Saturday Sunday: Work Life Balance

Real Talk:

“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” —Stephen R. Covey, author

I hope you all had a wonderful week! I’ve worked a lot this week and was able to take some time to relax some and I got a lot accomplished in the creating of hand work projects. I’ve also listed great items in my Poshmark Closet. This week was a real eye opener for me and I will tell you why.

This past Thursday the sun was shinning and the air was crisps and with  a calm breeze. The perfect elements for back porch sitting. I took my lunch on the screened porch and while I sat there, I listened to the distance sounds of a leaf blower, someone using a hammer, and the sounds of the wind blowing through the trees. A peaceful moment to be sure and a time to relax a little before getting back to work.

Later on, in the day I reflected back to that moment and realized that my work/life balance is out of balance- if you will. I really enjoyed that moment on the porch and it helped me get through the rest of my day. If the weather permits during the work week, I might take a walk to the lake during my lunch breaks.

I’m also making a point to take a few moments each day to work on my art and slow stitching projects. That is really helping a great deal. Another helpful life/balance activity is to meet friends for coffee and good conversation. I started doing that more often last fall and it has changed my life. I’m an extreme introvert and pushing myself to get out more has been eye opening. Just be sure to find your tribe that is good for you. People who encourage you and lift you up.

Me in the morningHere is where I went wrong. Yesterday morning I took a picture of what I looked like waking up.  My hair is braided because its so curly and long now that if I don’t braid it at night, its a tangled mess. See those dark circles under my eyes? I stayed up really late to work on Poshmark, editing, proofreading, and blogging. I’m talking through the night into the wee hours of 2 am! That was not a great idea and it won’t happen again. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning and it had messed with my morning routine which sets my day. Having said that, most weeks I’m working 24/7 but I usually have a cut off in the evening times at 10 pm. I’m now setting that cut off time to 7 pm. I’ve also decided to cut my hours on the weekends and no longer work on Sundays.

People think working from home is glamorous and a luxury. Its not. Would I prefer working outside the home? Yes. One day I want to make that happen but I want the job to be the right fit for me. (Yes, working from home is a right fit for a lot of people and they love it. There are many aspects working from home I do actually like. I might get to that in another post.) Sometimes online I see “waking up in bed selfies” and I’m like…what? No way! Do they have make-up on? Haha! Anyhow, I want to be real and show y’all not every morning for self employed people is all sunshine and roses. Don’t get me wrong, I’m blessed and grateful. I just want people to know that working from home is REAL HARD work and sometimes it’s not easy to step away from it because your work is all around you. Also often  times there is no one to hold you accountable so it is on you to make it happen. 

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“Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”

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We live in a fast-paced society and it can really impact ones mental and physical health. This year for me is about slowing down and enjoying life more and just being in the present. Taking the time to smell the roses. Finding that work/life balance.

Have a lovely weekend and find your balance! God bless.

-Stephanie

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Be sure to visit my Facebook Page to discover more about what I am doing these days.

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Follow my closet @artsycouture42 and use my code: ARTSYCOUTURE42 to get a free $10 credit when signing up for Poshmark! www.poshmark.

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Saturday Sunday: Weekend Vibes

tea cup image

Photo by Stephanie Hopkins

I want to thank you all for your support and visiting Layered Pages. Have a bless weekend. See you on Monday!

“We always have to choose to live our lives to the fullest.  No one is better or worse than anyone else.  We are different and beautiful.” ~ Mattie Stepanek

Cover Crush & Collage: The Camera Never Lies by David Rawlings

Tha Camera Never Lies

Book Collage by Stephanie Hopkins

I spotted this book on Facebook  and the title, colors of the background and the premise intrigued me. I have an older mix media art piece I created on Canvas that I thought would be perfect for a collage of this book. I took my image and the book cover and made digital art with them. I did sharpen and added a few little mediums to really make it pop. I think it turned out pretty cool.

 

 

 

The Camera Never LiesThe Camera Never Lies

by David Rawlings

Daniel, Kelly, and Milly appear to be the perfect family. But an old camera will expose secrets no one wants developed.

Daniel Whitely is a successful marriage counselor and bestselling author, yet his own marriage is in crisis and his daughter is drifting further away each day. To make matters worse, the deadline for his second book has come and gone, and he still hasn’t written a single word.

When Daniel inherits an old camera from his grandfather, he notices an inscription on the bottom: “No matter what you think you might see, the camera never lies.”

