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Why? Because you can—and because it feels good!

Have you ever thought about taking up a new hobby? Or making some home improvements? Or learning a craft? Well, now is as good a time as any. Some specialized skills, such as doing electrical work, are best learned from experts. Other (less dangerous) undertakings, such as composting or crocheting, can be learned from library resources.

There are many reasons to “do it yourself.” The most effective motivator for me is the feeling of gratification I get from a job well done. It feels good to stand back and think “I’m glad I accomplished that.” I might even give myself a pat on the back! House painting is one of those jobs that gives you great return on your investment of time and effort—and yes, money. The money you save when doing a project yourself is another motivation. We recently saved approximately $600 by painting our kitchen and dining room. We had a lot of fun working together, and now we get to enjoy the improved look as we have our meals together. The new wall color is called “joyful.”

A third reason to “do it yourself” is to get a finished product that reflects your preferences. Browsing online, you might find an adorable yellow and brown toy giraffe for your grandchild but would prefer it in her favorite shade of purple. Well…make it yourself! We have many eBooks and audiobooks that will help the new crocheter or knitter get started. These books will help you learn a new skill or help hone an old one. That’s right, you can morph from non-crocheter to novice crocheter in just a granny square or two!

There are many areas of your life that are ripe for do-it-yourself projects: home improvement, entertainment, crafts, gardening, cooking, self-help, finance, and more. And there are eBooks and audiobooks available in both hoopla and eLibraryNJ for all of these. I frequently consult online resources for help throughout a project. Here are a few photos of some of my do-it-yourself projects:


Here are just a few topics and titles you can check out from Mercer County Library System. There are many, many more!


DIY Temporary Tattoos: Draw It, Print It, Ink It by Pepper Baldwin, 2016. Baldwin helps you unleash your creativity and design your own temporary tattoos at home. From vintage to abstract, she gives you tutorials on how to draw, size, print, and apply them.”

Bottle Art: How To Use Empty Wine Glass Bottles to Make Decor Craft Projects Like Colorful Vases, Drinking Glasses, Plant Holders, Bangles, Wind Chimes, Lamps or Even Hanging Tea Candle Holders by Lisa Parker, 2018. Available as a hoopla audiobook.


Make Your Own Cheese: 12 Recipes for Cheddar, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Self-Reliant Cheese, and More! by Caleb Warnock, 2019. Available as a hoopla eBook.

Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry, 2020. Available as an eLibraryNJ eBook.


How to Age in Place by Mary A. Languirand, 2019. Available as an audiobook from hoopla and eLibraryNJ. “The first authoritative and comprehensive guide to ‘aging in place’--a burgeoning movement for those who don’t want to rely on assisted living or nursing home care--which allows seniors to spend their later years living comfortably, independently, and in their own home or community.”

The Ultimate Retirement Guide for 50+: Winning Strategies to Make Your Money Last a Lifetime by Suze Orman, 2020. Available as an eBook from eLibraryNJ.


Do-It-Yourself Garden Projects and Crafts by Debbie Wolfe, 2019. Available as an eBook from hoopla.

New York & New Jersey Month-by-Month Gardening: What to Do Each Month to Have a Beautiful Garden All Year by Kate Copsey, 2016. Available as an ebook from elibraryNJ.


The Complete Guide to Plumbing by Black & Decker, 2019. Available as an eBook from hoopla. “Completely updated to current codes.”

The Home Edit: A Guide to Organizing and Realizing Your House Goals by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, 2019. Available in print and as an eBook and audiobook from eLibraryNJ. “NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER: There’s decorating, and then there’s organizing. From the Instagram-sensation home experts (with a serious fan club that includes Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mindy Kaling), here is an accessible, room-by-room guide to establishing new order in your home.”

Once you’ve selected a project, prepare yourself by getting some good background information, such as you’ll find in these books, and then gather all your materials before beginning the project. Make sure you have the space to work and sufficient time to devote to the project. If you’ll be working in phases, make plans for interim times between phases. How will you store paint and paintbrushes for day 2 of painting? Where will you store your knitting needles so that your guest doesn’t accidentally find them in a couch cushion? Ouch! How will you schedule your plumbing project so that you’re not left high and dry?

And remember…when you set out to learn a new activity, be kind to yourself. Give yourself license to make mistakes—and learn from them. If you don’t like the direction the project is taking, feel free to start over. I’ve unraveled many partially crocheted scarves—and started over with the new knowledge I gained. Sometimes we learn more from our mistakes than our victories.

So go ahead…challenge yourself! You’ll be glad you did.

-- by Mary Astarita, Hickory Corner Branch

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