Getting Personal #57: January Goals Recap

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I can’t believe we’re already a whole month into 2017! So crazy!

Here’s the link to my January Goals post:


Here we go!

  1. Kick off the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge. – Accomplished!
  2. Catalog all receipts and log them in our budget spreadsheet before February 1st. – Semi-achieved. 
  3. Celebrate Al’s birthday! – Accomplished!
  4. Begin my journal adventure. – Did not accomplish.
  5. Start editing my 2012 NaNoWriMo endeavor. – Did not accomplish.
  6. Update my TBR list. – Accomplished!

Here’s the breakdown:

Kick off the 52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge. – Accomplished!

Catalog all receipts and log them in our budget spreadsheet before February 1st. – Semi-achieved.

  • I didn’t do the best job of cataloging everything this month – All the receipts went in one big pile. Not helpful when it’s time to record them!
  • However, I did log all of them in our budget spreadsheet, so I call that part a WIN!

Celebrate Al’s birthday! – Accomplished!

  • The food we had last week was amazing – Smoky Applewood steak, shrimp, Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits, cookie cake, and ice cream! Yummy!
  • I loved Al’s reaction to his birthday card and gifts – I went on an Amazon shopping spree and gave him three different Batman DVDs, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and this Marvel deck-building card game. It felt awesome.

Begin my journal adventure. – Did not accomplish.

  • I had my journal and pen ready, but it didn’t happen this month. Not one single entry.
  • Tonight, I’m carrying both upstairs when I get ready for bed. My thought is, if I try to read every night before going to sleep – I can certainly carve out a few minutes to write in my journal!

Start editing my 2012 NaNoWriMo endeavor. – Did not accomplish.

  • Argh. This was frustrating. I felt motivated to start this project at the beginning of the month, but working full-time, behind a computer, is exhausting. Most nights, after work, I didn’t want to look at another screen.
  • However, I felt inspired this past weekend, talking to fellow authors and aspiring ones at an event. All of them said the same thing – JUST DO IT!

Update my TBR list. – Accomplished!

Final Thoughts

  • I was able to put Accomplished next to 3 out of 6 goals. Hooray!!
  • The one goal that was Semi-Achieved: I know what I need to do from here on out to accomplish that goal!
  • The two goals that I didn’t accomplish: Honestly, I completely dropped the ball on these. I felt motivated to do both during the month, but I just didn’t make time for them. Here’s to February!

Did you have any goals for January?

Come back tomorrow to see my goals for February!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #56: Happy 35th Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

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Mom and Dad!

I wanted to take a few minutes today to wish my Mom and Dad a very happy 35th wedding anniversary!

They were married on this date in 1982, in Florida. The last time I checked, the building was still standing, but it was no longer pink!

They celebrated this past weekend with a mini-getaway, and Mom surprised Dad with flowers on the altar at church yesterday. The arrangement had daisies in it, and that’s what Mom had in her original bouquet.

I hope you two had a great day today!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Awesome Authors #1: F. Scott Fitzgerald


Image Credit: Inspiration

Recently, I was feeling inspired by several posts from the awesome Logical Quotes. I decided that I wanted to turn some of them into a new series!

Here’s the original post that started it all:

Welcome to my “Awesome Authors” debut. I plan to publish a new post about a different author every few weeks.


I first learned about F. Scott Fitzgerald in high school. We had to read The Great Gatsby (1925) for one of my English classes. I quickly fell head over heels for the book, and the man who wrote it. This is one book that I re-read, at least once, every single year.

Gatsby - biography

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After reading this thought-provoking novel, I ended up doing a significant research paper / project on Fitzgerald and his other works.

He published four novels before his death in 1940, including The Great Gatsby, and one was released posthumously.

This Side of Paradise (1920)


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The Beautiful and the Damned (1922)


Image Credit: The Artifice

Tender is the Night (1934)


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The Last Tycoon (1941)


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Fitzgerald was also known for his novellas and collections of short stories.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (1922)

  • First published in Colliers Magazine
  • Later anthologized in Tales of the Jazz Age
  • Occasionally published as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Other Jazz Age Stories

Tales of the Jazz Age (1922)


Image Credit: The Culture Trip

While researching for this post, I was excited to learn that a new short story collection is being published in April!