Daniel begins using the camera, but every time he develops his photos, they threaten to reveal secrets that could sabotage both his marriage and his career—exposing him as a fraud and destroying the life he has worked so hard to build.

He’s faced with a choice: keep his secrets and save his career or come clean and possibly save his family. Which will he choose? Which would you choose?

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Cover Crush banner

Cover Crush is a weekly series that originated by Erin at Historical Fiction Reader 

Other book bloggers who participated in the great cover crushes series. 

Magdalena at A Bookaholic Swede
Colleen at A Literary Vacation
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Holly at 2 Kids and Tired

(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie.)

A New Year Of Layered Pages

Me2019 was an interesting year to say the least and I took a much-needed break from book reviewing among other things…I am slowly getting back in book reviewing but on a different scale altogether. I read 25 books in 2019 and hope to read the same amount for 2020! I have amazing mix media projects coming up for the year and I look forward to revealing them as the new year continues.

Today I want to share three highlight books I read in 2019.

Where the Crawdads SingHow long can you protect your heart?

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

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I Was Anastasia

Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.

Russia, July 17, 1918
Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed.


Germany, February 17, 1920

A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.

Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.

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The Turn of the Key

Page-turning psychological thriller

When she stumbles across the advert, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss: a live-in nanny position, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten by the luxurious ‘smart’ home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare – one that will end with a child dead and her in a cell awaiting trial for murder.

She knows she’s made mistakes. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty – at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

Full of spellbinding menace, The Turn of the Key is a gripping modern-day haunted house thriller from the Agatha Christie of our time.

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I am continuing to sell fashion on Poshmark and I’m working on additions to my business as well. Can’t wait to share more.

Follow my closet @artsycouture42 and use my code: ARTSYCOUTURE42 to get a free $10 credit when signing up for Poshmark! www.poshmark.

Happy New Year!

Stephanie

 

History Surrounds Us With Stuart S. Laing

It is always a pleasure to have Author and history enthusiast Stuart S. Laing visit Layered Pages. He talks with me about the images he captures of Edinburgh and gives us a glimpse of it’s fascinating history! 

Stuart, I have been enjoying the photos of Edinburgh you have been posting on social media. Even though I haven’t had the chance to visit the city, it is on my bucket list! When you find an image to photograph, what is going through your mind?

Stuart

Stuart S. Laing

Thank you, and I would love to give you a guided tour around town one day. As to taking photos I think it just comes down to being in the moment. I love the architecture of the Old Town, the history surrounding you, and the energy of the people both local and visitors from all corners of the world. Trying to capture just a hint of that is such fun. But I am strictly of the point and click school of photography.

The architecture is certainly breathtaking!  You really do have a great eye for imagery. Which I believe is part of your story telling in books. What do you characters have to say about that?

I think Robert Young would agree with you. He would point out that the more you can see, the more you can know. A shady character like Shug Nicholls would prefer people not go prying into what he and his old adversary, Sergeant MacIan of the Town Guard, get up too. What I try to achieve with words is to paint the reader into the scene so they can be there and feel the cobbled streets beneath their feet and catch a waft of the stink from open sewers or the sweet aroma of perfumed ladies as they pass by.

I notice you choose a black and white medium for your pictures. Is there a particular reason why?

I think the benefit of black and white is it brings an element of doubt into a picture, was it taken yesterday or 50 years ago? It’s my attempt to try to capture the timelessness of a city which seems to never change on the surface but in reality has been in constant motion as old buildings crumble and new ones rise. The thing which saves Edinburgh from the anonymity which besets so many city centres is the fact that in large the centre of town has managed to escape the concrete and glass monstrosities of so many other old cities.

Edinburgh 6What do you love most about Edinburgh?

The simple answer is everything. As I mentioned earlier it’s the history, the buildings, the noise and the hustle and bustle. I know that many locals decry events which fill the centre of town such as the

Festival Fringe which draws tens of thousands daily throughout August but I actually love the crowds. I think that many forget that until the development of the New Town from the 1760s onwards, Edinburgh was largely shoehorned into a space smaller than many modern city parks. It was this which led to Edinburgh Old Town being home to the first skyscrapers as builders went up rather than out. So, for me, seeing those crowds is simply an echo of the past when the Royal Mile was home to shops, coffeehouse, stalls, animals, horses and carts all competing for space. These days there is little risk of having a cow squash your foot under its hoof so people probably should count their blessings

Edinburgh IIHow often do you get a chance to visit the city?

