A Few of My Favorite Things

Art by Stephanie Hopkins

A few days ago, I was chatting with my good friend Lisl on the phone and she was talking about creating a blog post of her favorite things. Hello! Stop the presses! What fun! May I join? She is brilliant and our ideas turn into great conversations. Once we utter our silly and often times crazy greetings, before we know it, hours have gone by and we have gone down many rabbit holes. No joke. At some point, we usually start putting our heads together to come up with new blog topics and series. This blog topic, of favorite things, we decided on a few entertaining questions to answer.

After going through and answering these questions, I thought to myself that I would like to dig deeper into this topic. Or do I? It could be a scary place to venture. Kidding! Though I’m still pondering that it could possibly get really complex.

In Lisl’s post, she mentioned, about these things related to the lock-down many are experiencing globally and trying to find our happy place. Or how we can get to know each other more as individuals. I’ve heard many people around the world talk about how they found themselves through these troubling times and they’ve learned they have interests and talents; they otherwise would have probably never realized.

Be forewarned, some of my favorite things are subject to change at a moments notice. I have a tendency, on occasion, to be indecisive. Or is is because I love so many things? Let’s get into this, shall we?

Favorite lunchbox snack? Sugar, of course!

The chocolate variety. Possibly with peanut butter added to the mix. I don’t think I could survive without chocolate.

Favorite game to play outside? Bocce Ball

Love playing this game outdoors with family and friends! It has been far too long since the last time. It is one outdoor game I’m actually good at.

Fun fact: Did you know that Bocce’s origins date back to 5000 BC?

Favorite fairy tale: The Princess and the Pea

Don’t ask me why?

Favorite childhood memory? There are so many but going to the beach often was the best. Immensely grateful for growing up near the ocean. I’m always longing for the beach and try to go as much as possible.

Favorite nursery rhyme? Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Probably because it involves a boat and water.

Favorite bird: Chickadee

They’re so cute and tiny!

Favorite color(s) rose? Red or White

I’m a hopeless romantic. Swoon.

Some of you history lovers may be thinking of the Tudor rose. I dare say, I could be as well.

Favorite sea creature? Does Starfish count?

They are referred to as sea stars. How cool is that!?

Favorite thing about a rainy day? Listening to the sound of rain against the windows and rooftop. There is something calming about the sound of rain fall. Great time for reflection or to gather your pillows and comfy blankets to curl of with a book(s).

Often times when I’m writing or reading, I will listen to a rain app if it’s not raining outside.

Favorite dinosaur? Velociraptor

I know, that sounds vicious and dark. But I have a perfectly good reason why they are my favorite. Honest. Might write about it in another blog post.

Favorite fictional place you’d want to visit?

Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings.

Oh, for so many reasons. Narnia comes in second or sometimes first.

Favorite road to drive on?

There are so many wonderful roads in my State. Choose one?

Goodness, that is simply impossible. I would have to say the back roads to Dahlonega from the Ball Ground area are a treasure. This is ridiculous because I really can’t choose a particular road in North Georgia. Also, the roads in the Blue Ridge Mountains are spectacular. One doesn’t mind getting lost driving along those back roads. Watch out for Dear and other wild animals, such as, Squirrels! I swear, they seem to have a death wish.

Favorite things about America? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Freedom of expression, individualism, opportunity, diverse cultures and freedom to live by your faith in God.

Favorite 80’s song? Oh, heavens. There are a lot of 80’s favorites! I have to choose just one? What is the fun in that?

U2: With or Without You

Or Free Fallin by Tom Petty. Hmm…Okay, lets go with, With or Without You. Sigh. Not a fair question at all.

Favorite music genre(s)? I have several favorite music genres, depending on my mood. For everyday purposes: Classical music and 90’s Alternative.

Favorite American Classic movie? Picking just one classic movie is like asking someone to pick just one favorite book or one favorite song. Impossible!

All About Eve, comes to mind. I never get tired of watching that one. It’s brilliant and the cast of characters…swoon. The film came out in 1950 and, and, and Betty Davis and Anna Baxter co-stars in it! Love!

