Musings from the Weekend

The month is August and the heat and humidity in the South is energy zapping to say the least. I can’t wait for Fall to arrive with lovely crisp cool air and vibrant colors of the season. I tend to be more creative in my creative endeavors with cooler weather. Not to say, Sumner doesn’t inspire me. There are many wonderful elements of summer. This past weekend I enjoyed the beautiful sunny weather inside for the most part

Yesterday, I uploaded my latest YouTube video! I shared my latest vintage haul from the lovely Marie and mail from sweet Lori-Ann. Plus, a few ideas I have and what crafty projects I’m currently working on. My energy is somewhat picking up because I know Fall will be here soon and the projects, I want to begin are endless!

Yesterday was also a beautiful day for breaking dishes! What?! Yes, that’s right. I break dishes. I have quite a few mixed media mosaic projects in the works and I need enough material in front of me to begin without having to stop to look for more material at thrift stores. Have you noticed how high the prices are at thrift stores now? Yikes! I’m having to get really creative and use what I have on hand. No complaints about that though because it’s a great challenge for creativity and I love to up-cycle.

I’m also doing a little reorganization in my craft space. That has been an ongoing project. Dare I say, it never ends? I added two of my paintings- at first- I made in the background as a prop. Then I added a third painting and rearranged the jars because it wasn’t feeling right. The third painting is a tree and the jars are blocking the tree trunk. It’s actually a pretty cool painting. I painted the blue vase you see with paint, watered down glue and paint! I need to add another layer, me thinks. I love DIY projects. The vase is glass and it is from the Dollar Tree when everything in the store was still a dollar.

Reorganizing helps with finding inspiration. If I had a choice, the walls would be white. Maybe one day. I’ll show the rest of the shelving once I get it the way I want it to look. It feels great to organize and move things around for a fresh look. Sometimes that’s all you need to feel one with your space.

Be sure to check out my ebay store! I have a lot of new items listed and more to come!

I have rambled long enough! My wish is for you to be encouraged and inspired. -Stephanie

Direct Link: YouTube Channel

Direct Link: Ebay Store

Vintage Ephemera Haul for Craft Projects and Journals Update

Today, I’m sharing a few updates about my paper-crafting endeavors and about my friend Marie’s vintage shop update! Marie is having a wonderful sale over at her Instagram shop this afternoon and she is your perfect source for vintage items you would like to use in your crafts, journal, journal tags, card making and so on…Even if you are just a collector, she’s your gal to find a collection of beautiful items to acquire.

To find out more about why Marie sells vintage ephemera, check out Vintage Ephemera Haul for Craft Projects and Journals blog post!

Marie’s IG Shop Link: hope_vintage_sales

Be sure to check out my latest vintage ephemera haul video on YouTube from Marie’s Instagram shop!

If you liked this video and are looking for ideas for crafting, mixed media art and journal making, please like and subscribe to my channel. Be sure to hit the notification bell to get the latest videos!

YouTube Link: Vintage Ephemera Haul for Crafting

Christian Theology

It has been quite a while since I’ve last read books on Christian Theology and I feel even more compelled today to come back to this genre. I have several reasons in mind to study theology and one of them is the concerning stronghold that progressive Christianity is taking in America and around the world. This has been happening for a while now, but I’m seeing an alarming increase in this lifestyle. A whole generation is being preached on self, feelings and emotions rather that the law of God, repentance, turning away from sin, and the Gospels. Their lukewarm, feel good, false preaching, and worldly concert like performances are leading people away from God. Progressive Christians are conforming to the world rather than God. -Stephanie Hopkins

I’m curious about the books I have listed below and will be reading them-of course-with discernment, and have my Bible open and ready. -Stephanie Hopkins

The Mission of God’s People: A Biblical Theology of the Church’s Mission (Biblical Theology for Life) by Christopher J. H. Wright

In, The Mission of God’s People, Wright shows how God’s big-picture plan directs the purpose of God’s people, the church. Wright emphasizes what the Old Testament teaches Christians about being the people of God. He addresses questions of both ecclesiology and missiology with topics like “called to care for creation,” “called to bless the nations,” “sending and being sent,” and “rejecting false gods.” As part of the Biblical Theology for Life Series, this book provides pastors, teachers, and lay learners with first-rate biblical study while at the same time addressing the practical concerns of contemporary ministry. The Mission of God’s People promises to enliven and refocus the study, teaching, and ministry of those truly committed to joining God’s work in the world.

Far as the Curse Is Found: The Covenant Story of Redemption by Michael D. Williams

God’s covenant with his people is an unfolding historical drama with personal and earthly dimensions that are often overlooked. In this study of the meaning and scope of the covenant, Michael D. Williams highlights the goodness of the physical realm and God’s redemptive intentions for his creation.