I try to get across as often as possible, and normally at least several times a year. Having a membership of Historic Scotland allows me unlimited entry to Edinburgh Castle which provides another excuse to pop over.

 

 

 

Edinburgh 7

Cowgate before the ‘improvements’ of the 1860s

What have you discovered on your adventures to be the most surprising?

Probably that despite all the changes Edinburgh has faced, urban planners, great fires, which destroyed a large area of the Royal Mile meaning that parts of the New Town are actually older than parts of the Old Town, is the fact that you can take the map of town drawn in the 1740s and use it to guide you through the streets, closes and wynds (alleyways) today. Even when regeneration meant the slum dwellings of the Cowgate were obliterated in the name of progress in the 1860s, the new homes and shops were all built on the footprint of what they replaced. It is still remarkably easy to walk from the Royal Mile to the south side of town following the exact same route you would have taken in the 15th, 16th, 17th or 18th century. That is what constantly inspires me to keep going back.

Edinburgh 4Describe Edinburgh to me from your mind.

Edinburgh, to me, is a strange combination of what you see and what you feel. When I stand on the cobbles by St Giles Cathedral in the very heart of town I don’t only see the beauty of the church before me but, in my mind, I also see the tall, grim walls of the old Tolbooth which once stood here, its location marked by brass markers set in the cobbles. It was here that William Burke, one half of the murderous duo with William Hare, met his end in 1829 on gallows built where the Tolbooth had once stood. It was from the Tolbooth that Captain Porteous of the Town Guard was seized by a mob who would lynch him in the Grassmarket. However it was also here where stalls once stood ran by women selling their wares such as home weaving and hand knitted clothes, fresh wild flowers and vegetables to the people of town. Nearby the famous poet Allan Ramsay operated the first circulating library which opened in 1725. That is what fascinates me about Edinburgh, the constant mixture between beauty and darkness. It was the city of Enlightenment when Scotland led the world in the advancement of science while at the same time huge crowds would gather in good humoured revelry to watch the public hangings in the street. The city itself presents visitors with its split personality. On one hand you have the cramped, towering tenements with the warren of narrow alleys running under and between them where every Close tells its own story and where you can get a taste of how the city once looked and felt, and occasionally smelled as you venture down them. Meanwhile only a short walk away you discover the elegance, charm and open, broad streets of the Georgian New Town where upmarket retailers and fashionistas can be found sipping artisan coffees in the streets where Robert Louis Stevenson grew up. That is what keeps drawing me back again and again. The dual nature of a city where everything changes and nothing does. If that doesn’t make sense you need to visit and spend a day just walking the streets and let some of fair Edina’s spirit work its way into your heart.

Stuart, thank you!

And thank you for allowing me to share my love of Auld Reekie with you. And remember that invite for a guided tour is always open.

Thank you, everyone for visiting Layered Pages today. Stay tuned for our follow up post about History Surrounds Us coming soon here at Layered Pages! -Stephanie

More About Stuart: 

Born and raised on the east coast of Scotland in the ancient Pictish Kingdom of Fife Stuart grew up looking across the Firth of Forth towards the spires and turrets of the city of Edinburgh and its castle atop its volcanic eyrie.

He has always been fascinated by the history of Auld Reekie and has spend most of his life studying Scottish history in all its aspects whenever he finds the time between family, work and the thousand and one other things that seek to distract him.
Despite the vast panorama of Scotland’s history he always find himself being drawn back to the cobbled streets of the Old Town. Those streets have provided the inspiration for his stories and characters.

He would urge all visitors to Scotland’s ancient capital to (briefly) venture into one of the narrow closes running down from the Royal Mile to get a flavour of how alive with mischief, mayhem, love and laughter these streets once were.

Stuart’s Facebook Pages where you can find more images from him and information about his stories HERE.

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(All book reviews, interviews, guest posts and promotions are originals. In order to use any text or pictures from Layered Pages, please ask for permission from Stephanie Hopkins)

 

 

 

Saturday Sunday: Book Collage & Lost Love

Book Art Nancys book

Author Nancy Bilyeau sent me a galley copy of her novella, The Ghost of Madison Avenue and the cover inspired me to create a mix media digital collage for the cover. I started reading the story Thursday night and I was so engrossed in the story, I read late into the night. What a perfect time to read this hauntingly good story.