BUT, if I had to choose a favorite film period, it would be the 1940’s. Oh, for so many reasons. I think this causes for a blog post about the film industry in the 1940’s. Yes, I think I will.

Favorite Leonardo DiCaprio movie? How can I even…

If I had to choose the best acting, he performed in a movie, it would have to be, Shutter Island. I think. I’m torn. Because of his acting in, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and a couple of others. Hmm…

Perhaps, many of you will disagree with me on this one. I would probably would disagree with myself too.

Favorite Harry Potter movie? Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (set in 1992-93)

Favorite celebrity? Ryan Reynolds Swoon. Fanning myself over here. I know you must be thinking, really Stephanie? I can’t help it. .

Favorite craft?

Abstract by Stephanie Hopkins

I’m a mixed media artist and I appreciate the essence of crafting as a whole. My Main go-to craft is collage because of its form and I use it quite often in my journals and ephemera making. I’m also an abstract painter and my current focus is creating new paintings and exploring different techniques. Truly, I can’t answer this question by naming one form of craft. Surely many will understand this.

Favorite thing to cook?

Breakfast

Favorite comfort food?

Most foods that are related to pie or stews.

Favorite Asian dish?

Crispy Honey Chicken with Fried Rice though I try real hard to stick to a plant based diet. Alas, I’m failing miserably right now. Though I’m totally blameless, of course.

Favorite ice cream flavor? Rocky Road

Favorite season? Autumn

Favorite holiday? Christmas

Foreign country: Scotland. I’ve never been and one day I will journey there. Might blog about this more.

Favorite TV show:  Currently, Miss Scarlet and the Duke. Oh, and Sanditon.

Period shows and movies are my favorite.

I will say I long for more period shows that takes place in America. That I can tolerate and not cringe at every inaccuracy. Don’t think me a snob. I’m a history enthusiast, particular and I can not abide certain liberties concerning real-life events, social norms, objects not of the period, manner of dress and people. History is interesting enough without it being distorted. Though do not mistaken that I’m not aware when it comes to historical, there are allowances for artistic license-if you will. There are so many ways to look at this topic. Maybe we shall another time.

Instrument: Always, Classical Piano. I keep having this strange feeling I might have said something else once?

One of my favorites played on the piano, “Moonlight Sonata” by Beethoven.

Bach/Gonoud – Ave Maria is another great one! Okay, there are a lot of classical favorites played on the piano.

Have you listened to, Chopin – Preludes, Op. 28: No. 15 “Raindrop”? A must!

Swoon.

I seem to be doing a lot of swooning lately. Have you noticed?

Way to Relax: Reading, crafting, sewing and long walks in the woods.

This was so much fun! What are your favorite things? -Stephanie Hopkins

Be sure to check out Lisl’s Favorite Things at before the second sleep!

New Beginnings: Spring is Near

Butterfly II

Happy Wednesday! Today I am sharing a glimpse at a recent page in my smash book. I have always been drawn to butterflies and this coming Spring is inspiring me to create in depths I haven’t reached before. They’ve been bottled up inside me far too long and the Butterfly is about new beginnings. How fitting.

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Happiness is a butterfly, which when pursued, is always just beyond your grasp, but which, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you. -Nathaniel Hawthorne

Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne was a 19th Century American writer whose literature of the Nation’s Colonial history is well noted. His writings focus is around new England and evokes moral Puritan inspiration.

What stories have you read by Hawthorne?

Stephanie

Wish-List 5: Presidential Reading

As many of you know by now, I have just started a reading challenge of the Presidents of the United States. I’m currently reading about Theodore Roosevelt and still working my way though the text. There are five hundred and fifty-five pages to that book. Anyhow, a lot of the books on my list have a ton of pages and I’m beginning to wonder if I will be able to get this challenge complete in year with all my other reading. We will see. I know I sound a bit daunted but I assure you, I’m thrilled to be taking on this worthwhile challenge.  You can read more about the challenge HERE. Below is the book I need next and I’m on the lookout for them through my local independent bookstores.

