Getting Personal #48: November Goals Recap


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Hello, readers!

November whizzed by so fast, I could barely keep up!

Here’s the link to my November Goals post:


Here we go!

  1. Complete NaNoWriMo 2016! – Did not accomplish.
  2. Wear makeup every single day. – Accomplished!
  3. Make more progress with my 2016 Reading Challenge. – Accomplished!
  4. Enjoy our first wedding anniversary! – Accomplished!
  5. Make chocolate mousse pie for Thanksgiving. – Accomplished!
  6. Make final preps for our housewarming party! – Did not accomplish.
  7. Start the “Lady Lounge” makeover! – Semi-achieved.

Here’s the breakdown:

Complete NaNoWriMo 2016! – Did not accomplish.

  • I felt super confident on October 31st, but then I looked at the calendar for November. There was so many things filling these 30 days – Vacation, Thanksgiving, Al’s parents coming to visit, plus trying to finish my class projects way before November 29th. I didn’t even sign up / register this year.
  • I’m slightly disappointed, but I know that it wasn’t meant to be this year. Hopefully, by next November, I’ll have graduated with my Paralegal Studies degree and I won’t have to worry about projects, homework, and exams!

Wear makeup every single day. – Accomplished!

  • I felt amazing taking just a few minutes out of my morning to put some makeup on. I received multiple compliments, and I plan to keep going!
  • I definitely want to experiment a bit more in the coming months – Play with colors, etc. I’m having fun!

Make more progress with my 2016 Reading Challenge. – Accomplished!

  • I made my first trip to the local library at the beginning of the month, and picked up two books on the list. I almost got through one of them by the time they were due two weeks later. I want to go back this weekend and check that one out again to finish it!
  • I’m currently one-third of the way through another piece on the list. Look for that review in the next week or two!

Enjoy our first wedding anniversary! – Accomplished!

  • We enjoyed a wonderful six-day vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We explored Avon, Buxton, Hatteras Island, and Ocracoke Island. I’m hoping to publish my Adventure Time post next week!

Make chocolate mousse pie for Thanksgiving. – Accomplished!

  • It’s actually called chocolate mousse cake.
  • Here’s the recipe I used: Bon Appetit Chocolate Mousse Cake
  • I was a little nervous, cooking it for the first time in my own kitchen. I think I spent about 3 hours on it that Wednesday night.
  • I shouldn’t have worried: It was AMAZING. Everyone complimented it at my parents’ house.
  • Needless to say, the leftovers didn’t last past Friday lunch!

Make final preps for our housewarming party! – Did not accomplish.

  • Given that tomorrow is December 1st, it looks like plans for a housewarming party aren’t in the cards for 2016. We want to clear more of the clutter and put a few more finishing touches on our living room and kitchen area first.

Start the “Lady Lounge” makeover! – Semi-achieved.

  • This is along the same lines as the housewarming party. I need to make a plan for what I’m buying and when – Buying a desk, moving the massive bookcase from my parents’ house to ours, researching shelves, etc.
  • It’s becoming more organized. I’m definitely going to use the break in between my classes to keep this going!

Final Thoughts

  • I was able to put Accomplished on 4 of the 7 goals! Yay!
  • The one goal that was Semi-Achieved: I wasn’t able to spend as much time on it as I wanted, but I’m getting there.
  • The two goals that I didn’t accomplish: Both were due to time constraints. This month was one of the fastest yet. I’m excited to make more progress!

Did you have any goals for November?

Come back tomorrow to see my December goals!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Hot Topic #17: The Affordable Care Act

There’s been a lot of chatter online recently regarding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

I started writing this post about two weeks before Election Day. It’s only been 17 days since that day, but the whole world has now changed.

Like many people, I was stunned at the outcome. I know that the ACA is now under a stronger microscope now, more than ever.

Full disclosure: I work for a health system in Virginia. For the last four years, I have been immersed in the world of healthcare and the insurance companies. My department helps negotiate the contracts between the health insurance companies, and our health system.

As with all of my blog posts that involve research and sources, I try my best to be well-read and as well-informed as possible.

The official name for the ACA is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). It was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010.

There were three main goals with enacting the PPACA:

  1. Increase health insurance quality and affordability
  2. Lower the uninsured rate by expanding insurance coverage
  3. Reduce the costs of healthcare

The law requires health insurance companies to accept all applicants, cover a specific list of conditions, and charge the same rates regardless of pre-existing conditions or sex.

On a positive note, the law has appeared to help reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the percentage of people without health insurance was 16.0 percent in 2010.

Between the period of January-June 2016, the percentage of people without health insurance was down to 8.9 percent.

