Writing Prompt #79: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 41)

Week #41: Hobbies.

I absolutely love reading. Books give me so much joy! I love the fact that I’m able to read almost every night before I go to sleep. I have quite a personal library that runs from my childhood to the present, but I also love libraries!

Writing is another hobby. I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old. I do regret throwing away a lot of my old journals. However, I did keep the blue binder, covered in stickers from doctor’s offices and gifts. Those have both handwritten and typed stories from fifth grade through high school. Who knows, you may see some of them here on the blog.

Last year, I restarted my hobby of American Girl dolls and books. It took off like wildfire. I have more dolls, clothes, shoes, and accessories now more than ever. Al is helping me design and build a custom doll cabinet for my office.

Those three are my main hobbies. But, I also love traveling, photography, cooking, playing computer games, riding my bike, playing softball, trivia, and spending time in nature. I love using my camera, and I’m learning how to take better photos with mu phone. I would love to be on a softball team again. Eventually, I would love to have the Carmen Sandiego games, and the Roller Coaster Tycoon games on my computer – So many awesome memories! I also enjoy watching game shows – Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy! will always be my favorites.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂


Getting Personal #89: Fourth TBR Recap

Matilda Book Quote

Image Credit: Pinterest

Welcome back!

In case you’re interested, here are the links to my previous TBR posts:

This is what I’ve read since my last update in July:

  1. The Lost Symbol, Dan Brown
  2. The Unknown and Impossible: How a research facility in Virginia mastered the air and conquered space, Tamara Dietrich, Mark St. John Erickson, and Mike Holtzclaw
  3. The Runaway: A Maryellen Mystery, Alison Hart
  4. The Lady’s Slipper: A Melody Mystery, Emma Carlson Berne
  5. The End of Everything, Megan Abbott
  6. Love and Loyalty: A Felicity Classic 1, Valerie Tripp
  7. A Stand for Independence: A Felicity Classic 2, Valerie Tripp
  8. Gunpowder and Tea Cakes: My Journey with Felicity, Kathleen Ernst
  9. Catch Me If You Can: The True Story of a Real Fake, Frank W. Abagnale, and Stan Redding
  10. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
  11. The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins, A World War II Soldier, Walter Dean Myers
  12. Growing Up with Aloha: A Nanea Classic 1, Kirby Larson
  13. Hula on the Home Front: A Nanea Classic 2, Kirby Larson
  14. Prints in the Sand: My Journey with Nanea, Erin Falligant

And, here’s my updated list!

Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of October 2017:

  1. The Language of Silence, Tiffany Truitt
  2. Black Rabbit Hall, Eve Chase
  3. Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell
  4. The Red Tent, Anita Diamant
  5. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  6. New Boy, Julian Houston
  7. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  8. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  10. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  11. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  12. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  13. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  14. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  15. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  16. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  17. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  18. You Will Know Me, Megan Abbott
  19. Dare Me, Megan Abbott
  20. The Fever: A Novel, Megan Abbott
  21. The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  22. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  23. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, Laura Hillenbrand
  24. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  25. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
  26. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  27. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  28. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  29. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  30. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  31. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  32. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  33. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  34. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  35. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  36. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  37. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  38. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  39. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie
  40. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter
  41. The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
  42. Caraval, Stephanie Garber
  43. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  44. The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  45. Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1, Valerie Tripp
  46. Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2, Valerie Tripp
  47. Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit, Valerie Tripp
  48. Autumn Street, Lois Lowry
  49. The Giver, Lois Lowry
  50. Gathering Blue, Lois Lowry
  51. Messenger, Lois Lowry
  52. Son, Lois Lowry
  53. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen
  54. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen
  55. Mansfield Park, Jane Austen
  56. Emma, Jane Austen
  57. Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen
  58. Persuasion, Jane Austen
  59. The List, Patricia Forde
  60. Hello Me, It’s You, Anonymous; edited by Hannah Todd
  61. Use The Force: A Jedi’s Guide to the Law of Attraction, Joshua P. Warren
  62. Digital Fortress: A Thriller, Dan Brown
  63. Deception Point, Dan Brown
  64. Inferno, Dan Brown
  65. Origin: A Novel, Dan Brown
  66. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
  67. Camino Island, John Grisham
  68. The Rooster Bar, John Grisham
  69. Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self, Manoush Zomorodi
  70. Lost Laysen, Margaret Mitchell
  71. Before Scarlett: Girlhood Writings of Margaret Mitchell, Margaret Mitchell; edited by Jane Eskridge
  72. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane
  73. Shutter Island, Dennis Lehane
  74. Uglies, Scott Westerfeld
  75. Pretties, Scott Westerfeld
  76. Specials, Scott Westerfeld
  77. Extras, Scott Westerfeld
  78. Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery, Robert Kolker
  79. Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and For Those Who Want to Write Them (P.S.), Francine Prose
  80. Reading Like a Lawyer: Time-Saving Strategies for Reading Law Like an Expert, Ruth Ann McKinney
  81. Into the Water, Paula Hawkins
  82. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien
  83. In the Lake of the Woods, Tim O’Brien
  84. July, July, Tim O’Brien
  85. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, Jenny Han
  86. P.S. I Still Love You, Jenny Han
  87. Always and Forever, Lara Jean, Jenny Han
  88. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
  89. Dark Places, Gillian Flynn
  90. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
  91. Ready Player One, Ernest Cline
  92. The Glass Castle, Jeanette Walls
  93. Half Broke Horses, Jeanette Walls
  94. The Silver Star, Jeanette Walls
  95. Because You Exist (Light in the Dark Series) (Volume 1), Tiffany Truitt
  96. Among The Hidden (Shadow Children #1), Margaret Peterson Haddix
  97. The Goldfish Boy, Lisa Thompson
  98. Postcards from the Edge, Carrie Fisher
  99. Shockaholic, Carrie Fisher
  100. Wishful Drinking, Carrie Fisher
  101. The Princess Diarist, Carrie Fisher
  102. Trell, Dick Lehr
  103. In A Dark, Dark Wood, Ruth Ware
  104. The Woman in Cabin 10, Ruth Ware
  105. We Can Be Mended, Veronica Roth
  106. Carve The Mark, Veronica Roth
  107. Sing, Vivi Greene
  108. West End Quartet, Ariadne Apostolou
  109. Defining Sexism in the U.S. (Sexism in the United States) (Volume 1), Elizabeth Hall Magill
  110. Sexism and U.S. History (Sexism in the United States) (Volume 2), Elizabeth Hall Magill
  111. What Yo Mama Said, Elizabeth Hall Magill
  112. Behind Rebel Lines: The Incredible Story of Emma Edmonds, Civil War Spy, Seymour Reit
  113. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, David Foster Wallace
  114. Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
  115. The Upside of Unrequited, Becky Albertalli
  116. Words in Deep Blue, Cath Crowley
  117. Turtles All the Way Down, John Green
  118. Lea Dives In, Lisa Yee
  119. Lea Leads the Way, Lisa Yee
  120. Lea and Camila, Lisa Yee & Kellen Hertz
  121. Mary Jane’s Ghost: The Legacy of a Murder in Small Town America, Ted Gregory
  122. The Dark Lake, Sarah Bailey

That’s all, for now!

I’ll publish my next TBR update / recap in January!

What have you read recently?

Happy reading!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #78: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 40)

Week #40: Greatest Accomplishment.

I took a risk in eighth grade. There was a new program that had just started at one of Chesapeake’s high schools, called International Baccalaureate (IB). The program coordinator, Mrs. Ingersoll, and two of the ninth-grade students came to Jolliff Middle to tell us about it, and how to apply.

I remember being so excited  that I couldn’t stop talking about it.

I completed my application, took several tests at Oscar Smith (and left my purse, school ID, and house key there by accident! I got it back, but I had to call the school on my own and explain what happened), and crossed my fingers.

I still remember the day I found out I was accepted. Mrs. Lyons, the guidance counselor, showed up during orchestra class. I nearly screamed in the hallway when she told me the good news. I wanted to call my parents, although they already knew. I felt like I was on cloud nine.

My euphoria was shattered a bit when several of my friends were very upset that I was leaving. I was excited for the challenge – New school, new friends, new ways of learning and thinking – but I was also sad. I leaving everything behind, except for my house and my parents, for something new. I was basically alone on the giant school bus – No one else from the Western Branch area was in the program when I started in 2003.

Despite begging my parents to go back to Western Branch probably every week for the first six months of my freshman year, I persisted. I struggled immensely, especially in the very beginning. At first, I had D’s and E’s on a lot of quizzes, and a even a few tests. I went to so many tutoring sessions, my head spun. My test anxiety was through the roof. I cried quite a bit. Everything was hard!

However, being part of IB was completely worth it. It isn’t for everybody, but it ended up being a really good fit for me. I enjoyed myself – It fostered my life-long love for learning (with the exception of math). Plus, I learned to think critically, and challenge myself to do better and understand the concepts presented before me. There wasn’t a lot of memorizing or teaching to the SOLs, although we still had to take them!

