Getting Personal #242: April Goals

Image Credit: Maria Estes Photography

Welcome back!


Here are my goals for the month of April:

  1. Participate in Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2021.
  2. Finish the first draft of my second novel.
  3. Donate blood.
  4. Celebrate Dad’s birthday!
  5. Hang at least three items on my office walls.
  6. Publish at least one Commentary post.
  7. Renew my library card.
  8. Publish at least two Book Review posts.
  9. Publish my quarterly TBR Recap post.
  10. Finish reviewing my friend’s first draft of their novel.

What about you? Do you have any goals for the month of April?

Let me know in the comments!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #241: March Goals Recap

Image Credit: Pinterest

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of March:

  1. Prepare for Camp NaNoWriMo, April 2021. —- Accomplished!
  2. Continue progress on the 2022 Virginia State Convention. —- Accomplished!
  3. Be elected P.E.O. Chapter President for 2021-2022. —- Accomplished!
  4. Do finishing work for the P.E.O. Virginia State IPS committee. —- Accomplished!
  5. Make sure the living room has no more clutter. —- Did not accomplish yet.
  6. Order the remaining curtains! —- Accomplished!
  7. Publish two Book Review posts. —- Accomplished!
  8. Publish one Commentary post. —- Accomplished!
  9. Take my iron supplements and daily vitamins to ensure I can give blood in April. —- Accomplished!
  10. Attend a couple fun events via Zoom. —- Accomplished!

I made a lot of progress this month. I’m excited to dive back into my second novel tomorrow!

I have several more Commentary posts in the works, and I’ve been rotating through several different books this month.

Keep your fingers crossed that I can give blood this weekend!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #239: February Goals Recap

Image Credit: pinterest.com

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of February:

  1. Donate blood. — Did not accomplish yet.
  2. Watch the Super Bowl with Al. — Accomplished!
  3. Celebrate Valentine’s Day! — Accomplished!
  4. Clean out the pantry to donate food to the church food pantry. — Accomplished!
  5. Go through all my clothes again for donations. —- Accomplished!
  6. Clean off the couch in my office, and keep it clean. —- Did not accomplish yet.
  7. Prepare for our taxes. — Accomplished!
  8. Fully fund my Roth IRA for the year when I meet with my financial advisor for my annual review. — Accomplished!
  9. Publish at least one Book Review. — Accomplished!
  10. Publish at least one Commentary post. — Accomplished!
  11. Publish at least one Writing Prompt post. —- Accomplished!

I felt a lot more productive this month. I wrote and published more blog posts this month than I have in quite a while. And I have several more new ones in the works!

The Super Bowl was pretty disappointing in terms of the game. Even the commercials weren’t super impressive. However, I did make amazing food for Al and I to eat!

Valentine’s Day was a bit of an adventure this year, since I got my second COVID vaccine on Thursday the 11th. The immune response was fast, faster than I had anticipated. I got the shot at 8:00 a.m., and around 3:00 p.m., my energy went from 100 to zero. I finished working from home, and then attempted to eat dinner. I started having chills, a slight headache, and a low fever. I drank a ton of water and managed to finish one of the small/mini bottles of Gatorade. I’m really glad several people encouraged me to take the next day off from work, because I needed it. I had already slept around 10 hours between Thursday night and Friday morning. I took a long shower on Friday morning, and then slept off and on for another three hours. My dad was nice to bring over Panera chicken soup. I ate about half of it with more water and Gatorade. The only time I got really concerned was when I took my temperature on Friday afternoon. It has risen to 103.1. I looked up the definition of a high fever for my age. I was already considering taking some medicine, and I took an Aleve. My fever started coming down, and broke later that night. By Saturday, I was feeling much better. Valentine’s Day was a bit subdued (because the pandemic is still happening), but I was back to 100 percent. We got takeout. All this to say – I’m grateful I was able to get the vaccine so quickly. I may have felt like I had the flu for 36 hours, but that’s far better than having COVID and being on a ventilator, or worse.

I went through all my clothes in my IKEA drawers and closet, including the three under-bed storage bins that I reorganized last summer. I filled a large leftover shipping box for Darby’s Dresses consignment. The rest is being picked up by the Vietnam Veterans of America tomorrow.

