Friday, May 28, 2010

Made by Hand :: Mark Frauenfelder- a review and give-away

Made by Hand: Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World A while back, I was contacted by Penguin to see if I was interested in receiving an advanced copy of a soon to be released book. I've been asked to review quite a few books this year, which is very exciting but I'm extremely selective. The title: Made by Hand- Searching for Meaning in a Throwaway World hooked me in an instant. The author, Mark Frauenfelder, is none other than the founder of the mega blog: Boing Boing and Editor in Chief of Make. I figured he must have an interesting perspective on the DIY culture and handmade movement... and wasn't disappointed. I assumed that the book would be a how to of sorts by a leading maker/ creative. The reality is that Mark had little or no experience before writing about the various projects he tackles: from urban chicken farming, beekeeping, and growing food to making cigar box guitars and hacking his espresso maker (to name a few). He takes the reader along on his journey as he embraces a slower, more hands on approach to life... and shares his foibles and self doubts on the way. Mark's successes had me cheering him on as if he were my favorite next door neighbor. I don't know if it was his simple egoless honesty or the fluidity of his writing, but I felt as if I was hanging out on his back porch listening to him tell stories as he whittled a wooden spoon (another handmade project featured). One of the most interesting aspects of Made By Hand is the extensive research covering each topic, along with the fascinating "alpha makers" that are profiled, to give you real insight into each subject. Because of my own lifestyle and the DIY family I was born into,  I could relate to so much within the pages, but I think anyone would find this a can't put down kind of book. Rich, thought provoking and utterly readable!
Mark was kind enough to take some time to talk to me (via phone), and here's a little summary of some of the highlights of our conversation:
-The DIY movement was gaining in popularity well before the economic downturn, maybe as a reaction to materialism and consumerism. Do you think that the drive to make things is influenced more by necessity now?  
Yes, but not what usually comes to mind when we think of necessities. Doing/making things yourself is still often more expensive, but it's just so much more satisfying. The amount of gratification, plus hours spent pursuing a new passion make for a new kind of equation. In a time when costly leisure pursuits(travel, etc.) are falling by the wayside, spending free time creating, building, fixing things is the least expensive hobby you can have.

- Resourcefulness and invention were part and parcel of other eras. How does and/or will technology interact with the new culture of invention?  
It's tremendously beneficial as a source of info and even better for connecting to other people with similar interests and ideas. Within 15 seconds of going on-line you can find an evolution of plans, ideas, iterations on designs to make and/or perfect anything at all. People love to show off what they can do, it's simply human nature. The internet creates the perfect platform for this.

-One of my favorite parts of the book was hearing your process, both trial and error, as you tried something new. You discussed the importance of getting over the fear of making mistakes. How has that changed the way you approach a new project?
The defining characteristics I learned from experienced DIYers were:
  • make lots of mistakes
  • laugh about them
  • learn from each attempt 
Items made by hand hold little expressions of yourself. "Once I discovered how much fun it was to become active in the process of making, maintaining, and  modifying the things I use and consume every day, the little flaws, quirks, and imperfections in my handiwork stopped becoming shameful and instead felt like badges of honor."  - page 30 from chapter 1 The Courage to Screw Things Up

Thank you Mark for a great chat and a fabulous new book that will  inspire and celebrate the creative urges in all of us!

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I'm happy to say that Penguin sent me an extra copy to give away to one of you. If you'd like a chance to own one of my new favorite books, Made By Hand, please leave a comment within this post by Monday 5 pm EST. I'll announce the winner on Tuesday morning. Good luck and happy weekend! Pin It

137 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness my husband would LOVE this book! I hope that I can win it for him.

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  2. I would love to own this book as an encouragement for my large family of tentative do-it-yourselfers. I think it would be helpful. Thanks for the review.

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  3. YES! My husband and I would both enjoy having this book.

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  4. I would love to have this book to give to my 26-year-old DIY son! Thanks for the chance.

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  5. so glad to hear that he has a book out. i was lucky enough to attend an event last year where he and his wife, carla sincalir (then editor and chief of craft magazine)both spoke. they really have had a fascinating life already. i would love to read this book and i'm sure my husband would too. thanks for sharing.

    ~sunshine and happiness

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  6. That book sounds right up my alley! If I don't happen to win, maybe I'll have to beg my local library to get it. Thanks for the giveaway.