The Attributes of God by A.W. Pink

This classic work of Arthur W. Pink invites readers to discover the truth about seventeen attributes of God, including his sovereignty, immutability, patience, love, faithfulness, and much more.

More about The Attributes of God:

Bible scholar Arthur W. Pink became a prolific and highly influential evangelical author over the course of the twentieth century, beginning with his monthly magazine Studies in Scriptures. Many of his books began as articles in this small publication, including The Attributes of God. In this work, Pink sets out to reveal the true character of God. He believes that in order to truly know God, we must first submit to God and follow in his footsteps. The people that do know their God shall be strong (Dan. 11:32).

It is the author’s hope that those who listen to these words shall be blessed and see their lives transformed by the power of God.

Writing Exercise

 “Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding.”
– Jen Williamson.

A little writing warm-up is just the ticket to get you started. When you open your journal or notebook to a blank page, oftentimes you feel as if that blank page is like not knowing a destination to choose. Quite frankly, writing takes you on unexpected destinations. One of the best ways to get started -there are many- is by practicing with questions.

Grab your paper/notebook and preferred writing tool and let’s get started. First, begin writing the words below. Be sure to allow enough space to write your sentences.

Book

City

Mountain

Restaurant

Person

Movie

Start with the first word in the column, which is book. Write the title of the book you last read and your general thoughts on the story or the information you read. Then move on to, city. What was the last city you visited other than the one you live in? What did you do? Below is the selection of questions to answer for each word in the column.

Mountain: What is the name of a mountain you visited and explored? Write your experience.

Restaurant: What is the name of the last restaurant you ate at and were you with anyone? Write about that and what you ate. Was the restaurant busy? Describe the atmosphere.

Person: Who was the person you last talked to and what was the conversation about and feeling?

Movie: What was the title of the last movie you saw? Who were the actors who starred in the show? What was the movie about? Did you like it?

You can have a lot of fun with this writing exercise and there are endless basic topics like these to get you started. Whether you are a beginner writer or a seasoned one, this exercise is great for any level of writing. Who knows, you might find a story idea for a book inspired by the warm-up.

My wish is for you to be encouraged and inspired!

Stephanie

Discovering Lost Lists

Today’s List Not Lost, Yet

Lists are fun to write. Especially, lists about what you want to write about. My lists normally contain stories I want to write, blog posts, books I want to read, books to review, daily or weekly to-dos and so on… I try my best to keep the list updated, but not always. I actually skip a day or two. Okay, I’ve been known to skip a week or even a month. Yikes! I know. Is it unreasonable for me to say that we’ve all probably done that? Afterall, writers are known for their procrastination’s. I like to journal in the morning to start my day and sometimes I compile my list there. Not always, mind you. Months, even years down the road, I will find loose sheets of paper with lists on them scattered in odd places. I love organization but it is not my strong suite in a couple areas. Did I just write that out loud? Finding lists, you write years later in odd places is actually fun. When you read them, you’re either eye rolling, laughing or thinking how far you’ve come in your writing. Same goes for reading journals you’ve kept over the years. They’re always full of surprises.

Past written lists can even spark forgotten memories and give you more material to write about. Like this blog post for example. The list I found was one I write last September on a pink notepad and it contained blog post topics I want to write about. Did I accomplish those tasks? Err… not exactly but in my defense, I was busy making books to use as journals and paper-crafting. No time like the present to tackle that forgotten list. What is on that list, you ask. Well, I wrote about regular blog posts I used to post and new ones I wanted to start. For example, cover crushes. I loved writing about book covers that catch my eye and I’ve sorely neglected that series. I’m still in the thinking stages about bring that back and if there are any changes, I want to make to it. Other items on the list mentions daily blog posts, regular monthly themes of writing and crafting. I’ve also added to that list! I want to write more about my journey of continual education and what I discover on that-at times-rocky road. I have to remind myself to pace myself. There is so much material and I want to read and study it all at once! I want to know everything about everything. An impossible undertaking, I know. I digress.

Lists are important to me. Are they important to you? Do you relate to my thoughts on the subject? Have you found forgotten lists from years past?

Stephanie Hopkins

Book Titles that Stand Out

Not only does the design of a book help catch a reader’s eye but the title does as well. I’m drawn to clever book titles and how the writer decides what to caption the story. Often times, when I’m reading a book, I look for the phrase in the story or a situation that the writer was inspired to use to create the title.

Titles matter in the scheme of things when it comes to not only selling a book, but by giving a reader’s imagination of what is inside. What and how the story is weaved and so begins the world building.

