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 🙂


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 🙂

Tag #31: The Stationery Book Tag


Image Credit: THE JOUSKA

Recently, Jenna at Bookmark Your Thoughts  did this amazing tag!

Here’s the link to the original post:

The Rules:

  1. Thank the creator: Sam @ River Moose Books
  2. Answer the questions.
  3. Add pictures, if you’d like.
  4. Tag about five people.

Pencils – Favorite middle grade or children’s book.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

The Polar Express, Chris Van Allsburg.

I literally grew up with this book. My mom read it to all her classes when she taught first and second grade in North Carolina – This was years before I was born. We still have the set with the hardback book, the audio cassette, and the bell. When the movie came out, we went to see it as a family, and the DVD came to our house that Christmas. It’s one of our traditions, and I’m excited to continue it when Al and I have kids.

Pens – A basic staple for any reader.

Bridge to Terabithia

Image Credit: Goodreads

Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson.

I vaguely remember reading this book in elementary school. Then, I re-read it several times between high school and college. It had a profound effect on me, and it’s now one of my favorite books.

Notebooks – What books do you own multiple copies?

The only thing I can think of is my two copies of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, J.K. Rowling.

I was lucky enough to be in London on July 16, 2005, when the book was released. So, naturally, we trekked to Waterstones and waited until midnight! I have a paperback copy of the U.S. edition, and a beautiful hardback copy of the U.K. edition.

Markers – A book with a beautiful cover.


Caraval, Stephanie Garber.

I need to read this book! The cover is absolutely gorgeous!

Glue – Two characters that work well together, even if they aren’t together.

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Image Credit: Pinterest

Argh. This is the hardest question!

My immediate thought was Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wanted them to be together?

Scissors – What book would like to destroy?

The Scarlet Letter - B&N

Image Credit: Barnes & Noble

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Art Kit – What complete series do you own?


Hunger Games


Image Credit: The Book Wars

  1. Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling.
  2. The Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins.
  3. The Divergent trilogy, Veronica Roth.

Bonus Question – Show us your desk / stationery that you own for each question.

I love gel pens – They’re so much better than ball-point pens! Since I’m left-handed, most traditional pens leave my hand incredibly dark, black and blue, and smudged!

Tagging Time!

I’m not tagging anyone in particular, but if you love books, you should definitely do this one!

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 🙂

Getting Personal #84: Favorite Songs & Artists, 1950s-Present Day

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Image Credit: Pinterest

I was recently inspired to write this post, thanks to my friend Drew. He posted a Facebook status about his dislike for a particular song that’s been popular for several decades, and that sparked a conversation about the 1980s, and our favorite songs from that decade.

In addition, I saw this video from MetroLyrics on Facebook, and I loved how the creator(s) showcase(s) so many songs!

Now, I want to go decade by decade, and list a handful of my favorite songs and artists from each one!

Come along and enjoy!


“Rock Around The Clock” (Bill Haley & His Comets, 1952)

  • Automatic favorite!

“Sh-Boom” (The Chords, 1954)

  • My parents had a generic “Best of the 1950s” CD that I frequently borrowed after I received my first portable CD player – This was one of the songs listed!

“Earth Angel” (The Penguins, 1954)

  • I think this song was also on that CD!

“Heartbreak Hotel” (Elvis Presley, 1956)

  • It was hard to not list a ton of Elvis songs!

“Bye Bye Love” (The Everly Brothers, 1957)

  • This was another song that I grew up listening to!

“At the Hop” (Danny & The Juniors, 1958)

  • This song makes me think of sock hops, dancing, and excellent music!

“Beyond The Sea” (Bobby Darin, 1959)

  • This song has been in so many movies!
  • It reminds me of fancy clubs and restaurants – The old days.


“Unchained Melody” (The Righteous Brothers, 1965)

  • My parents played this on our stereo at home a lot. I remember my mom singing along.
  • Plus, Ghost (1990) is one of my favorite movies!

“Good Vibrations” (The Beach Boys, 1966)

  • The Beach Boys is one of my parents’ favorite bands!
  • If you haven’t seen Love & Mercy (2014), I highly recommend it – It’s an excellent movie. I gained a greater appreciation for Brian Wilson, and the band.

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, 1967)

  • I grew up hearing this song, but I remember it most from Remember The Titans (2000).

“What A Wonderful World” (Louis Armstrong, 1967)

  • This song immediately lifts my spirits!

“Carolina In My Mind” (James Taylor, 1968)

  • My parents are also big James Taylor fans – They’ve seen him live several times.
  • However, this song is special – My dad played this song when he proposed to my mom. Then, in 2015, we surprised Mom by dancing to this song during our father-daughter dance at my wedding.


“Fire And Rain” (James Taylor, 1970)

  • I think this was the first James Taylor song I remember hearing!

“Baba O’Riley” (The Who, 1971)

  • I’ve always loved this song – The synthesizer always gives me goosebumps.
  • It’s also the theme song to CSI: NY, one of my favorite shows.