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  7. That sounds like a fabulous book! I'll be on the look-out for it..

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  8. I've been following Mark on BoingBoing and look forward to reading this book... If I don't win it here I'll definitely buy it instead!

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  9. That sounds like a fabulous and insightful book. He sounds like a great inspiration. Thank you for the give away!

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  10. Sounds very inspiring--and filled with great summer projects!

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  11. Sounds like a fun book to read!

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  12. I'm getting in the mood of this whole build and fix your own stuff while working on our chicken coop - please add me in the running for the book.

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  13. This sounds like a great book! I would love to read it.

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  14. Sounds like a great read, I'll look for it at our library (if of course I don't win)! Thanks for another great giveaway Maya!

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  15. Ohhh wow i would love to win this !!!Thanks for the opportunity !

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  16. I want to know what the espresso machine hack was!

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  17. sounds like a fantastic read.

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  18. Thanks for the giveaway, and what an awesome book it seems to be! I'd love to be inspired to do more DIY projects!

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  19. Sounds like a fascinating read and very enjoyable. I'd love a copy. I'm trying to figure out how to do most of the renovations at my place myself.

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  20. This book looks so interesting! I'd love to have a copy. I'll have to check this out at the bookstore the next time I go.

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  21. I always try to follow a DIY mindset, but sometimes need some encouragement when I'm not being too successful. This book sounds like it would do the trick!

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  22. I enjoy your site and would love the inspiration from the book

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  23. I would love to read this book with my husband! Sounds wonderful!

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  24. what a great sounding read! thanks for the opportunity! ;)

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  25. I love both BoingBoing and Make!

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  26. The book sounds brilliant!

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  27. This is great. Thanks for the chance to win. This book sounds to inspirational and fun. Have a great weekend.

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  28. Oh my! I would LOVE a copy of that book! Hope you have a beautiful weekend!

    Ashley
    www.chasingfireflies.typepad.com
    LeesinGeorgia(AT)comcast(DOT)net

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  29. This would be the greatest father's day gift for my husband. He is all about trying DIY with varying levels of success. We've definitely had some extremely humorous mistakes made around our house!

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  30. big fan of MADE and would love a copy of this book! thanks for a chance to win.

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  31. We get MAKE at our house, too - the book sounds great!

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  32. This sounds great! I look forward to .... winning :) fingers crossed.

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  33. this book sounds great, I really do hope I'll win :)

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  34. You've definitely got me intrigued!

    Thank you so much for the opportunity to own such a wonderful book.

    Hope you have a beautiful weekend, Maya!

    xoxo,

    Bonnie

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  35. I would love a chance to win this great book. I like your review. It really got me interested.

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  36. It sounds like a great interview...I knew you would be a natural! The book looks fantastic!

    See you next week, my dear!

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  37. Sounds wonderful! I'd love to read this book. Thanks

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  38. What a fantastic sounding book. Would love to read it.

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  39. I recently started reading your blog-(this weekend I am attempting the spring rolls with the children-yikes!) and reading the self-healing book. It is so true, more and more I find great satisfaction in bringing my own ideas to fruition (ie. finding a twig branch in the park and screwing it to the wall to hang my daughter's forest stuffed animals). All that to say thank for the words, wisdom and creativity. Would love the book!

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  40. Wow, you had me at that quote from page 30... his book sounds like just the thing for me and my hubby (we're both recovering perfectionists)!

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  41. LOVE the interview with Frauenfelder! Wonderful and relatable quotations. :)

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  42. i'd love to win this book. The title got me interested, but a chapter called "the courage to screw things up" has me sold! that is my main stumbling block in all things creative and DIY.

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  43. Another chance, another try :-)

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  44. I love Mark Frauenfelder, he's got a couple other books out there that are great, even for kids. I am always looking for ways to reuse what I have, and this book would be wonderful to give me more ideas. Thanks!

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  45. This sounds totally my speed! If I don't win, I will definitely go look this one up!

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  46. I'd like to win THIS book! Fingers crossed...

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  47. This sounds like a great book! Would love to read it.

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  48. What a grand post, a stunning review, he has to really be appreciative of your words! I am sure you have helped him launch his book big time!!! Bravo to both of you.
    Sure, put my name in your hopper, as it sounds like a most interesting read! Thanks.

