag dolls and other loose ends

mending a linen smock

mending a linen smock

Mending never ends. The contemporary holly hobby look requires constant maintenance and if I let it get ahead of me I have nothing to wear. I currently have nothing to wear except yoga pants so I’ve officially declared November wardrobe maintenance month. Plus I like to do it, I love the meandering stitches, patches on patches and unexpected color combinations. It chills me out and invites the universe in. Once I sink in I can spend lost hours stitching, percolating ideas and talking to the plants.

mending a linen smock

(Find the free pattern for the awesome pin cushion here)

Hexies sneak into everything, I love the way the look, just popping up once in a while in non-hexie situations and they are also super handy for tight spots with angles, like near a zipper or seam corner and little pull holes near pockets or straps.

I’m working on patterns too – the crow is coming, seriously it is, there was a technical debacle but I’m still shooting for this year. Also patterns for the soldier doll, more clothes for the elegant rag doll  and a new botanical are in the works.

textile owls and birds in progress

And finishing other almost done stuff feels like a good way to end this weird year. For me that starts with making piles and gathering the supplies I need to finish. Also known as tricking myself into starting. The tiny bit of progress gets my wheels turning.

rag doll parts on my worktable

There was a big box of elegant rag doll parts and semi-done samples made for shooting the pattern. Naked and not naked ladies are emerging. I’ll start putting them (and anything else that makes it across the finish line) in the shop soon.

elegant and nude rag dolls

 What are you stitching this November? Are you mending? Making holiday stuff? I’ve got some gift an ornament stuff going too and  I’ll show you next week.  And check out this raccoon!  It’s genius! Made by @erinpcf from the very nice mice pattern with very clever modifications. I love him.

tiny felt raccoon made form the very nice mice pattern

shop news:

tiny rag doll sewing kit

Tiny rag doll and mr. socks kits are back in stock. And the stitch paintings are available again too including two new designs!

embroidery - blue rooster stitch painting

embroidery - bird stitch painting

lucky fish : slow stitch project

slow stitch scrap fish diy

slow stitch scrap fish diy

Who doesn’t need some luck? Plus these very simple fish are pulling me out of slushy, stubborn stuckness.

One thing leads to another, if you let it, but first you need to start. Where I really started was ironing, ironing scraps. It went on my to do list because it was an easy win (I felt like doing it). And I had saved a couple bundles of scraps, each sent by a friend, to sort and iron pre-move.

slow stitch fabric fish diy

As I ironed and sorted by color the wheels started to turn and I felt a strong and persistent spiritual directive to slow stitch some fish.

Maybe you feel like stitching some fish too. Let it be a meandering process, try stuff. Let one thing lead to another.

** DOWNLOAD THE FISH TEMPLATE **

You will also need:

  • fabric scraps – light cotton or linen
  • little scraps, buttons lace for embellishing
  • stuffing
  • a basic sewing kit
  • pencil

cutting out fabric fish shape

1. Pin the pattern to 2 layers of light cotton fabric – right sides of the fabric together – and cut out. Be sure to clip out the little triangle notches.

2. Mark the seam line lightly in pencil.

3. Stitch the seam by hand or machine, leaving open between the notches. Find hand sewing tips here. 

4.  Clip notches around the curves and clip off the points at the nose and tail. Be careful not to clip the seam.

5. Use a chopstick to turn the fish right side out.

6.  Pro tip: use a plastic mechanical pencil to push out the corners – retract the lead first.

7. Stuff your fish.

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so long new york city

ann wood's brooklyn apartment

ann wood's brooklyn apartment

After 24 years I’ve said goodbye to New York City and my creaky old place. And because of the current situation I didn’t even see the new place until I arrived with movers and all my worldly possessions. It was an extra big adventure.

