KariAnne Wood is a DIY blogger at her popular blog, Thistlewood Farm, where she writes about renovating her picturesque farmhouse. People like her leave me in awe, as I try to go through life DIYing as little as possible. I’d outsource breathing if I could get away with it! So when Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary advanced copy of her book, So Close to Amazing: Stories of a DIY Life Gone Wrong . . . and Learning to Find the Beauty in Every Imperfection, I thought that I might not like it. I was sure it would be a neatly spun story of how she renovated her vintage home in the country while homeschooling her perfect children, making her own jam, and modelling swimwear for extra cash. Books like that simply make me feel miserable.
But KariAnne is relatable and real. She’s quick to point out her imperfections, including her struggle with her weight, messy minivan, and her feeling that she never quite gets things right: hence the book’s title. She tells how her DIY projects were born of necessity (she spent the furniture budget on renovation cost overruns) and not always well received.
The story of her faith walk is a good one for – like many of us – she feels resistance when God puts a call on her life. She writes about the day she felt God wanted her to “just jump” and move her family out to the country:
I can’t jump, I said silently. I have a husband and a family and friends and responsibilities and a house with a big mortgage, and I’m going to give a speech at the end-of-the-year program at school. And I finally found the perfect person to highlight my hair.
She gets the highlights thing: I told you she was relatable.
She is self-aware, realizing she fell into the trap of being a classic big city type, who thinks she can teach the people of her new small town a thing or two:
I had been thinking an almighty God had called us to this place and this town at this time in our lives for the lessons we were going to teach.
In reality, we were here for the lessons we were going to learn.
This book is relatively light in tone. She alludes to darker days, such as when her twins were born and faced a number of medical issues. She alludes to feelings of loneliness when she moved so far from home and when her military husband was sent to war when they were first married. But she does not get into the details. I would love to hear how she maintained her faith during those times but this is not that kind of book. It remained light and funny and is not unlike the Hallmark movies she seems to love so much. For the record, this is not a bad thing.
Each chapter includes details for completing cute DIY projects like a Just Jump sign and a Flip the Script Centerpiece. As a non-DIYer, I did not pay much attention to these as I have no intention of attempting them. But I’m sure they are quite good since she’s known for her excellent DIY advice.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the blooper reel behind your favourite DIY blog, you will love this book. KariAnne Wood is funny, charming, and relatable and reading this book is like having a coffee morning with a new, fun friend.