In this post, I’m sharing three book titles I came across recently that has captured my interest. -Stephanie Hopkins

The Lost Chapter by Caroline Bishop

Pub Date May 3rd 2022 

England, present day.

At eighty years old, Florence Carter is content with her life. A widow in her twilight years, she spends her days making intricate lino prints in the company of her dog and cat, and her neighbors’ daughter Alice, a shy young woman troubled by a recent trauma. But when ​Flo learns that a long-lost friend has written a novel based on their time at finishing school, she’s forced to confront a secret from her past…

France, 1957.

In post-war Lyon, Florence and Lilli meet at a strict finishing school for girls. Florence—or Flo as she’s known—is a demure young Englishwoman who is expected to enter society and make a good marriage. Lilli, meanwhile, is a brash American with an independent spirit and thirst for adventure. Despite their differences, they forge a firm friendship that promises to last a lifetime—until a terrible betrayal tears them apart.
Now, as Flo reads Lilli’s book, she struggles to separate fact from fiction. Desperate for answers, she decides to take a road trip to France to find Lilli, and she invites Alice and her mother Carla to join her, in hopes the change of scenery will lift their spirits. But when they reach Lyon, it’s Flo who needs help as the buried truth from long ago threatens to overwhelm her.

The Lost Chapter is a poignant novel about the power of friendship and a beautiful reminder that it’s never too late to start writing a different story.

Hook Them or Lose Them (An Author’s Guide to Catching Readers on Page One) by D. Leitao

Pub Date 25 Apr 2022 

Description

Yes, you can hook your readers from page one.

This book is based on a workshop I gave a while ago. Even as I was preparing the workshop, trying to distill the essence of crafting hooky stories in simple, easy-to-understand concepts, I was amazed.

Nobody had ever explained this to me.

Most of the books and courses on writing and structure don’t really touch on that. Truly. You could do all the steps in Save the Cat and totally miss how to hook readers because this information simply isn’t there.

I realized I had found something special; an easy way to help writers identify what works and doesn’t for their beginning paragraphs, and how to get the readers hooked in their stories. And that’s why I’m putting it in this book; because I think my explanation can help writers.

When I say help, I truly mean help, I don’t mean tying writers down with another concept that might stifle their creativity. This book is not about sticking your writing into a box or following rigid rules. While it provides tips and techniques to help you craft stories that readers won’t quit, the advice is simple, easy, and flexible enough not to hinder your writing style or dampen your inspiration. Still, it should quench many of your doubts on whether your writing is hooky or not, so that you can spend more time creating and less time worrying.

I’ll also provide you with advice for beginnings and examples of efficient first paragraphs so that you’ll never again freak out wondering how to start your book. Instead, you’ll feel confident that you can hook your reader from the first page.

The Shell and the Octopus – A Memoir by Rebecca Stirling

Pub Date 26 Jul 2022

Description

This is the story of Rebecca Stirling’s childhood: a young girl raised by the sea, by men, and by literature. Circumnavigating the world on a thirty-foot sailboat, the Stirling’s spend weeks at a time on the open ocean, surviving storms and visiting uncharted islands and villages. Ushered through her young life by a father who loves adventure, women, and extremes, Rebecca befriends “working girls” in the ports they visit (as they are often the only other females present in the bars that they end up in) and, on the boat, falls in love with her crewmate and learns to live like the men around her. But her driven nature and the role models in the books she reads make her determined to be a lady, continue her education, begin a career, live in a real home, and begin a family of her own. Once she finally gets away from the boat and her dad and sets to work upon making her own dream a reality, however, Rebecca begins to realize life is not what she thought it would be—and when her father dies in a tragic accident, she must return to her old life to sift through the mess and magic he has left behind.

My Journey of Continual Education

My current reads and for the next few years, my main reading focus is nonfiction and studying diverse cultures-how they evolve in-depth- government entities, world history and economics.

I’ve studied and read quite a few books on American history (particular 19th Century) but lately I’ve discovered so much I’ve sorely missed out on. That said, one’s education should be a life long journey. I’m looking forward to reading and studying these books.

The Americans, Vol 1: The Colonial Experience

(The Americans #1) by Daniel J. Boorstin

Winner of the Bancroft Prize. “A superb panorama of life in America from the first settlements on through the white-hot days of the Revolution.” – Bruce Lancaster, Saturday Review

The Americans, Vol 2: The National Experience Paperback – by Daniel J. Boorstin

This second volume in “The Americans” trilogy deals with the crucial period of American history from the Revolution to the Civil War. Here we meet the people who shaped, and were shaped by, the American experience—the versatile New Englanders, the Transients and the Boosters.  Winner of the Francis Parkman Prize.