  • I’d Die For You. And Other Lost Stories, edited by: Anne Margaret Daniel (New York: Simon & Schuster, April 2017)

Working on this new series of posts has made me want to add Fitzgerald’s books and stories to my next TBR update. Other than Gatsby, the last time I read his other works was around 2006-2007, and I want to read them from an adult’s perspective, rather than a senior in high school for a class assignment.

Look for the next installment of Awesome Authors some time in February!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Tag #16: The Birthstones Book Tag


Image Credit: Power of Positivity

The lovely ladies of Thrice Read did another awesome book tag!

Here’s the link to their post:

They found it on Spines & Covers, another blog I love!

January (Garnet): Associate with warding off negative forces and dark energies – Name a book with the darkest/evilest character you can think of.

So far, I think Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks had one of the most evil characters – Kevin. Erin worked so hard to escape from him. Kevin reminded me so much of my abusive ex-boyfriend – It nearly made me sick.

February (Amethyst): Purple is associated with royalty – Name a book with regal qualities … You can base this off of characters, or choose the king of all books.

I loved The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot!

March (Aquamarine): Washed out – Name a ‘wishy washy’ character, a character who is not strong or a follower.

Darienne from Flight #116 Is Down! by Caroline B. Cooney – She made me so mad!

April (Diamond): A diamond in the rough – Name a book that you loved but is not well known.

Chosen Ones (Lost Souls) by Tiffany Truitt. Tiffany is one of my sorority sisters, and I’ve loved every book she’s published!

May (Emerald): Said to balance energy – Name two characters who balance each other well.

This one was hard! But, my first instinct was Katniss Everdeen and Gale Hawthorne from The Hunger Games trilogy, by Suzanne Collins.

June (Pearl): Associated with loyalty – Name a character who is loyal to the end.

Silas Marner from Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe by George Eliot.

July (Ruby): Blood red – Name a book that made your blood boil, one that made you angry.

This one was also hard – Several books have made me angry! But, the first one I thought of that brought instant rage was Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty in the United States by Sister Helen Prejean. It was eye-opening to read her story and see her thoughts develop about the death penalty.

August (Peridot): Pale green (It pales in comparison to other gems) – Name a supporting character who you like better than the main character.

Susan Pevensie, from C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia!

September (Sapphire): Blue like the ocean which is calming – Name a book that had a calming effect on you.

The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun by Gretchen Rubin.

October (Opal): Iridescent – Name an iridescent book, this can be a book with a beautiful cover (Shiny? Lots of color?) Or you can base it off of a character (Quirky? Colorful?)

Margo Roth Spiegelman from Paper Towns by John Green.

November (Topaz): Associated with resilience – Name a book with a character who rises to the top in a time of adversity.

Katniss Everdeen.

December (Blue Zircon / Turquoise): Associated with friendship – Name a book with a friendship you want to be a part of.

I’m naming two book series here – (1) All the girls (Kristy, Mary Anne, Stacey, Claudia, Dawn, Mallory, Jessi, Abby, Logan, and Shannon) from The Baby-Sitters Club series by Ann M. Martin, and (2) Nancy, Bess, and George from the Nancy Drew mysteries.

This was such a fun, different, and challenging tag!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Writing Prompt #42: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 4)

Week #4: A Family Member

You guys, it was really hard to pick just one family member! I’m grateful for every single person in my family!

But, my first instinct was to pick my Dad.

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November 2015: Father-daughter dance. Dad and I danced to “Carolina In My Mind” by James Taylor. This was a surprise for my mom as well – Dad played this song when he proposed to Mom!

I wanted to share a post that I wrote in April 2014, and I published it on Dad’s birthday that year:

Although it didn’t turn into the series of posts that I had hoped, I really enjoyed writing it.