My background choice for the collage comes from my own picture of a denim rag rug I sewed this week. The textures are digital stars and I felt they added a mysterious feel to the cover. Be sure to get your copy of this fabulous story on Amazon! My review coming soon! -Stephanie Hopkins

A Christmas Novella in Old New York

In this compelling and poignant story, bestselling author Nancy Bilyeau takes readers to New York City’s Morgan Library in December 1912, when two very different people haunted by lost love come together in an unexpected way.

Helen O’Neill, part of a tight-knit Irish-American family in the Bronx, is only too happy to report to work at the spectacular private library built on Madison Avenue by millionaire financier J. P. Morgan. The head librarian, the brilliant and beautiful Belle da Costa Greene, had hired Helen away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art after she witnessed Helen’s unusual talent with handling artifacts.

About Nancy Bilyeau

Nancy Bilyeau is the author of the historical thrillers “The Blue” and “Dreamland” and the Tudor mystery series “The Crown,” “The Chalice,” and “The Tapestry.” She is a magazine editor who has lived in the United States and Canada.

In “The Blue,” Nancy drew on her own heritage as a Huguenot. She is a direct descendant of Pierre Billiou, a French Huguenot who immigrated to what was then New Amsterdam (later New York City) in 1661. Nancy’s ancestor, Isaac, was born on the boat crossing the Atlantic, the St. Jean de Baptiste. Pierre’s stone house still stands and is the third oldest house in New York State.

Nancy, who studied History at the University of Michigan, has worked on the staffs of “InStyle,” “Good Housekeeping,” and “Rolling Stone.” She is currently the deputy editor of the Center on Media, Crime and Justice at the Research Foundation of CUNY and a regular contributor to “Town & Country” and “Mystery Scene Magazine.”

Nancy’s mind is always in past centuries but she currently lives with her husband and two children in New York City.

Wilmington North Carolina

I’ve been meaning to blog about a few highlight pictures of my families Thanksgiving Vacation on the North Carolina Coast. Better late than never! Today I’m sharing a few images from our visit to Wilmington. This City pre-dates the Colonial era. I highly recommend studying Wilmington’s history. We walked around the Cape Fear River Front and also visited a few shops. I did manage to take a few pictures of houses. The historic district homes are stunning! -Stephanie

 

2019 Musings and New Projects

Me in March 20182018 was the first year I did not reach my reading goal in a very long, long time. I thought I would be upset over that but surprisingly I am not. I still read a lot of books considering…  I want to focus on the quality of reads and I am wanting to really dig deep into my Presidents Reading Challenge. Also, I am starting new works on Layered Pages.

This year I will be posting about a variety of mediums. Including fashion, art, books, food and photography. However, I did a little of that last year but you’ll be seeing a lot more this time around and with a lot more creativity. Such as you’ll get to see guest posts from artists, authors, photographer’s and people who work in the nutritional industry. I am really thrilled about these new and exciting projects coming up on my website.

This week I finished reading. The Long Road to Mercy. I’m still thinking about how I want to discuss my thoughts on this book. There were things I liked about it and things I did not like. Tomorrow I am starting, The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau. She is among the very few authors whose books I’ll review anymore. Her stories are amazing!

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Follow my closet  @artsycouture42 and use my code: ARTSYCOUTURE42 to get a free $5 credit when signing up for Poshmark! http://www.poshmark.com

long road to mercyLong Road to Mercy (Atlee Pine #1) by David Baldacci

#1 New York Times bestselling author David Baldacci introduces a remarkable new character: Atlee Pine, an FBI special agent assigned to the remote wilds of the western United States. Ever since her twin sister was abducted by a notorious serial killer at age five, Atlee has spent her life hunting down those who hurt others. And she’s the best at it. She could be one of the Bureau’s top criminal profilers, if she didn’t prefer catching criminals in the vast wilderness of the West to climbing the career ladder in the D.C. office. Her chosen mission is a lonesome one–but that suits her just fine.

Now, Atlee is called in to investigate the mutilated carcass of a mule found in the Grand Canyon–and hopefully, solve the disappearance of its rider. But this isn’t the only recent disappearance. In fact, it may be just the first clue, the key to unraveling a rash of other similar missing persons cases in the canyon. . .

blueThe Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

In eighteenth century London, porcelain is the most seductive of commodities; fortunes are made and lost upon it. Kings do battle with knights and knaves for possession of the finest pieces and the secrets of their manufacture.

For Genevieve Planché, an English-born descendant of Huguenot refugees, porcelain holds far less allure; she wants to be an artist, a painter of international repute, but nobody takes the idea of a female artist seriously in London. If only she could reach Venice.