The Americans, Vol 3: The Democratic Experience Paperback by Daniel J. Boorstin

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize. A study of the last 100 years of American history.

A History of the American People by Paul Johnson

“The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures,” begins Paul Johnson. “No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind.”

In his prize-winning classic, Johnson presents an in-depth portrait of American history from the first colonial settlements to the Clinton administration. This is the story of the men and women who shaped and led the nation and the ordinary people who collectively created its unique character. Littered with letters, diaries, and recorded conversations, it details the origins of their struggles for independence and nationhood, their heroic efforts and sacrifices to deal with the ‘organic sin’ of slavery and the preservation of the Union to its explosive economic growth and emergence as a world power. Johnson discusses contemporary topics such as the politics of racism, education, the power of the press, political correctness, the growth of litigation, and the influence of women throughout history. He sees Americans as a problem-solving people and the story of their country as “essentially one of difficulties being overcome by intelligence and skill, by faith and strength of purpose, by courage and persistence… Looking back on its past, and forward to its future, the auguries are that it will not disappoint humanity.”

Sometimes controversial and always provocative, A HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE is one author’s challenging and unique interpretation of American history. Johnson’s views of individuals, events, themes, and issues are original, critical, and in the end admiring, for he is, above all, a strong believer in the history and the destiny of the American people.

Other recent relevant posts:

Cultural Nonfiction Books

A Better Understanding of Political and Social Controversies of Our Times

I’m looking forward to sharing more books I’ve discovered and as I read them, I will be writing down my thoughts on them in future posts.

Stephanie Hopkins

Spring Crafting Abundance

This past spring was a lovely time creating junk journals. I accomplished making four one signature journals in all. I’m thrilled with how they turned out and I have filmed YouTube videos on my process and flip-throughs. There are a few others where I showed how I work through the pages when decorating.

There are a few ways I journal and my process, is based on what I’m feeling at the moment or if I wanting to do more than just writing. Today, I’m sharing just a few links to the videos of my spring journal flip-throughs and working through the pages. I hope you take the time to watch them. My wish for you is to be inspired and encouraged. Please be sure to let me know in the comment area if you have any questions regarding these journals.

Spring Journal Links:

Note: I don’t believe I did a final flip-through with the first two journals but I have several videos working through the pages. So, you get a whole view of them while watching my process.

Spring Journal Flip Through | How to Cover White Pages 

Spring Journal | Working Through the Pages

Spring Journal | How to Make a Paper Weave 

Spring Journal | Let’s Make A Paper Circle Bellyband!

Spring Journal | Working Through the Pages 

Spring Journal Flip Through Part II

Spring Journal Flip Through Part III 

Spring Journal Flip Through Part IV

Thank you for watching my videos and please subscribe to my channel and don’t forget to hit the notification bell for video updates! My videos are geared towards paper crafting and the art of journaling. More videos coming soon!

Stephanie Hopkins

Book Review: The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

Expected publication: January 11th 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

About the book: When Kayla Carter’s husband dies in an accident while building their dream house, she knows she has to stay strong for their four-year-old daughter. But the trophy home in Shadow Ridge Estates, a new development in sleepy Round Hill, North Carolina, will always hold tragic memories. But when she is confronted by an odd, older woman telling her not to move in, she almost agrees. It’s clear this woman has some kind of connection to the area…and a connection to Kayla herself. Kayla’s elderly new neighbor, Ellie Hockley, is more welcoming, but it’s clear she, too, has secrets that stretch back almost fifty years. Is Ellie on a quest to right the wrongs of the past? And does the house at the end of the street hold the key? Told in dual time periods, The Last House on the Street is a novel of shocking prejudice and violence, forbidden love, the search for justice, and the tangled vines of two families.

My thoughts: :

Current state of mind as of 6/14/2022: I published this review on December 6, 2021 and left it up for a while. Then I sent it back to my drafts. I rarely do that and I’m still undecided if I made the right decision. Maybe that is why I’m adding it to my blog roll again. First reactions are just that. First reactions, Though, having read through it again, I still stand on my beliefs about many of the things I stated.

Overtime, one looks back and reflects past opinions. Are they right? What is right or true? Or what is wrong? Or maybe there are layers of truth because we tend to see or experience differently Whatever the case, we must learn from them in order to grow. I want to go back and flesh this review on a score or two, and I feel that many will take what I wrote originally, in a negative way and run with it. Or make all sorts of false assumptions. That said, that really isn’t my problem but I question what am I really trying to convey in this review? With the current state of things, there is so much on my mind. Maybe, I should go back and re-read the story. I don’t know at this point. At the present, my Kindle has given out on me and I cannot get to my review e-books. My current feeling is to maybe to go back and review my notes. Going forward with this post. I caution the reader. Be mindful of what I just stated and what I wrote in the review.