Here’s what I wrote about my Dad in that post:

My dad’s the best. He’s been a major role model for me. Here’s 10 of the best things about him:

1. We have an awesome relationship. He’s always made me feel loved and appreciated. He’s definitely taught me hard lessons, but every minute has been worth it. The title of this blog comes from him – He started calling me “Hot Shot” forever ago. We have no idea how it started, but it’s stuck and I love it. It’s our nickname, so to speak.

2. I can call him at any time. He’s always willing to listen and offer non-emotional advice to me, even if I’m having a meltdown at 12:30 a.m.

3. Dad made me consider (stressing the word consider) the military as a career. I’m so proud to have been a Coast Guard brat.

4. Dad taught me how to do handy things – I watched him change the oil in our station wagon for the first time when I was in elementary school and that’s what started it all. I now change the oil in my Camry like clockwork, I know how to change a tire on a car and a truck, I’m decent at driving a stick, etc. And it’s not limited to just cars – I know how to change window screens, clean gutters, build a proper fire, use a chainsaw and a ton of other power tools, paint a room, and even a little bit of plumbing.

5. Dad is mission-oriented. I have seen him give so much time and effort to both local and international organizations for over 20 years. When we joined our Methodist Church in 1992, that’s one of the first things he got involved with, and he’s never left. Everything from feeding the homeless, to wrapping Christmas gifts for kids that have incarcerated parents, to blood drives, to mission trips; it never ends.

6.  Dad has an awesome talent for music. Growing up, he dabbled in the trumpet, drums, percussion. He was in the high school marching band and I’m sure he did something musical at the USCGA. Now, he’s been one of four men in the church handbell choir for the last 15 years and loves it!

7. Dad was my inspiration to start volunteering at blood drives and start giving blood. This is one of our shared passions. First, he gave blood for me when I was born at 25 weeks – That’ll be 26 years in a few months. He’s kept a folded piece of paper in his wallet that lists the date and location of every blood donations he’s given, and that’s been since the early 70s! Fast forward to the late 90s – Dad saw a need for a blood drive and thought our church could fill it. One of our church members had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1999 and we held a joint blood / bone marrow drive for her. That was in April 2000. We went from two drives in 2000 to our clockwork drives – The second Saturday of every even-numbered month (six times per year). We’ll celebrate our 14th anniversary drive in about a week – April 12th – and we are closing in on reaching 5,000 total units collected. We average around 55-60 units per drive, so we hope to celebrate 5,000 in June or August 🙂

8. Dad’s an amazing husband to my mom. They’ve been married for 32 years!

9. Dad was my savior when it came to math (until college, anyway – I was on my own for Honors Statistics). Mom was all thumbs after I got to middle school. Plus, being an engineer by trade certainly doesn’t hurt in this department. Some of my funniest memories were when we did my homework over multiple lines of communication. Example – He had to move to Florida for a work contract when I was in 7th grade; he was gone for almost 10 months. When I brought home my Pre-Algebra work, I’d finish it to the best of my ability, scan it, and email it to him. He’d review it, and then fax it back to me at home with any corrections (or suggestions as he likes to say). One of us would call the other and we’d discuss it until everything seemed right in the math world! We repeated this process when I was in high school Geometry and he was on the West Coast for work for a couple of months. It was certainly interesting!

10. Dad was / is a great role model for keeping me active. It started in the pool. He took me water-skiing when I was 6. We rode bikes all over the neighborhood with my mom. When I started rollerblading, he and Mom would ride their bikes and when I started to slow down, he’d throw me a tow rope and he’d pull me all the way home at breakneck speed. I played rec soccer for 7 years, so there were lots of pick-up games in the backyard. I played rec softball for one season, but Dad worked with me for a couple of years before that to help condition me. We played catch in New York’s Central Park. When we flew to Florida to visit my grandparents, we packed a bat, gloves, and this crazy contraption of a softball on a fiberglass pole that tremendously improved my hitting. You get the picture. Dad also learned to ride a unicycle years ago – and we still have it in the garage.

I love you, Dad!

 I can’t remember how it happened, exactly, but my mom learned about what I wrote. She asked me to print it out. We gave it to him for his 60th birthday last year!