“Saturday in the Park” (Chicago, 1972)

  • This song always makes me dance and sing along.
  • I also had the opportunity to see Chicago live, in Portsmouth, in the early 2000s – I think I was either 13 or 14. I went with my parents, and their friends Phil and Diane. What an awesome memory!

“Hooked on a Feeling” (Blue Swede cover, 1974)

  • I heard this song here and there growing up, but absolutely fell in love with it when it was featured in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).
  • Al and I entered our wedding reception to this!

“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” (Elton John, 1974)

  • I started listening to Elton John more in high school, while driving the 15 miles back and forth to school.

“Isn’t She Lovely” (Stevie Wonder, 1976)

  • My mom has loved Stevie Wonder for years. I think this one is my favorite.

“Don’t Stop” (Fleetwood Mac, 1977)

  • Fleetwood Mac was another favorite in my parents’ house. This one tops my list.
  • I also love the cover that the cast of Glee did in 2010.

“Old Time Rock n Roll” (Bob Seger, 1978)

  • I heard this song a lot growing up, but associate it now with Tom Cruise in Risky Business (1983).


“Come On Eileen” (Dexys Midnight Runners, 1982)

  • This song is awesome! It automatically makes me dance and sing!

“Eye of the Tiger” (Survivor, 1982)

  • This was the theme song of my high school football team. Go Tigers!

“Uptown Girl” (Billy Joel, 1983)

  • I remember borrowing Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Vols. 1 & 2 on CD from the local library, and then putting all of them on my iPod.
  • We’re hoping to see him live at Madison Square Garden next summer!

“Footloose” (Kenny Loggins, 1984)

  • Although I grew up listening (and dancing) to this song, I actually never saw the original movie until 2010!
  • I also enjoyed the movie re-boot – Footloose (2011) – Al was such a good sport and offered to take me to see it!

“Ghostbusters” (Ray Parker, Jr., 1984)

  • Automatic favorite. I also associate this song with Halloween. I love the Ghostbusters costume I bought several years ago!
  • Although I didn’t see the full movie until 2010, I’ve visited the firehouse in New York several times!

“You’re The Inspiration” (Chicago, 1984)

  • This was one of the first songs I loaded on my first iPod!

“The Power of Love” (Huey Lewis and the News, 1985)

  • Back to the Future (1985). Need I say more?

“(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” (Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes, 1987)

  • Dirty Dancing (1987).
  • I’ve been to Mountain Lake three times, where they filmed part of the movie!

“Smooth Criminal” (Michael Jackson, 1987)

  • It was SO HARD to not pick a ton of Michael Jackson’s songs. I love this one.
  • This is another one that Glee covered that I adore!

“I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” (Whitney Houston, 1987)

  • Same story with Whitney – So hard to not pick multiple songs.
  • Like the title, it makes me want to dance the whole time!

“Never Gonna Give You Up” (Rick Astley, 1987)

  • Yes, it’s cheesy and campy, but I will never stop loving it.


“Baby Got Back” (Sir Mix A Lot, 1992)

  • Whenever I hear this song, I’m immediately transported back to elementary school, and the Plaza Skating Center in Portsmouth. So many skating parties!

“All I Want For Christmas Is You” (Mariah Carey, 1994)

  • Yes, it’s cheesy, but this is one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. The local radio stations start way too early, but hearing this song always gets me in the mood for the holidays, and Christmas spirit.

“Wannabe” (Spice Girls, 1996)

  • I was introduced to the Spice Girls by my friends Karen and Michaela Leigh, who are sisters. We played this song a ton at their house in Norfolk. Karen also had the dolls!

“Man! I Feel Like a Woman!” (Shania Twain, 1997)

  • I don’t remember the first time I heard this song, but I instantly liked it! The music video is totally awesome, too.

“Tearin’ Up My Heart” (*NSYNC, 1997)

  • I think I fell in love with *NSYNC with this song. I’m definitely a ’90s child!

“…Baby One More Time” (Britney Spears, 1999)

  • I remember outright begging my parents for this CD. I was so excited when I got it, I nearly cried!

“Larger than Life” (Backstreet Boys, 1999)

  • I definitely sang into my hairbrush, in front of my mirrored closet doors, to this song. Over and over and over!
  • I shameless danced when this song came on the radio in the car a few months ago. Al was driving, and he saw me freak out a little.


“Stronger” (Britney Spears, 2000)

  • I loved this song early on, but it took on a new meaning for me in college.

“Bye Bye Bye” (*NSYNC, 2000)

  • This song was on repeat for a while! I remember trying to learn the dance moves!

“Come Away with Me” (Norah Jones, 2002)

  • I associate coffee shops and dark jazz clubs with this song. It’s one of those that relaxes me and makes me feel good.