Original review:

I love a story with dual time lines but I must say, each story must be equally compelling and the connections strong. Despite my misgivings about Ellie’s characterization, I felt her story-line, as a young lady and what she experienced with SCOPE, her relationship the young man Win and her family was considerably more engrossing than Kayla’s story. While in the modern-day story, loose ends were tied up, the story felt awkwardly told throughout. I understand why the author chose to use a dual timeline, but I couldn’t help feel the 1960’s story-line would have been enough, if fleshed out.

I do believe the story is relevant to the times and my emotions were flying high while reading this story. I detest racism in any form and while there is important historical relevance of the period, I felt the “white privilege narrative” in Ellie’s case to be an agenda pushed due to our current state and how racism is portrayed today. That seems to be the norm in our society and personally, I’m tired of it all. It does absolutely nothing to heal hearts, nor does it make a positive impact for all cultures concerned. The narrative at times, is polarizing and just adds more fuel to the flames of discontent and division. That said, I am not diminishing a person’s right to telling a fictional story in how they see fit and I do realize the historical significance of the times…But Ellie’s “guilt” for her whiteness really bothered me.

It was sad to see Ellie questioning her own creation and felt this intense burden for being white and what she felt as a privileged life. Guilty by what many would consider association because of her skin color and where she was born? No. I wanted to tell her she is who she-like anyone is- by the way she lives her life, her belief system and how she treats herself and others. The privileges she felt she was born with because of her ethnicity doesn’t make her culpable. Furthermore, acknowledging racism, doesn’t nor shouldn’t require a certain skin color to be made to feel guilty, though as society shows, it happens more times than not.

Ellie recognized the oppression of the black community and wanted to take part in making a change. While she was not responsible for creating the broken and unjust system, she felt strongly about her decision to take a stand and made a huge sacrifice that cost her and all parties involved a devastating loss. Powerful and emotional story-telling there…Chamberlain brilliantly portrayed cause and effect.

My feelings about how the story was told is not to say I don’t have interest in reading about civil rights and different views on social issues. Nor am I denying it’s existence. Far from it…My issue fully lies in the manner in how Ellie’s ethnicity was portrayed. That said, I rallied on and read the story all the way through.

There were a few scenes in the story where I felt there was missed opportunities and in truth, to my dismay, I felt no connections to any of the characters. To put my complaints aside and a rocky start, I became invested in the story, and the development of Ellie’s growth and experiences with SCOPE. Many aspects were gut-wrenching, poignant, and heartfelt. I have no doubt many readers will find this story extraordinary.

Stephanie Hopkins

I obtained a galley copy of this book from the publishers through NetGalley for an honest review.

In the Moment of Writing

As someone who is an enthusiast journal writer and notetaker, I’m constantly thinking about my next page. What do I mean by that? When I’m thinking about my next page of writing, I’m thinking of the potential of the words that will fill that blank space. What will they say? What will I discover? I Imagine words slowly building and gradually increasing in speed as my mind suddenly unfolds with inspiration and thought. Those first few words tend to be a warm up or hesitate meanings of uncertainty. Writers shouldn’t be fearful to admit that or find fault with the admission. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer and you are new to the craft. Even the seasoned writers must keep in practice or at times, they find it difficult to get those words down.

There are many books on writing and there are some great ones and not so great ones. I’ve read lots of them. Natalie Goldberg’s Wild Mind and Writing Down the Bones are without a doubt my favorites. Especially, Wild Mind (Living the Writer’s Life.) I can’t say enough about the book and the inspiration and encouragement it gives me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read its passages and each time, her words spark new ideas and excitement in the craft. As I’m typing this blog post, Wild Mind is sitting encouragingly right above my keyboard cheering me on. “Keep going, you’re doing great!” She shouts. I shyly smile and keep typing while my heart and mind fills with confidence.

Even if what you wrote is not the grit of what you want to express, keep writing and then maybe go back to it after it has had time to rest. Or, read it out loud and you’ll get a better feel for it that way.

Ask yourself what you want to write about. Is it a memory? A recent event, what you ate that day, or a personal experience? Whatever it is, get it down no matter how it reads on paper. After-all, if all you are doing is thinking about it instead of expressing it on paper, your writing voice will continue to stay locked up, undiscovered. Start writing today, start right now and you’ll open a whole new world. Stephanie Hopkins