That breaks down to a 7.1 percent reduction. Dividing that by six years, it’s been roughly a 1.18 percent reduction since the law was enacted.

In March 2016, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that 23 million people now have insurance due to the law.

Those 23 million people break down as follows:

  • 12 million people covered by the exchanges (10 million of those received subsidies to help pay for their insurance).
  • 11 million made eligible for Medicaid.

I’m going to stop for a second and try to answer some questions that may have arisen with what you just read.

What are the exchanges?

  • They are regulated marketplaces, mostly online, where individuals and small businesses can purchase private insurance plans.
  • They are in all 50 states.
  • They are administered by either the federal or state government.

What are subsidies?

  • Subsidies are money, in the form of a refundable tax credit, made available to certain households. The U.S. has a federal poverty level (FPL), and households that have incomes that equal a certain percentage of the FPL can get help to purchase insurance on the exchanges.
  • For example, in 2014, the FPL was $11,800 for a single person, and $24,000 for a family of four people. Households with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the FPL were eligible.
  • $24,000 x 133 percent (1.33) = $31,920 per year income. The maximum insurance premium that family would pay was $992 for that year. The family could also be eligible for a little over $5,000 in subsidies.

What is Medicaid?

  • Medicaid is a government program that helps provide health insurance for people with low income, such as adults, children, and people with certain disabilities.
  • One caveat of the PPACA is that Medicaid expansion was left up to the individual states. Virginia, for example, is one of the states that chose to not expand Medicaid.

It’s tough to wade through all of this information. I can see why there have been numerous challenges and criticisms of the ACA. It’s been six years since it’s been enacted. Even though I work for a health system and I work with the health insurance companies on an almost-daily basis, it’s difficult for me to try to explain all of this.

I feel extremely fortunate that my employer offers health insurance that covers almost all of my needs. The premium is taken directly out of my paycheck, and my out-of-pocket costs are relatively low. There are certain things, such as my chiropractor visits and dermatology procedures, that are not always covered, but I’m fortunate to have a good job that allows me to pay those bills. I feel at peace, knowing that if I had to go the emergency room or be admitted to the hospital any time soon, that my insurance would be able to cover me.

Because of my job, I’ve tried really hard to immerse myself in learning about the ACA and how it works, or how it’s supposed to work. By educating myself, I’m able to think and speak more intelligently about it, and try to think ahead. The world of healthcare is constantly changing, nearly every day.

I’ll leave you with a list of resources that I used while constructing this post. I hope this post was educational, informative, and helpful.

I certainly don’t know everything, but I definitely like to learn.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #47: Giving Thanks


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Since today is Thanksgiving Eve, I wanted to take a few minutes to write about giving thanks and reflecting on so many blessings that I have.

I’ve been pretty busy these last few weeks, which is why you haven’t seen many posts from me recently. Since last year, November has become a whirlwind month. We just celebrated a year of marriage. We went on a super relaxing vacation. Since we got home, we’ve dived back into reality – Home improvement projects, making sure parts of our house don’t flood, getting excited for the holidays.

I’m in the home stretch with my Trial Prep class. I’ve been trying to finish my two big projects that make up 45 percent of my grade – They’re due next week. After that, all that’s left is my final exam.

I’m blessed to be a part of several wonderful families – By blood, by marriage, by church. I’m looking forward to creating our family-favorite, absolutely delicious Chocolate Mousse Cake tonight, to share with Al, my parents, family friends, and church family tomorrow afternoon.

Reflecting on 2016, overall, it’s been a pretty good year.

No doubt, I’ve dealt with challenges, nightmares, anxiety attacks, friendship difficulties, and information overload.

There are still people in shock over the election results. There are families dealing with insurmountable tragedies – House fires, hospitalizations, difficult pregnancies, refugees trying to migrate, the horror of war, losing children / family members in school bus crashes. It happens every single day.

But, I thank God for a wonderful marriage, loving families, amazing health, stable jobs, a beautiful house, food in the fridge, and the ability to help others.

As we enter the 2016 holiday season, I’m motivated to help others as much as possible. It’s about giving, not receiving. I hope to give a pint of blood in two weeks. I hope to help at least one child have an amazing Christmas morning. I hope to spend quality time with my family and friends.

I’m very blessed. Writing everything down here, in this amazing space and platform, has only increased my gratitude.

I’m also incredibly grateful for you, my readers. Thank you so much for helping this little blog blossom into something amazing, especially this past year. All of you are amazing!

Readers, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #46: First Wedding Anniversary


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Today marks our first wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it!

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Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

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Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

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Image Credit: Stellar Exposures


One of our many honeymoon photos. We were waiting for Blue Man Group to start!