guilford town green

The last few weeks have been consumed with all the moving chores and writing giant checks. So not fun. Yesterday I took a break and made my Inaugural Guilford Connecticut pot of soup (spring vegetable) and took a walk around my new neighborhood, it has awesome old trees. I especially love the giant droopy old pines – they have been appearing in my paintings for  the last year or so. Prophetic maybe.

guilford ct

I’d only ever been here once for about 15 minutes. Apparently it made an impression. I did have a truly excellent artisanal donut that day so there’s that. Ever since the move my thinker has been being a stinker. Can’t focus and I spin my wheels a lot. And it is also the longest I have gone without making something or even stitching in 10 plus years. Over the holiday weekend I sat by a friend’s pool and mended and made hexies.

mending jeans and sewing hexies

I think it helped, I guess hexies really are necessary to my mental health #hexiesforsanity. Also as I sift through the chaos here and get unpacked more of the fog lifts. I hope to be smart again by August.

garden

And I’ve got a tiny garden. A life long dream realized. So simple and happy. It’s kind of a haphazard mess but I love it. I’ll share more as it develops but the big news today is my beets have sprouted. The universe truly is magic.

the new plan for scraps : filed by color

sorting quilting scraps by color

sorting quilting scraps by color

The organizing was a huge idea generator. It shifted something – seeing everything grouped that way, it was somehow thrilling and I got tons of new ideas. There was also a big editing process, I just kept the stuff I loved.

It took forever and was hugely fun and satisfying to do. I haven’t figured out how to store them yet plus I love looking at them so for now they’ll stay where they are, just hanging out on a table.

sorting quilting scraps by color

The idea was to organize some little groups of scraps for my hexie quilt project. It snowballed into sorting through every single little cotton quilting weight scrap I have and organizing them by color. How do you sort your fabric scraps? Historically my scraps have been sorted mostly by project – owl scraps, doll scraps etc. but the hexie project uses all the scraps plus I’m experimenting with color transitions.

sorting quilting scraps by color

I found little scrap treasures I’d forgotten, and the original miss thistle turned up too – she’s been missing for years (her dress is still missing).

original tiny rag doll

hexie quilt made from scraps

It’s perfect for the hexie quilt – I’m working from the pale neutral pile now. And it does help immensely to have things pre-sorted by color. All the sorting and organizing led to more sorting and organizing, you know how that goes, and I think my plan for the remainder of this odd spring will be to organize and edit all my possessions.

How do you store your scraps? Have you tried sorting by color? Share in the comments if you like and check out out lots of awesome #hexiesforsanity projects here.

how to make salt clay

making dolls and mini dishes from salt clay

salt clay diy

It’s also called Victorian Salt Clay, I even love the sound of it. The question was “ What if you want to make tiny dishes but don’t have paper clay?” I wondered if a homemade, air-dry clay could work and the answer is yes. It was a fun experiment plus I love the way it smells – I was immediately 11 again.

Salt is the main ingredient. It produces a clay that is a little more textured than paper clay. It takes a while to dry – a day or two. You shouldn’t bake it but you can put it someplace warm to speed up the process. My oven has a pilot so it’s always a little warm and I put my pieces in it overnight. The small things were dry but the larger pieces needed another day. It’s very hard when dry and can be sanded and painted – I have tips for that below. First let’s make the clay.

You will need:

1 cup of salt
⅓ cup water
½ cup cornstarch
¼ cup cold water

!. Mix 1 cup of table salt with ⅓ cup of water. Heat in a small pan over medium heat, stirring constantly for 4 minutes. Do not let it boil. Remove from heat.

2. Quickly stir the ½ cup cornstarch into ¼ cup cold water. It’s very important that you sprinkle the cornstarch a little at a time stirring constantly or it won’t mix properly.

3. Put the salt mixture back on low heat and add the cornstarch mixture stirring constantly. The mixture will begin to thicken. Keep stirring until it becomes dough like – this happens pretty quickly.

