March: Book Round-Up

Stephanie Hopkins

Well, in my Books Aplenty: March Reading Forecast post, I discussed ten books I selected to read in March. I was I am hoping to read ten books if other projects didn’t get in the way. Umm…other projects got in the way. In the back of my mind, I knew this would happen. Around March is when I tend to feverishly get the crafting bug! There is so much to be inspired by the spring season. Yup, I got my art on. However, I did read six books and that is pretty darn good considering how much time I spent on art.  

Despite not reading all the books I had projected, I’m quite pleased that I’m still reading an average of one to two books per week. That is the point. To read and keep reading. Also, it really helped me be less indecisive in which book to chose next. There really is something to say about being organized and making a list. -Stephanie Hopkins

Number of pages read in March: 1,998

Lots of book reviews coming up soon! How many books did you read for March? Do share!

Here are the titles I’ve read for March and the review post dates:

A New York Secret (Daughters of New York Book 1) by Ella Carey – -My book review HERE

The Turncoat’s Widow by Mally Becker – Book review on April 1st

Finding Napoleon by Margaret Rodenbery -Book review on April 5th

The Family Plot by Megan Collins – Book review on August 12th

The Silent Girl by Kelly Heard- Book review on April 9th

The Necklace by Matt Witten – Book review on September 6th

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

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Image of the Month: Spring

Photo by Stephanie Hopkins

Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again. – Gustav Mahler

I love the colors and new blooms that spring brings and how they present new beginnings. I’m blessed to live in a beautiful neighborhood that has walking trails. There are so many beautiful sceneries and it’s wonderful to see so many people enjoy the neighborhood as well. You often see people walking their dogs, kids riding their bikes, fishing at the pond, feeding the ducks and families walking together. Looking forward to the weather warming up even more to get outdoors more often. -Stephanie Hopkins

February’s Image of the Month: Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Proserpine

Be sure to take a look at January’s Image of the Month: By the Water’s Edge. I include half of a poem I have written.

Check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Art in Motion: Home Life

Original Art by Stephanie Hopkins

“Go find your joy. Whatever that is, go find your joy. Are you going to have a good day or are you going to have a great day? Because it’s completely up to you.” – Sandra Bullock

Be sure to check out my art journey on Instagram and at my Mixed Media Art gallery here at Layered Pages! My wish is for you to be inspired and encouraged.

Cover Crush: A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Paperback, 432 pages

Published March 16th 2021 by Bethany House Publishers

About the cover: I love everything about this cover. Okay, maybe expect for you can’t see the woman’s face. Anyhow, this cover alone makes me want to read this book. The background, the fan, and the dress…swoon.     

About the book: I wanted to read this book before I even read the book description! That said, the premise sounds wonderful! Check it out. -Stephanie Hopkins

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

Art in Motion: It’s Up to You to Make Sense of It

Abstract Painting by Stephanie Hopkins

Don’t be afraid of colors! Be bold and experiment! You’ve got to mix it up.

My tip for mixed media abstract: lots of layers. Blend, blend, and blend some more. Understand cool colors, warm colors and how they work together. If you’re not feeling it, throw more paint at it and mark it up! Remember, ignore the naysayers. Create what you love. -Stephanie Hopkins

New Book Release: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

Congrats to Camilla Sten book publication of, “The Lost Village!”

Published March 23rd 2021 by Minotaur Books

About the book:

Documentary filmmaker Alice Lindstedt has been obsessed with the vanishing residents of the old mining town, dubbed “The Lost Village,” since she was a little girl. In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in this mysterious tragedy, and ever since, the unanswered questions surrounding the only two people who were left—a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn—have plagued her. She’s gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened.

But there will be no turning back.

Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As doubt breeds fear and their very minds begin to crack, one thing becomes startlingly clear to Alice:

They are not alone.

They’re looking for the truth…
But what if it finds them first?

“First, I must mention that I chose this story for two reasons. The story takes place in Sweden. Perfect setting for a story such as this.” You can read more of my review at this post link. -Stephanie Hopkins

Art in Motion: Mixed Media Collage

Mixed Media Collage by Stephanie Hopkins

“Home is where our story begins…” -Unknown

Fun craft project for all ages!

Mixed media collage is a form of visual arts, in which you take more than one element and create an image or background. Paper is one of the more popular forms of making collage. Such as using magazine clippings, scrapbook paper, photos, wrapping paper and so on…

It becomes mixed media when you add elements such as paint, ink, markers, ribbons, metal, cardboard, wood, and stamps. The ideas are endless, really. You don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money. You can use items from around your home. I’ve even seen people use sticks and leaves they find out doors. I have to admit, I’ve done that as well. In short, keep your cost down to little or no cost at all. That is the beauty of being creative.