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  49. My husband and I make many things, but are always looking for new inspiration. Last weekend, we went out with a pile of wood and this weekend our children have a castle playground complete with hand-made wind chime instrument, slate drawing board, and flower boxes. This book sounds like the perfect read for finding more things we can make for ourselves. Thanks for a great giveaway!

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  50. Sounds great. Please enter me. My husband and I have been attempting more and more DIY projects, as of late.
    iluvchrisnlevi@aol.com

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  51. I would love to read this book. I have just started to contemplate this type of lifestyle. Thanks for the chance to own this book.

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  52. I want to win this copy and buy one for my big bro!

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  53. I am so excited about this book, and I especially love the sound of "The Courage to Screw Things Up" chapter as I find when I am thinking about making I sometimes get stopped by the fact that it might not turm out how I envision it. So instead of attmepting and failing I sometimes don't try at all. I am eager to read the book, so hopefully I'll win it!

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  54. Thank you for the in-depth review! I'm definitely going to have a look at this one. :D

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  55. Thanks for that review, Maya! And thanks for the giveaway, please count me in :).

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  56. I enjoyed every single word of this post, thank you!
    I'd love to win this book, but if I don't, I will try and buy it. A nice review :)

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  57. i would so love this. thank you!

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  58. Sounds like a great book!

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  59. thanks for the giveaway! I hope I win!

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  60. Sounds like a great book! I would say they picked the perfect person to review it. I do so love your blog!

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  61. OOH, I love the sound of this book. As a mum I feel the longing to s-l-o-w down, be creative with my kids, learn about life and rekindle the earthiness and humility of my grandparents' generation. We would love this book :)

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  62. Ohh yeah! That book sounds great (:

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  63. I'd love to check this out!

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  64. This book looks rather inspiring!

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  65. I'd love to add this resource to my crafting library. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  66. anything diy rocks! would love to read this!

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  67. This sounds like a great read. Thanks for the opportunity!

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  68. What a fabulous book! Thanks for the giveaway!

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  69. I would love to win this book! I want to give it to my daughter for her birthday.

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  70. Sometimes it's nice to hear how others manage to think outside the box, It looks like a great read!

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  71. What a great give-away! My husband and I are both artists, but our passion to create extends well beyond art. We've dabbled in cheese making, vegetable gardening, clothes sewing, pig raising, and furniture building to name a few. We're already fans of MAKE and look forward to reading this book!

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  72. Sounds like this book could certainly help me learn that the trial and error is all part of the fun...I am a little hung up on getting it right at the moment! Please count me this compition!

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  73. Sounds like fun! Will cross my fingers for good luck. Thanks!
    homemama of two (at) hotmail (dot) come

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  74. That sounds like a wonderful book that my husband and I would just love! We have made or fixed so many things and always look forward to learning new skills. Thanks for the nice giveaway, Maya.

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  75. This sounds like a wonderful book - reading about making is second only to making itself!

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  76. This sounds like a fab book and would be a perfect addition to my craft library! Thanks so much for the chance!

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  77. I love how he termed his "little flaws, quirks and imperfections" as his badges of honor. :) Mistakes are part of the DIY project. His book sounds super interesting! :)

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  78. I would love this book! I need a bit of a kick up the bum! Lots of love, Amanda xxx

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  79. I've been trying to embrace my DIY-er...this book looks motiviating!

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  80. Nice to see the world has lots of delightful contributors.

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  81. I think that would be very inspiring to read and would love to win it!

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  82. Wow! What a fantastic giveaway. I cannot wait to get my hands on this book.

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  83. I would so LOVE to give this book to my Husband to read...only after I have read it, of course. He is always getting on my case for giving handmade (by me!) gifts saying I could have bought something for WAY LESS $, ha ha, true, but not as REWARDING for me! Maybe he would appreciate the gifts I lovingly make a little more ;0)

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  84. What an awesome sounding book -- I can't wait to get my hands on one! Thanks for the chance to win!

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  85. Now I am curious! It sounds to be a fabulous book! I would love to read it.

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  86. I would love to read this book. Looks good.

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  87. lijkt me helemaal geweldig!

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  88. Thank you for posting this interview. I love the humility that Mark brings to his process. It reminds me I am not the only one trying to figure stuff out!