4. Scoop it out onto a plate and let it cool. When it’s cool enough to handle, knead it into a smooth ball. It’s ready to use – you can roll it like cookie dough or sculpt it. Left over clay can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container. I did find it a little crumbly when I took it out of the fridge the next day but after I kneaded it again it was sculpt-able.

making dolls and mini dishes from salt clay

salt clay miniature teacup

I tried making some plates and cups from the tiny dish tutorial and got good results. When I formed it over things it was looser than the paper clay but it still worked. And in the plate tutorial I recommend letting it dry about halfway before cutting the shapes. With the salt clay you can’t do that – it becomes too brittle. It’s a pretty stiff clay though so easy to cut.

dollhouse dish tutorial

 

Over-all I was pleased with the results – not as fine as the paper clay but still charming and I definitely value heart over perfection in tiny dish making.

Plus it’s fun to make the clay!

 

 

I sanded the pieces and painted with watercolor, acrylic craft paint and finished some with nail-polish. Use quick multiple coats of paint. I found if I overworked the paint it would lift.

miniature cast iron pan

The handle on the tiny cast iron frying pan broke when I sanded it but I glued it back on and painted it with black nail polish. The teacup got painted with black nail polish too. The soup kettle was made by forming the clay over a handle – similar to the process for creating the teacup in the dish tutorial.

salt clay diy - pots and pans

salt clay diy

mini doll parts made form salt clay

Parts for a little doll experiment showed up too. Such a funny little lady, I love her. I’ll post a photo when she’s finished.

magic stones made form victorian salt clay

And magic stones.

I made them, that’s how I know for sure they’re magic. They are painted with watercolor and acrylic and finished with a layer of nail polish. The clay and stones would be a fun project to do with little folks and a magic rock in your pocket can’t hurt.

I hope you make victorian salt clay!

the somewhat weekly newsletter

Do you get my free weekly-ish newsletter? There are tips and tricks, ideas, stuff to try, all the latest news and blogposts and extra stuff, just for subscribers, delivered mostly on Friday. Pretty much.


paintings to stitch, the hexie quilt and nude rag doll news

painting sampler - teacup

stitch painting embroidery

Every day starts with stitching owls and castles and swans etc. and making scrap hexies. I chose a few images from the daily paintings to print on linen and stitch and I love stitching them, I find it hypnotic. It’s a free style situation – choosing lines or details to highlight and embellish. I’ve only been using 3 stitches – back stitch, satin and french knots.

a cozy sewing situation

You can find the stitch paintings in the shop.

When I finish these I’ll keep them in the hoops and hang them in a little group –  I’ll show you how to do that soon. I’m using DMC floss – the six strand stuff – separating one, two or three strands. 

painting sampler - teacup

embroider a blue bug

I love this blue bug gentleman, where is he going? Who are those flowers for? And I love the little french knot flowers for his bouquet.  I used two strands of thread for these. 

french knots:

Bring the needle through the fabric where you would like the knot.  Hold the thread tight about and inch from the fabric with your other hand. Place your needle in front of the tight floss – be sure it’s in front – not behind. 

Wind the floss around the needle twice (or once for a tiny knot),  Don’t twirl the needle to wind the floss – wind it around the needle with your non-needle hand,

Keep the tension of the floss and put the needle back in right next to (not in the same hole – but very close to it) where you began. Keep the thread tight with your non-needle hand and pull the coil downward towards your fabric. Pull the needle through to finish the knot.

hexie update:

I add a few every day- I’m moving from the multicolor scrap area into a pale section and starting a  dark blue group too, Lots of people are making hexies! Check out #hexiesforsanity to see. And I found a printable sheet of templates here.

 making a hexie quilt from scraps

embroidering a doll face

Scandalous doll pattern update: Just about there and it is awesome. The hard part for me was the head – I changed my mind over and over but finally settled on a solution I’m super happy with.  Stay tuned.  And get some fabric – muslin or any light cotton.

What are you working on?  Come across any cool projects, recipes, awesome books  or ideas you’d like to share? Please leave them in the comments.