Mom found a really nice frame, and it hangs in the front foyer of their house.

I’m incredibly grateful to have such a close relationship with my Dad. I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl, and I always will be.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #48: “Reasons Not To Be An Organ Donor”


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I first found this link on my good friend Megan’s amazing blog, Freckled Italian!

Here’s where I found the link:

Ready? Here we go!

Here’s the link to the original post:

For me, I didn’t even hesitate when I was asked if I wanted to be an organ donor. I said yes, absolutely.

So, I completely agree with the author’s position – There are no reasons not to be an organ donor!

Regardless, her piece was well-researched, and bit of humor, too!

For me, I greatly appreciated the statistics she included. Statistics always make articles more compelling for me.

There’s a known shortage of organs. The transplant lists are (or they feel like it, anyway) miles long. People die every single day waiting for kidneys, livers, hearts, lungs, and others. It’s so sad!

As an example: With blood donations, one pint from you can save up to three lives. With organ donation, you can potentially save many, many more. It’s an awesome concept!


Image Credit: UFMC Pueblo

I wanted to include some more links, in case anyone is interested in learning more:

Are you an organ donor?

Do you know someone who has received an organ?

Do you know someone on a transplant list?

Do you want to become an organ donor?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #55: “To A More Perfect Union”

I’ve tried really, really hard to not be political here on the blog, despite the tumultuous event that was the 2016 Presidential election. Politics have never been something I’ve been incredibly comfortable discussing, much less writing about, so I decided a while ago to keep quiet, unless something significant struck my heart or soul, and stirred something in me to write.

And then, yesterday, my stomach was in knots for most of the morning. The thing that most of us thought would never come true, actually happened. Donald Trump was inaugurated as the next President of the United States.

During lunch, as I was contemplating the future of healthcare, women’s rights, and other things, I turned to one of my favorite blogs, Freckled Italian.

Her post for Friday, January 20th couldn’t have been more aptly titled:

After reading it, and re-reading it, and reading it for a third time, I started to feel my stomach un-knoting itself, ever so slightly.


Image Credit: Freckled Italian

I downloaded the poster, printed it, and I plan to buy a frame for it this weekend. On Monday, I’ll place it in said frame and find a good spot for it on my desk, where I can look it every single day.

Thanks, Megan, for sharing. I needed it, and I think a lot of people needed it, too.

I’m raising my coffee mug this morning, one day after a historic inauguration, silently toasting, “Here’s to a more perfect union.”

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #54: “Zurich University Library, Switzerland” (Reblogged)

Honestly, when I first saw this photo, I thought it was a library in a fancy subway station!

I love seeing photos of other libraries, around the world! Seeing these every so often just furthers my desire to travel and take the time to visit them!

What about you? Is there a library that holds a special place in your heart? Where do you dream of traveling someday?

Until the next headline, Laura Beth

Just Wunderlust

Heather Walt
Zurich University Library, Switzerland

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Writing Prompt #41: “52 Weeks of Gratitude Challenge” (Week 3)

Week #3: Family

Y’all, my immediate family may be tiny, but I love all of them! I’m incredibly grateful for their support, literally from birth.

Some of you may not know that I was born at 25 weeks, or 3 1/2 months premature. My parents were at the hospital basically every day, visiting me in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), and others who couldn’t visit, they prayed for us. After spending 15 weeks in the hospital, I was able to come home on my original due date!

Mom and DAd

This was taken by Al at my graduation from Longwood in May 2011. I love my Mom and Dad!

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Fast-forward to our wedding day in November 2015!

Aside from my parents, my grandparents are / were amazing. This is why I’ve been to Florida over 100 times. As a kid, we visited them at least four times a year. We usually split a week between Seminole (on the Gulf Coast) and Miami. My dad’s dad is still alive, doing great at 91! My mom’s brother still lives in Miami. I was very fortunate to have all four of my grandparents until I was 20 years old – A massive blessing.