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  89. oh my, doesn't it just seem like the universe is always listening in when you have come to some profound realization. I, just last night, told my husband that I wanted to truly be involved in the hands on business of building our new house. Even when I don't know what I'm doing, I'm proud of the doing and I want our new house to have the marks of OUR hands. Of course, Mark said it better...."badges of honor" instead of a reason to beat yourself up as you learn as you go!
    LOVE IT!

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  90. This book sounds Awesome! I love giving old things new life.

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  91. This book sounds really good! Would love to win it...;-)) Thank you for the give-a-way!

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  92. I'd LOVE to read this! So thanks for the chance to win a copy!

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  93. This book sounds awesome! I would love it!

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  94. I'd love to have a peek at this book.

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  95. I'm still having trouble with being okay with mistakes when I do DIY projects. Not sure why; perhaps something to do with needing to justify doing it myself instead of buying it as being better in some way (and I know it's not cheaper usually) which to me always seems to mean quality -- and too often means expecting perfection.

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  96. that sounds sooo interesting! thanks for the give away! katrin

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  97. Sounds like a fantastic book. Thanks!

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  98. It sounds like a fascinating read! Thanks for sharing :-)

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  99. I'm going to read this book one way or another... although I do hope it might be my very own copy sent by you! Thanks for the chance!

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  100. Looks interesting, and he looks so happy on the cover!
    margie

    margiedicroce@rogers.com

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  101. This would be a great father's day gift for my husband!

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  102. that is my kind of book. happy spring.

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  103. Oh, goody, a give-away! Thanks! I'd love to win a copy of this fascinating book.

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  104. This book looks very very cool. I would love to win it! Thanks for the chance!

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  105. This book would be great for Father's Day. My husband and I are big DIYers. Thanks for the giveaway!

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  106. This would be great for us...we're very big on trash to treasure! Thanks!

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  107. This looks like a great addition to my summer reading pile. Living in a community where the DIY ethic has yet to take root, I need all the inspiration I can get!

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  108. Just found your website recently and am excited to follow your family. Check out our blog too!
    Also we are interested in the book. We love boing- boing!

    Thanks!
    Samantha

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  109. I had no idea he had a book coming out!

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  110. That's wonderful. A great resource. Thank you for the giveaway chance.

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  111. I appreciate the celebration of making mistakes. I always understand what I need to do to get the result I want, after several mistakes. And often discover other potential projects along the way.

    Thanks for the interview.

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  112. It sounds like a great read. My husband is great at DIY; I need some encouragement, however.

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  113. This sounds like such a great book and how we're trying to live our lives. Always good to share and learn from other people's journeys and experience. Thanks, Maya! Lucy : )

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  114. Well, you've made it sound like I would really enjoy this book.....so count me in!

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  115. wht a wonderful giveaway!!!
    It seems to be quite an interesting , useful and inspiring book.
    Thank you very much.
    Mar

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  116. this looks like such a great book! i'd love to read it. i hope it will make me less afraid of making mistakes in my projects.

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  117. Nice! I'm a big fan of Make. Thank you for the chance to win.
    Karen MB

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  118. Sounds like a wonderful read ~ diverse topics and joy in the process of discovery! Thanks for introducing us.

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  119. Thanks for introducing me to this book.

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  120. looks like a great book!

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  121. What an awesome, interesting and inspiring book! A dose of courage for the rest of us :)

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  122. Thank you for such a thoughtful review - I'm very interested in reading this!

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  123. Wow, amazing! As a web developer, I spend most of my day in front of a screen writing code... which is a creative process, but the end result is intangible. I've always got about a dozen knitting or sewing projects going, so at the end of the day, I can shift gears and create something I can touch and feel. I think I have a new role model in Mark; I had no idea such a well-known tech guy had this passion for DIY. I'd love to get my hands on this book. Thanks for letting us know about it!

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  124. We just got back from camping with our two and five year old. This looks like a great book! Hope you had a wonderful holiday. Our flowers are just beginning to bloom, I saw the first rosebushes bloomin thursday just as the dandelions are coming to seed. (danainalaska at yahoo dot com)

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  125. What a great interview! I would love to read this book! Sounds very inspiring.

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  126. Wow, What a wonderful book. It would be a perfect way to help me out of a particularly difficult hole I find myself in. Thank you for the opportunity Maya XXXX

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  127. Our entire family would all love this book! if we don't win, we will have to borrow or buy a copy!

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