“Invisible” (Clay Aiken, 2003)

  • When Clay Aiken was runner-up on the second season of American Idol, I knew I wanted any and every CD that he released.
  • I remember many trips to Florida where this song, and the rest of Measure of a Man, was on repeat on my blue portable CD player.

“The Way” (Clay Aiken, 2003)

  • The first time I heard this song, I nearly cried. It’s so sweet and sentimental.
  • I remember watching the music video over and over on YouTube. And, occasionally, I play it again.

“Dancing Through Life” (Wicked soundtrack, 2003)

  • I love almost all of the songs on the Wicked soundtrack, but this one is my favorite. When I had the opportunity to see the show in Norfolk in 2009, I bought a red tank top with this printed on it, and I loved it. I’m sad that I grew out of it!

“Walk Away” (Kelly Clarkson, 2004)

  • I was a late-bloomer with Kelly Clarkson. But, I’ve loved this song from the beginning. It’s edgy, and I almost used the lyrics to tell off my ex-boyfriend when I broke up with him in 2010.

“I Gotta Feeling” (The Black Eyed Peas, 2009)

  • This is a quintessential dance / party song.

2010s (So far)

“Rolling in the Deep” (Adele, 2010)

  • When Al and I saw I Am Number Four (2011) in theaters, I heard this song for the first time. I immediately wanted more! Adele is now one of my all-time favorite artists!

“Mine” (Taylor Swift, 2010)

  • I felt an instant connection with this song. It felt like it was telling the story of Al and I.
  • I got up the courage to sing this song to Al at our rehearsal dinner. I practiced in the car, alone, every chance I got. My bridal party helped me make posters that read “You are the best thing that’s ever been mine,” and they held them up as I sang. My knees were shaking the entire time, and I know Al was embarrassed, but it was completely worth it.

“What Doesn’t Kill You (Stronger)” (Kelly Clarkson, 2011)

  • This was my anthem for a few years!
  • Kelly has such a powerful voice – I love it!

“Domino” (Jessie J, 2011)

  • I always feel sexy when I sing along to this song.

“Call Me Maybe” (Carly Rae Jepsen, 2012)

  • I love Carly Rae. This is one of those songs that instantly makes me dance and sing.
  • Also, I love the video that the cast of The Big Bang Theory did with this song!

“Who I Am with You” (Chris Young, 2013)

  • Like “Mine,” I felt an instant connection to this song. I first heard it on the radio in 2013, as I was driving back to my apartment one night. I pulled over in my neighborhood to listen to it, and immediately re-played it when I got home. It’s been one of my all-time favorite songs since then. We danced to this song for our first dance at our wedding.

“Word Crimes” (“Weird Al” Yankovic, 2014)

  • Al introduced me to “Weird Al” – I love his parodies!
  • This is one of my all-time favorites. If you’re a grammar nerd, like me, I think you’ll appreciate this one.

“Shake It Off” (Taylor Swift, 2014)

  • I love Taylor Swift. This song makes me dance, even if I’m sitting down. It’s so upbeat and catchy!

“Shatter Me” (Lindsey Stirling featuring Lzzy Hale, 2014)

  • I can’t remember when I first fell in love with Lindsey Stirling, but she’s amazing! We had the opportunity to see her live at The NorVA in 2015!

“Lips Are Movin” (Meghan Trainor, 2014)

  • Whenever I need a pick-me-up, I usually search for Meghan Trainor on YouTube – It never fails!
  • I adore her style, and her musical inspirations!

“Heartbeat Song” (Kelly Clarkson, 2015)

  • I cried when I first heard this song, and cried harder when I watched the music video. It’s an amazing song about love!

“One More Light” (Linkin Park, 2017)

  • The recent deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, both from suicide, makes this song even more poignant.

I hope you enjoyed this post! I had a lot of fun researching. I definitely listened to all of them, too!

What about you? What are your favorite artists / musicians? Do you have any favorite songs? I’d love to see your comments.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #75: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 37)

Week #37: Something You Created.

Going away for a long weekend is really discombobulating! I was definitely not prepared for this week’s post – Haha!

This is my “new” novel-writing journal. I’ve been so lucky to have received so many wonderful journals as gifts, and I’m starting to fill them up. However, I’ve had constant thoughts of actually finishing the three novels that I’ve already started, plus having a good idea for a fourth one.

So, a few weeks ago, during a lunchtime trip to Dollar Tree, I decided to do something about it!

I fell in love with the cover the minute I saw it!

I’ve been following several bloggers that use bullet journals, and I’ve always admired how creative they are, and how pretty they look. They’re taking planners and notebooks and turning them into works of art.

That’s part of my goal, as well. I want this notebook to be a source of inspiration, as well as a path to finishing these novels!

I’m really excited to dive in and write freehand, for once. I type so much now, between my work computer and my laptop at home – I think my cursive needs a workout!

What about you? Have you created anything recently?

Have you tried a bullet journal? I would love to hear from you!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