Mixed Media Collage by Stephanie Hopkins

These collages were fun and easy to make. A perfect project for beginners or even advance crafters’. I love the quirky mismatched window panes on the house above. I tend to do that with projects like these. For my base I used cardboard from a cereal box. Don’t throw away those boxes! You can use them for all sorts of crafts. Once I cut it to the size I wanted, I inked the sides. Then grabbed a pile of scrap paper I have on hand and inked them up really good and glued them down the way I wanted. Tip: Arrange the paper on the base to see how it looks before gluing them down.  Once the paper is glued down, add ribbon and use a marker(s) to make the door and windows. I also used the markers to highlight the sides of the roof and house. That part is optional but it really helps the image to stand out.

Tip: If you don’t have crafting ink, you can use coffee to dye your papers or even watercolor paint.

These collage can be framed, or used in a journal, or a card to send to a friend or love one, or propped up against something-like a bookshelf. Have fun and enjoy the process!

You can find more of my paper-crafting and art at my Instagram!

Stephanie Hopkins

Supplies:

Cardboard from Cereal Box/Scrap Paper/Ink and Ribbon/Glue and Markers

I did use some of my painted papers for this project.

Weird Wednesday: An Exploration of Our Quirky World

Strange Traditions and Practices of the Victorians

We are delighted to welcome you to “Weird Wednesday,” a joint series, partnered with our friends at before the second sleep, that explores the quirky side of our universe.

We live in an extraordinary quirky world that often times we forget to pause in our busy lives to notice. During these times many cannot venture outside-another great reason to pick up a book-so we are bringing our explorations to you. Today, I’m exploring a bit about the strange traditions, and practices of the Victorians.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

During the Victorian era, how a person died was important to them. Especially one’s last words on this earth. Those words were thought to be believed because they were about to meet their maker. A “truth-detector” of the heart-if you will. This was a lesson for the living and for the love one’s gathered around the death bed. Afterall, why would the dying bear false witness? Those last moments were critical for the persons spiritual state. Still applies today, really.

It was important for the dying to be surrounded by their love ones in the last moments of their life. Imagine a soldier dying on the battle fields without that opportunity. How alone and scared they must have felt.  Many of the soldiers during the American Civil War were young boys crying out to their mothers.

In general, Victorians had a high mortality rate. Not only due to war but the spread of disease, living in poor conditions and lack of proper hygiene and sanitation, one might say. Also, arsenic and white lead were used in many Victorian papers as dyes which lead to widespread health issues for the workers in the industry and possibly for people in the homes.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

One of the remaining artifacts from Victorians is photographs of their dead. It may sound morbid to us in today’s society but it brought their love ones’ comfort and it gave them a sense of closeness to their deceased love ones. During the first half of the 19th century, photography was a new medium, and it was an exciting way to capture life’s moments. Alas, many did not have immediate access to photography or the money, so they had to make it count. Usually during that time, only people with means could afford such luxury. I can’t imagine the task of staging a deceased person’s body for such an event of taking a photo. Especially because child mortality rates were so high during the Victorian age. This led to the practice of post-mortem photography and I’ve come across a lot of this subject. Though sad, and at times seen as morbid, these photos were the only way to record a love one’s existence. However, I hear it was easier because in those times, a person had to remain very still due to the slow shutter speed of the cameras.

Did you know that the Victorians also made “death mask” to remember the dead? They took death very seriously if they wanted to be surrounded by such mementos. According to the 19th-century collector Laurence Hutton, a death mask “must, of necessity, be absolutely true to nature.” The Victorians were not the first to use this practice of remembering people. Ancient civilizations made mask as well. The Egyptian masks are a prime example.

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia)

I don’t think I will go into how the Victorians made their mask, at the moment. My stomach can’t take it. Let’s take a quick look at other strange-like practices the Victorians did. You’ll notice that many of them are still done in today’s world.

One of my favorite things to do living in the South is to tour Victorian Homes, Plantations and Halls. I’ve learned about so much history and how people lived, through this experience. One of the things I’ve noticed is that you’ll see picture frames with hair. The hair is often arranged in a wreath style manner. The first time I ever saw one, I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about this practice. This was another way to commemorate the deceased. Women would also keep clippings of their friend’s hair in scrapbooks and men would wear “watch fobs” made of their wives’ hair. Victorians made all sorts of decorative pieces often from their love ones.

Other examples:

Hats made from taxidermied birds and other animals.

Obsession with stuffing animals.

Hosting mummy unwrapping parties. Okay…

Made and sent strange Christmas cards. (Check out Pinterest for card images)

Body Snatching-In the name of science? This practice became so wide spread that relatives would watch over the graves of the recently deceased.

And so on…

Thank you for exploring this interesting time in history with me!

Stephanie Hopkins

Other Weird Wednesday Posts:  

Weird Wednesday: An Exploration of Our Quirky World

Weird Wednesday: Butterflies

Weird Wednesday: Facts of Daily Life in the 19th-Century England.

And check out Lisl’s  WW at before the Second Sleep!

Sources:

This republic of Suffering (Death and the American Civil War) by Drew Gilpin Faust

Category:Post-mortem photography

and other independent research…