Learning that I would receive my IB Diploma in 2007 was one of the big shining moments in my life. I felt a sense of massive accomplishment – Two years of prep work, and two years of application of the prep work paid off, in spades. Although the IB exams were immensely stressful, I wasn’t alone. There were 40 of my peers taking them with me, and our teachers did their best to prepare us for all of them. We all celebrated at the end of exams with a massive party!

I learned so much about myself during my high school years, and I truly believe IB made me a better person. I started off college in a better place, and I did really well at Longwood due to being in IB. I didn’t have to take as many gen ed classes! I was able to get math and science completely out of the way by the end of my first year, and then I was able to focus on the classes I truly enjoyed – Creative writing, history, and communications.

Back in June, a good number of us got together for a 10-year reunion. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, reminiscing about our experiences from 2003 through 2007, while also catching up on our careers, aspirations, marriages, children, and hobbies. I’m excited to see what happens when we plan our 20-year reunion.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #88: October Goals

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Image Credit: Pinterest

Hooray – October is finally here!

There are so many exciting things happening this month!!

Here are my goals for the month of October:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Celebrate several birthdays!
  3. Celebrate Mary Lauren & Jeremy’s wedding!
  4. Celebrate Nick & Savy’s wedding!!
  5. Write at least 400 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt.
  6. Write at least two blog posts on home improvements.
  7. Make / purchase photo canvases.
  8. Attend Hampton Comicon!
  9. Finally start moving items from my parents’ house to ours.
  10. Keep our kitchen table clean!
  11. Update my TBR.
  12. Be a successful co-hostess for the October PEO meeting.
  13. Write some snail mail!
  14. Celebrate Halloween!
  15. Enjoy Little (Lane) when she visits for a week!
  16. Order the Desert Mist Diffuser, and more Savvy Minerals makeup!

Here’s the breakdown:

Donate blood.

  • Our next blood drive is Saturday, October 7th!

Celebrate several birthdays!

  • My mom’s birthday is this week, as well my good friend Ashley’s.
  • Mia’s birthday is in the middle of October. She’ll become our niece in two weeks!!

Celebrate Mary Lauren & Jeremy’s wedding!

  • Their wedding is October 7th – It’s gonna be a blast!

Celebrate Nick & Savy’s wedding!!

  • October 14th!!
  • I’m so excited for Savy to become my sister-in-law!
  • Mia will be my niece!
  • We get to trek to the farm, eat, drink, bounce in the bounce house, and celebrate!!

Write at least 400 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt.

  • I’m chugging along. It’s felt really good to sit down and pour out my thoughts. I’ll reach 50,000 words yet!

Write at least two blog posts on home improvements.

  • I’m determined! It’s been over a year worth of work!

Make / purchase photo canvases.

  • I’m excited to pick several engagement photos and wedding photos with Al, and then hang them up!

Attend Hampton Comicon! 

  • We’ll head to Hampton for the day on Saturday, October 21st.

Finally start moving items from my parents’ house to ours.

  • The weather’s finally cool enough, and I’m beyond ready to make my office what it’s supposed to be! My dolls deserve to be in one place!

Keep our kitchen table clean!

  • Our kitchen table has been a perpetual mess for a long time. I’m determined to clean it up, and keep it clean!

Update my TBR.

  • It’s that time again! My final TBR update of 2017 is coming soon!

Be a successful co-hostess for the October PEO meeting.

  • I’m excited to co-hostess the meeting next week at Susan’s house. I’ve already bought Reese’s pieces cookie dough, and I’ll buy some veggies, crackers, and pretzels at the end of this week.

Write some snail mail!

  • I’m long overdue to write letters to several special people in my life.

Celebrate Halloween!

  • Al’s co-worker, Kathryn, and husband Tim, open their house every year for a Halloween bash! This year, the theme is Stranger Things. So exciting!
  • We’re excited to hand out candy to our neighborhood again – The kids’ costumes are awesome!

Enjoy Little (Lane) when she visits for a week!

  • My Little is coming home to visit toward the end of the month. I can’t wait!
  • We’re participating in a fun wood door hanger paint class!
  • She gets to see our house for the first time!

Order the Desert Mist Diffuser, and more Savvy Minerals makeup!

  • I updated my monthly order late last week, and it usually processes around the middle of the month. The plan is to put the Desert Mist Diffuser in the living room, and move the Dewdrop Diffuser to my office!
  • I’m starting to experiment with the Savvy Minerals eyeshadow, but I’m excited to get my hands on the eyeliner, blush, and misting spray!

Do you have any goals for the month of October?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #87: September Goals Recap


Image Credit: Kara Cozier

September was a mix of busy and relaxed! It’s finally starting to feel like fall!!

Here’s the link to my September Goals post:


Here we go!