When Genevieve meets the charming Sir Gabriel Courtenay, he offers her an opportunity she can’t refuse; if she learns the secrets of porcelain, he will send her to Venice. But in particular, she must learn the secrets of the colour blue…

The ensuing events take Genevieve deep into England’s emerging industrial heartlands, where not only does she learn about porcelain, but also about the art of industrial espionage.

With the heart and spirit of her Huguenot ancestors, Genevieve faces her challenges head on, but how much is she willing to suffer in pursuit and protection of the colour blue?

New Beginnings for Layered Pages

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Layered Pages will now be a blend of literature (Book Sales Starting on Friday), art, photography, and fashion! Be sure to tell your friends all about the new changes to Layered Pages!

My latest listings on Poshmark is now live! 10 listings in all! Be sure to check this out and my other items in my closet!  Make a bundle and get 15% OFF 3 or more items from this closet! Poshmark Website 

Use my code ARTSYCOUTURE42 to sign up for Poshmark and get a $5.00 credit!  

This past weekend I was going to get my art on but I did not get a moment to do so! Very frustrating but I shall make up for it soon and share with you all my upcoming creations.

What I’m reading: Sailing Lessons by Hannah McKinnon

On the shores of Cape Cod, the Bailey sisters reunite with their long-lost father for a summer of hope and forgiveness in this heartfelt novel from the author of the “sharp and evocative” (Kirkus Reviews) Mystic Summer, The Lake Season, and The Summer House, sure to appeal to “fans of Elin Hilderbrand” (Booklist).

Wrenn Bailey has lived all her life on Cape Cod with her mother Lindy, older sister Shannon, and younger sister Piper. Growing up, life was dictated by the seasons with sleepy gray winters where only the locals stayed on, followed by the sharp influx and colorful bustle of summer tourists who swept up the elbow of the Cape and infiltrated their small paradise.

But it wasn’t just the tourists who interrupted Wrenn’s formative years; her father—brilliant but troubled photographer Caleb—has long made a habit of drifting in and out of his girls’ lives. Until the one summer he left the Cape and did not return again.

Now, almost twenty years later, Caleb has come back one last time, suffering from pancreatic cancer and seeking absolution. Wrenn and her sisters each respond differently to their father’s return, determined to find closure. But that means returning to the past and revisiting old wounds—wounds that cause the tightknit Bailey women to confront their own wishes and wants, and admit to their own wrong-doings over the years. In a place that brings both great comfort and great pain, the Bailey sisters experience a summer on the Cape that promises not only hard endings, but perhaps, hopeful new beginnings.

 What I’m listening to: Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman-Fabulous so far!

“A psychological thriller that captivated me from page one. What unfolds makes for a wild, page-turning ride! It’s the perfect beach read!”—Reese Witherspoon (Reese’s Book Club x Hello Sunshine book pick)

A shocking discovery on a honeymoon in paradise changes the lives of a picture-perfect couple in this taut psychological thriller debut–for readers of Ruth Ware, Paula Hawkins, and Shari Lapena.

If you could make one simple choice that would change your life forever, would you? 

Erin is a documentary filmmaker on the brink of a professional breakthrough, Mark a handsome investment banker with big plans. Passionately in love, they embark on a dream honeymoon to the tropical island of Bora Bora, where they enjoy the sun, the sand, and each other. Then, while scuba diving in the crystal blue sea, they find something in the water. . . .

Could the life of your dreams be the stuff of nightmares?

Suddenly the newlyweds must make a dangerous choice: to speak out or to protect their secret. After all, if no one else knows, who would be hurt? Their decision will trigger a devastating chain of events. . . .

Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave?

Wonder no longer. Catherine Steadman’s enthralling voice shines throughout this spellbinding debut novel. With piercing insight and fascinating twists, Something in the Water challenges the reader to confront the hopes we desperately cling to, the ideals we’re tempted to abandon, and the perfect lies we tell ourselves.

 

Collaborations Among Artists

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I have an amazing collaboration between two artists coming up soon that I can’t wait to tell you more about! It is brilliant! The project will be something you have never seen on social media before. When I started L.A.P. it Marketing, I wanted to create a whole new way of promoting literature, art and photography and we are finally putting the idea into action. It takes a lot of work and creativity but well worth the effort and will give our audience something new to get excited about! You will be seeing more of this thrilling venture in the coming weeks. To follow what we are doing, be sure to like and follow L.A.P it Marketing Facebook Page!

Stephanie M. Hopkins