may diy + business book club + giveaway


My dad snuck me into a bar for the first time when I was 16. I stood in line wiping my sweaty palms on my dress and hoping the doorman wouldn’t laugh and turn me away. By the time I was face to face with doorman I felt like I was going to pass out from anxiety but I tried to look aloof and nonchalant as my dad had coached me to do. I must have done okay because not only did the doorman not ask for my ID, he didn’t ask me anything…not my birthday or what year I was born or how old I was or what sign I was (all information I’d memorized).

“Go on,” he said, barely even looking at me.

When I stepped inside the bar, all my angst seemed worth it. It was a rockabilly roadhouse dive bar with dim lights and a pool table in the back corner. The smell of thousands of spilled beers and mens cologne swirled around me. I’d never been anywhere like this before. The women all wore dresses or skirts or jeans so tight you could see the lines of their underwear. The men had greased-back hair and stiff Levi’s with big cuffs at the bottom. The band was in the middle of a Johnny Cash cover and I could feel every hit on the drums shiver across the worn wood floor. This was why my dad snuck me in… not to drink but to listen to a band he loved and share it with me. Seeing live music like this was exhilarating.

My nervousness dissipated and I walked up to the bar and ordered a coke.

“That there is some skirt. How you doing?” the man sitting on the bar stool next to me said.

“Thanks,” I said. The man jumped right into his life story. How he’d just gotten out of jail for beating someone up. How he’d grown up on a farm. How he always loved his family’s chickens because they “didn’t seem to have a care in the world.” He told me how since he’d run away from home when he was 15 he’d never had a fried egg like the ones he’d eaten back on the farm. “There’s nothing like a fresh egg, the yolks are so tasty and sooo yellow.” I could have listened to him talk for hours but my dad walked up and took me to a table he’d found in the back. I listened to the band play old twangy country songs and rip through a couple rock classics. And then, it was time to leave.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the stories the man at the bar had told me. I’d never met anyone who’d grown up on a farm and I’d never eaten an egg that didn’t come from the grocery store. I wanted more tales of jail and fresh eggs and other things too, things that I didn’t even know existed.

That was the night I fell in love, not with that man or even with dive bars. I fell in love with stories. I did develop a deep crush on dive bars because they were the places filled with people who told the best tales.

In the many years since that night I’ve spent more evenings than I count sitting on a bar stool and listening to strangers tell tales of heartache and triumph and loneliness and loss and happiness. I’ve heard tales of war torn countries, the complicated joy of raising a child, disfiguring accidents, career changes, artistic struggles, saving lives and…so…much…more. I’m always in search of a good story. They don’t always come from dive bars. Sometimes they’re told by the fire on a camping trip or on a long walk or in the car on a road trip. When I need my story fix I know I can always download a Moth podcast. The Moth podcast features live recordings of stories from all walks of life, told without notes to standing room only audiences in bars, theaters, community centers and pretty much any place there’s space for people to gather to story-tell and listen.

In 2013 the Moth released their first book, a collection of some of the most poignant, funny, mind-blowing stories they’ve recorded over the years. I’m so excited to share this book with you in this month’s Dear Handmade Life DIY and business book club. It’s not DIY or business but I’m pretty sure any creative will love these tales. Along with the moth book we’re also featuring Hot Sauce by Jennifer Trainer Thompson, Freehand by Helen Birch and Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson. We love all these books and can’t wait for you to check them out too! We’re even giving two of them away!

-nicole s.

*See below for giveaway details


dear-handmade-life-diy-business-craft-book-club-m-41. The Moth by Catherine Burns

2. Hot Sauce by Jennifer Trainer Thompson

3. Weekend Handmade by Kelly Wilkinson

4. Freehand by Helen Birch

Want a chance to win two of these books – Weekend Handmade and Hot Sauce? All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling us the last time you heard a good story. You don’t have to recount the whole tale – feel free to just tell us where you were or give more details if you’d like.

Leave your comment on this post by May 19th at midnight. Make sure to include your email address so we can get your address and ship you some lovely things to read.

We’ll email the winner on May 21st as well as announce it here.

This contest is now closed! Congrats to the winner.


  1. I heard a story a couple of days ago. I was at my pool with a couple of my friends and one of them told me how he saved one of his neighbors from a fire. It was late at night and he heard a fire alarm going off and he went to tell the building manager and they were able to locate the unit it was coming from and the tenant was passed out drunk and had left something on the stove and something had caught on fire. (I hope I win! I love books!)

  2. This afternoon – a friend telling me of the foibles of brewing 5 gallons of beer in a tiny apartment. This is why I recommend small 1 or 2 gallon batches when brewing in small kitchens.

  3. The last time I heard a good story was when I was on the train traveling back to LA from Craftcation. This elderly lady talked about how she grew up in the south before/during the civil rights movement and eventually moved to California to pursue her career as an artist. It was a bittersweet moment for me – I enjoyed her stories, but my heart ached for her since it appeared that she was homeless.

    1. mary! i love that your story takes place on the way back from craftcation! how amazing that you got to meet a woman with so much history who was generous with stories! my heart goes out to her too 🙂

  4. The last time I heard a good story was a recent lunch date with a friend. We’ve known eachother about a year, and I’m fascinated each time I learn something new about her!

  5. What a lovely post! I can’t wait to check out the new Moth book. I listen to the show in my studio and often end up laughing out loud or crying – which makes me seem a bit weird to the others in my co-working space 🙂 The last time I heard/read a good story was over the weekend on Facebook. My Minister posts hilarious stories about her life – this one was about getting a box spring home from Ikea on the roof of her car. Everything she does is a comedy of errors 🙂

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