  1. Celebrate seven years together with Al! — Accomplished!
  2. Enjoy Savy’s bachelorette weekend! — Accomplished!
  3. Make / purchase several photo canvases. — Did not accomplish.
  4. Make a series of home improvement blog posts. — Semi-Achieved.
  5. Write at least 300 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt. — Accomplished!
  6. Move my bookcase from my parents’ house to ours. — Did not accomplish.
  7. Inventory my entire personal library. — Did not accomplish.
  8. Make and start using homemade deodorant. — Accomplished!
  9. Start using my Savvy Minerals makeup. — Accomplished!

Here’s the breakdown:

Celebrate seven years together with Al! — Accomplished!

Enjoy Savy’s bachelorette weekend! — Accomplished!

Make / purchase several photo canvases. — Did not accomplish.

  • I spent way too much money on other things this month.

Make a series of home improvement blog posts. — Semi-Achieved.

Write at least 300 new words for my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt. — Accomplished!

  • With the journal I wrote about in my recent Writing Prompt post, it was an excellent motivator!
  • I wrote approximately 554 words!
  • Current word count: 11,216 words.

Move my bookcase from my parents’ house to ours. — Did not accomplish.

  • Argh. A few missed opportunities to make this happen. Soon!

Inventory my entire personal library. — Did not accomplish.

  • This goes hand-in-hand with my bookcase. Soon!

Make and start using homemade deodorant. — Accomplished!

Start using my Savvy Minerals makeup. — Accomplished!

  • See the Getting Personal post, above, for more information!

Final Thoughts:

  • I was able to put Accomplished next to five out of nine goals! Woohoo!
  • The one goal that was Semi-Achieved: I’m happy with this one. More to come!
  • The three goals that I did not accomplish: Like last month, most of these involve time. I’ll keep chipping away at them until they happen!

What about you? Did you have any goals for the month of September?

Come back tomorrow to see my October Goals!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #77: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 39)

Week #39: Your Heritage.

This post took some thought, and some research. On the outside, I’m an ordinary white woman.

But, my history / ancestry lays throughout Europe. My maiden name, Stricker, is descended from the German language. I’m fairly certain my dad’s family came from Europe. Grandpa Stricker was in the Navy for several years, and my dad was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Shortly thereafter, his family – Grandpa, Grandma, Auntie Marn, Aunt Nancy, and Dad – moved to St. Petersburg, Florida.

My mom’s paternal grandparents emigrated from the Ukraine, and my grandfather was raised Jewish in New York City. After starting college in Ohio and meeting my Grandma Grace, Grandpa Madan was in the Army during World War II. After the war ended, he got out of the Army, and they also settled in Florida, near Miami. My grandpa’s sister, Aunt Marilyn, lives in Boca Raton. Her daughter, Sherri, lives in Manhattan.

Besides the evident European ancestry, religion is a big part of my family history. My Grandpa Madan was raised Jewish. My mom was raised in the United Church of Christ. My Uncle Richard considered going into seminary. My dad’s family includes Methodists and Lutherans. I was raised in the United Methodist Church. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to attend services among several denominations – Lutheran, Catholic, Baptist, Russian Orthodox, Congregational, Presbyterian, and United Methodist, to name a few.

Writing this post has inspired me to learn even more about my family, their experiences, and their history. I want to learn as much as I can, and document everything along the way.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #76: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 38)

Week #38: Music You Love.

In addition to the songs I mentioned in my recent Getting Personal post, here’s a few more insights into my musical tastes.

Contemporary Christian Music

Country Music


  • I loved Glee from Day 1!
  • I have almost every CD that’s been released.
  • If I need a pick-me-up, one of these CDs usually does the trick.
  • There are waaaaay too many songs that I love from this show to list! I should make a separate post.


  • A Chorus Line (1985)
  • Back to the Future (1985)
  • Batman (1989)
  • Chicago (2002)
  • Dirty Dancing (1987)
  • Enchanted (2007)
  • Flashdance (1983)
  • Footloose (1984)
  • Footloose (2011)
  • Forrest Gump (1994)
  • Ghost (1990)
  • Grease (1978)
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1 & 2 (2014, 2017)
  • Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
  • Interstellar (2014)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Mamma Mia! (2008)
  • Night at the Museum (2006)
  • Purple Rain (1984)
  • Saturday Night Fever (1977)
  • Shaft (1971)
  • Space Jam (1996)
  • The Bodyguard (1992)
  • The Guardian (2006)
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
  • Top Gun (1986)
  • Tron: Legacy (2010)
  • Wicked (2003)

Here are links to other blog posts I’ve written about music:

What about you? What are your tastes in music?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