December 2015: Lunch before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens!


June 2016: We bought a house!

Thank you, Al, for an amazing year! Here’s to many, many more!

I love you.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Blog Awards #8: The Sunshine Blogger Award!


Image Credit: Unknown, but copied from Forest City Bookworm.

I was nominated by the lovely and talented Michelle from Forest City Bookworm! She has an amazing blog that I’ve fallen in love with, so please, take a few minutes to check it out.

Here’s the link to the original post, where I was nominated:

The Rules:

  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.

The Questions:

1. What’s the story behind your blog’s name?

I came up with Hot Shot Headlines because I studied mass media / journalism in college, and I wanted to have a news / media angle to my blog. Also, “Hot Shot” is the nickname that my dad gave to me years ago, so every time I come to the blog to write, I smile because I think of him.

2. Do you prefer e-books or physical books?

Physical books, all the way! I see the practicality of e-books, and I’ve used Kindle a handful of times for school, but I will always have paperbacks and hardbacks for my library.

3. What’s your ideal pizza?

I love a good supreme pizza. I love the mix of pepperoni and veggies!

4. What’s your favorite childhood book?

Where The Wild Things Are.

5. What cheers you up?

Reading, writing, watching movies, and spending time with Al and my family.

6. Are you an introvert or and extrovert?

I’m definitely an extrovert. I love talking to people!

7. What’s the last book you read that you simply could not put down until you finished?

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. So good!

8. If your life was a movie, which actor/actress would play you?

I always have trouble with this question! Hmmm … I love Emma Watson. She’d be a good pick!

9. Which is the longest book/anime/TV series you’ve read/watched and how long is it?

So far, it’s Harry Potter. Seven books, eight if you count Cursed Child.

10. If you could eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Pasta with garlic bread and a good salad.

11. What’s your favorite book genre?

Historical fiction.

My Questions:

  1. When did you start blogging?
  2. What’s your favorite movie?
  3. What makes you smile?
  4. What’s your guilty pleasure food?
  5. Where have you lived the longest?
  6. Who is your favorite actor or actress?
  7. What’s your dream job?
  8. What’s one TV show that you will never stop enjoying?
  9. What’s your favorite color?
  10. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you go, and why?
  11. What’s your favorite cartoon?

The Nominations:

  1. Sometimes Stellar Storyteller
  2. A Writer’s Path
  3. The Musings of a Writer
  4. icebreaker694
  5. Elan Mudrow
  6. By Hook Or By Book
  7. Thrice Read
  8. David Snape and Friends
  9. Be Like Water
  10. Reads & Reels
  11. Tangible Triumph

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #45: November Goals


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Here are my goals for the month of November!

  1. Complete NaNoWriMo 2016!
  2. Wear makeup every single day.
  3. Make more progress with my 2016 Reading Challenge.
  4. Enjoy our first wedding anniversary!
  5. Make chocolate mousse pie for Thanksgiving.
  6. Make final preps for our housewarming party!
  7. Start the “Lady Lounge” makeover!

Here’s the breakdown:

Complete NaNoWriMo 2016!

  • NaNoWriMo = National Novel Writing Month.
  • I did it in 2012, 2013, and 2014. I took 2015 off, and I found that I missed it! I’m excited that 2016 will be Year #4!
  • My overall goal is surpassing 16,000 words. That was my total for my 2014 novel!

Wear makeup every single day

  • I’ve wanted to wear makeup more often, so I want to make more of an effort for this month.

Make more progress with my 2016 Reading Challenge.

  • I’m not setting a specific goal this month (i.e., “read two books,” etc.)
  • I just want to review the list and try to make headway before December!
  • I plan to go to the local library next weekend and get started!

Enjoy our first wedding anniversary!

  • I’m blown away – I can’t believe we’re 13 days away from celebrating one year of marriage!

Make chocolate mousse pie for Thanksgiving.

  • My parents are hosting us for Thanksgiving, so I’m excited to make the famous chocolate mousse pie again!
  • I’m excited to make it in my kitchen for the first time.

Make final preps for our housewarming party!

  • We’d like to have a housewarming bash before the end of the year.
  • We have a good-sized list to accomplish, but I’m excited to check everything off!

Start the “Lady Lounge” makeover!

  • Al has dubbed my office space the “Lady Lounge,” and I love it!
  • I’m hoping to move over the huge bookcase from my parents’ house, most of my books, and finalize plans for a desk and a plan for my American Girl dolls.

That’s all I have for November!

You guys are awesome – Your likes and comments mean the world to me!

Do you have any goals for this month?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