My dad has two sisters, and they live in the Midwest – Wisconsin and Illinois. One is married, and one is single. Each of the three siblings had only children, so it was just Ryan, Missy, and me. Ryan and I share the love of the Green Bay Packers! He’s currently in the Coast Guard, stationed in Missouri. Missy and I aren’t that close, but we’re still cousins.

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Our wedding day – The whole family! Three-quarters of this group make up Al’s family, but I love it!

And then, there’s my amazing, significantly bigger family on Al’s side. I married into a HUGE family! When both Mom and Dad V. have three siblings apiece, it’s crazy big!

We had a get-together in early December, and there were 25 people there – And that was just part of Dad V.’s side!

I also have multiple people in my life that I consider to be like family – Sorority sisters, church family, PEO sisters, and a handful more.

All in all, I can easily list / think of 100+ people that I consider to be part of my family. It’s an incredible feeling.

I’m also very happy that I have such a good relationship with my family, in general. We have our disagreements and challenges, but we’re not estranged or anything like that. My family has been incredibly stable for many, many years, and I thank God for that.

Both sets of parents are celebrating their 35th wedding anniversaries in 2017! It’s so exciting!

Also, Nick and Savy are getting married in October! Woohoo!

Down the road, Al and I are excited to grow our own family, as well. For now, though, I’m watching several friends experience pregnancy and giving life to their children, many for the first time.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #53: First TBR Recap


Image Credit: Goodreads

These last few months have flown by! It’s time to update my To Be Read  (TBR) list.

Here’s the link to my original post:

This is what I’ve read since creating my TBR in October:

  1. Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, Koren Zailckas
  2. The Sky’s The Limit: My Journey with Maryellen, Valerie Tripp
  3. The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
  4. Chicken Soup for the Soul: Just Us Girls: 101 Stories about Friendship for Women of All Ages; Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Amy Newmark
  5. Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America, Jill Leovy
  6. The War That Saved My Life, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

And now, here’s my updated list!

Laura Beth’s To Be Read (TBR) List, as of January 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. The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
  6. Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller
  7. New Boy, Julian Houston
  8. The Casual Vacancy, J.K. Rowling
  9. 11/22/63, Stephen King
  10. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs
  11. Hollow City, Ransom Riggs
  12. Library of Souls, Ransom Riggs
  13. Tales of the Peculiar, Ransom Riggs
  14. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling
  15. Quidditch Through the Ages, J.K. Rowling
  16. Music in My Heart: My Journey with MelodyErin Falligant with Denise Lewis Patrick
  17. Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Emma Straub
  18. Modern Lovers, Emma Straub
  19. In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume
  20. You Will Know Me, 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. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
  27. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
  28. Another Brooklyn, Jacqueline Woodson
  29. The Art of Memoir, Mary Karr
  30. Loving Day, Mat Johnson
  31. American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes, and Trial of Patty Hearst, Jeffrey Toobin
  32. The Run of His Life: The People v. O.J. Simpson, Jeffrey Toobin
  33. The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future, Gretchen Bakke
  34. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, J.D. Vance
  35. A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression, Jane Ziegelman and Andy Coe
  36. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
  37. Bright, Precious Days, Jay McInerney
  38. Underground Airlines, Ben Winters
  39. A Good Month for Murder: The Inside Story of a Homicide Squad, Del Quentin Wilber
  40. American Girl: Ultimate Visual Guide, Erin Falligant, Laurie Calkhoven, Carrie Anton
  41. Teardrops of the Innocent: The White Diamond Story (True Colors – Volume 1), Allie Marie
  42. Grace and Grit: My Fight for Equal Pay and Fairness at Goodyear and Beyond, Lily Ledbetter
  43. The Whistler, John Grisham
  44. Jefferson’s Sons: A Founding Father’s Secret Children, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  45. The War I Finally Won, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  46. Read All About It: A Kit Classic Volume 1, Valerie Tripp
  47. Turning Things Around: A Kit Classic Volume 2, Valerie Tripp
  48. Full Speed Ahead: My Journey with Kit, Valerie Tripp

That’s all, for now!

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

What have you read recently? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy reading!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