Stephanie M. Hopkins

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Obama From Promise to PowerObama: From Promise to Power

by David Mendell

Hardcover, 416 pages

Published August 14th 2007 by Amistad

Barack Obama is arguably the most dynamic political figure to grace the American stage since John F. Kennedy. His meteoric rise from promise to power has stunned even the cynics and inspired a legion of devout followers.

For anyone who wants to know more about the man, David Mendell’s Obama is essential reading. Mendell, who covered Obama for the Chicago Tribune, had far-reaching access to the Chicago politician as Obama climbed the ladder to the White House, the details of which he shares in this compelling biography. Positioning Obama as the savior of a fumbling Democratic party, Mendell reveals how Obama conquered Illinois politics and paved the way brick by brick for a galvanizing, historic presidential run.

With a new afterword by the author, which includes a fresh perspective on Barack Obama following his two historic terms as the first African-American president, and with exclusive interviews with family members and top advisers, and details on Obama’s voting record, David Mendell offers a complete, complex, and revealing portrait. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in American politics in general and President Barack Obama in particular.

President ReaganPresident Reagan: The Role of a Lifetime by Lou Cannon

Paperback, 920 pages

Published March 31st 2000 by PublicAffairs

Hailed by the New Yorker as “a superlative study of a president and his presidency,” Lou Cannon’s President Reagan remains the definitive account of our most significant presidency in the last fifty years. Ronald Wilson Reagan, the first actor to be elected president, turned in the performance of a lifetime. But that performance concealed the complexities of the man, baffling most who came in contact with him. Who was the man behind the makeup? Only Lou Cannon, who covered Reagan through his political career, can tell us. The keenest Reagan-watcher of them all, he has been the only author to reveal the nature of a man both shrewd and oblivious. Based on hundreds of interviews with the president, the First Lady, and hundreds of the administration’s major figures, President Reagan takes us behind the scenes of the Oval Office. Cannon leads us through all of Reagan’s roles, from the affable cowboy to the self-styled family man; from the politician who denounced big government to the president who created the largest peace-time deficit; from the statesman who reviled the Soviet government to the Great Communicator who helped end the cold war.

Jimmy CarterJimmy Carter (The American Presidents #39)

by Julian E. Zelizer, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. (Editor), Sean Wilentz (Editor)

ebook, 208 pages

Published September 14th 2010 by Times Books

The maverick politician from Georgia who rode the post- Watergate wave into office but whose term was consumed by economic and international crises 

A peanut farmer from Georgia, Jimmy Carter rose to national power through mastering the strategy of the maverick politician. As the face of the “New South,” Carter’s strongest support emanated from his ability to communicate directly to voters who were disaffected by corruption in politics.

But running as an outsider was easier than governing as one, as Princeton historian Julian E. Zelizer shows in this examination of Carter’s presidency. Once in power, Carter faced challenges sustaining a strong political coalition, as he focused on policies that often antagonized key Democrats, whose support he desperately needed. By 1980, Carter stood alone in the Oval Office as he confronted a battered economy, soaring oil prices, American hostages in Iran, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Carter’s unpopularity enabled Ronald Reagan to achieve a landslide victory, ushering in a conservative revolution. But during Carter’s post-presidential career, he has emerged as an important voice for international diplomacy and negotiation, remaking his image as a statesman for our time.

Write It When I'm GoneWrite It When I’m Gone: Remarkable Off-the-Record Conversations With Gerald R. Ford

by Thomas M. DeFrank, Thomas M. DeFrank

Hardcover, 272 pages

Published October 30th 2007 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons

In 1974, Newsweek correspondent Thomas M. DeFrank was interviewing Gerald Ford when the Vice President blurted out something astonishingly indiscreet. He then extracted a promise not to publish it. “Write it when I’m dead,” Ford said – and thus began a thirty-two-year relationship.

During the last fifteen years of their conversations, Ford opened up to DeFrank, speaking in a way few presidents ever have. Here the award-winning journalist reveals these private talks, as Ford discusses his experiences with his fellow presidents, the Warren Commission, and his exchanges with Bill Clinton during the latter’s impeachment process. In addition, he shares his thoughts about both Bush administrations, the Iraq war, his beloved wife Betty, and the frustrations of aging. Write It When I’m Gone is not only a historical document but an unprecedented portrait of a president.

NixonlandNixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America

by Rick Perlstein

Hardcover, 895 pages

Published May 13th 2008 by Scribner/Simon & Schuster (NYC)

Politically insightful, Nixonland recaptures the turbulent 60s & early 70s, revealing how Dick Nixon rose from the political grave to seize & hold the presidency. Perlstein’s account begins with the ’65 Watts riots, nine months after Johnson’s landslide victory over Goldwater appeared to herald a permanent liberal consensus. Yet the next year, scores of liberals were tossed from Congress, America was more divided than ever & a disgraced politician was on his way to a shocking comeback.

Between ’65 & ’72, America experienced a 2nd civil war. From its ashes, today’s political world was born. It was the era not only of Nixon, Johnson, Agnew, Humphrey, McGovern, Daley & Geo Wallace but Abbie Hoffman, Ronald Reagan, Angela Davis, Ted Kennedy, Chas Manson, John Lindsay & Jane Fonda. There are glimpses of Jimmy Carter, Geo H.W. Bush, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry & even of two ambitious young men named Karl Rove & Bill Clinton–& an unambitious young man named Geo W. Bush.

Cataclysms tell the story: Blacks trashing their neighborhoods. White suburbanites wielding shotguns. Student insurgency over the Vietnam War. The assassinations of Rbt F. Kennedy & Martin Luther King. The riots at the ’68 Democratic Nat’l Convention. The fissuring of the Democrats into warring factions manipulated by the dirty tricks of Nixon & his Committee to ReElect the President. Nixon pledging a dawn of nat’l unity, governing more divisively than any president before him, then directing a criminal conspiracy, the Watergate cover-up, from the Oval Office. Then, in 11/72, Nixon, harvesting the bitterness & resentment born of turmoil, was reelected in a landslide, not only setting the stage for his ’74 resignation but defining the terms of the ideological divide characterizing America today.

Filled with prodigious research, driven by a powerful narrative, Perlstein’s account of how America divided confirms his place as one of our country’s most celebrated historians.

Check out my fellow book bloggers wish-lists!

Holly at 2 Kids and Tired
Colleen-A Literary Vacation 
Heather at The Maiden’s Court
Erin at Flashlight Commentary
Magdalena at A Bookish Swede

stay-calm-and-support-book-bloggers

Presidential Reading Challenge

Theodore Roosevelt and coffee

My friend and fellow book blogger at Flashlight Commentary started a Presidential Reading Challenge in January and as I have been following her progress, another friend and I became intrigued with her journey. I has spoken to her about her challenge earlier in the year and talked about doing a reading challenge of First Ladies in 2019, because I am backlogged on book reviews to get out. Alas, this wasn’t going to do. I am thrilled with her challenge and admire her for taking on a substantial project worthwhile.

I’m a bit late in the game but I have decided to join the challenge with another friend and I decided to start with Theodore Roosevelt because I wanted to read about him so bad! *laughing* Anyhow, silliness aside, I’ve decided after I finish this book, I will go back and start with Obama and work backwards. Since Trump is the current sitting President, I will wait. I would prefer not to read about Presidents while they are alive but since I am doing a challenge, it will have to do.

The lesser known presidents might present a bit of a challenge and most likely I will order them from Amazon and scouring thrift stories and independent bookstore’s. I’m also in the process of clearing the shelf you see behind me in the picture below to dedicate space for the presidents.

Me in March 2018

Stephanie M. Hopkins

Be sure to check out Flashlight Commentary’s post on this challenge. She has listed some wonderful titles. Also, I was looking for biographies on my Great, Great Uncle President Woodrow Wilson and stumbled upon it this amazing site: My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

I will be blogging about my presidential reading journey often and will be compiling material and notes to create a journal for this project.  History teachers should consider doing this with their students. I think it would be a great tool to learn and visuals really help.

Stephanie M. Hopkins