Writing Prompt #249: An Evening in London

Image Credit: Imbibe

My friend, Ren, and I met through the NaNoWriMo group on Facebook. She loves many things British, and we talk on Messenger frequently. She inspired me to write this post about London society and parties.

Enjoy!


The invitation nearly slipped out of Beatrice’s hands, soaked in sweat. She leaned back in the Uber, muttering to herself.

“You’ve got this, you’ve got this. Everything is going to be just fine.”

The Uber driver glanced in the rear-view mirror.

“We’ve nearly arrived, Miss Winchester. Do you need a water or something from the cooler?”

Beatrice smiled slightly.

“I’d down a nice glass of Chardonnay right here, given the chance,” She thought, praying it didn’t come out of her mouth.

“Miss Winchester? Are you all right?”

“Oh, yes, I’m fine. Thank you, sir. Water, please.”

He fished out a cold Dasani. Beatrice’s hands shook slightly as she unscrewed the cap. She set down the invitation on the black leather seat, wishing she’d asked him to turn around and take her back to her building.

She swallowed, feeling a little better.

“Thank you for the water, sir, I appreciate it. How much do I owe you?”

The man smiled. He’d been driving for Uber for quite a while, and it earned him a good living. He’d paid extra for the car cooler several months ago, and knew when the society season ramped up. The spring and summer were unbearable at times, and it wasn’t just the temperatures.

Beatrice Winchester was his first society passenger of the night, and he knew there were many more to come. The invitation that was fluttering in her hand when he pulled up to her building was the signal.

Beatrice shuffled a bit. She never thought a mix of taffeta and silk could be so uncomfortable, even though she loved the dress the minute she saw it on the dress form in the shop window in February.

“How much do I owe you?”

“It’s nothing extra, Miss Winchester. Unless you’re feeling generous, of course. It’s my pleasure to provide beverages to my passengers.”

She laughed. “I wish you could carry alcohol, sir.”

He matched her laugh. “Nearly every customer of mine, especially at your age, says or wishes the exact same thing. I can’t, by Uber rules, but I wish they would, with so many people asking.”

Beatrice felt a bit more relaxed as the ride came to an end. She liked this driver, James, and looked forward to requesting him for the ride home. It was nice that you could do that with Uber and Lyft, unlike the traditional cabs.

“Well, here we are, Miss Winchester.”

Beatrice turned her head. The butterflies swarmed again.

The office building had been transformed into a gala. So many people were outside, it felt like a red-carpet event for celebrities.

“Are you paying through your phone?”

“Oh, yes, thank you.”

She opened her Uber app, paid her fare, tipped generously, with a few pounds extra for the cold water. And gave him five stars. Beatrice Winchester was hard to please, but this was easy, in comparison to what she was facing.

James’s phone dinged with the payment confirmation.

“Thank you, Miss Winchester. Much appreciated and obliged.”

She tipped her head. “You’re welcome. Are you going to be driving later?”

He smiled. “All night.”

“I’ll wait for you. You’re one of the best drivers I’ve had.”

He smiled, undid his seat belt, and got out to open her door.

“Do you need anything else?”

She smiled, shook his hand, and thanked him for opening her door.

“I’ll see you later, I hope.”

“I hope so, too, Miss Winchester. Thank you again for your generosity and kindness. Enjoy the party.”

She watched him straighten her seat belt, close her door, and wiped his hands before getting back in the driver’s seat. He nodded to her again, cut on his turn signal, and navigated back into what was now heavier traffic.

Beatrice sighed, watching him drive away.

—-

She didn’t want to turn around, but forced herself to. As a promise to her mother last year, Beatrice had agreed to go to at least one society party, if invited. Her mother had married her father long before she was ever invited to any society party, so it was a lot to ask of Beatrice.

At this point, she was 21, floundering a bit at university, and was struggling with general direction. She didn’t consider herself a party girl, but enjoyed going out with her friends. But these society parties were well-respected, and many were honored to be invited. So when the fancy envelope, with delicate calligraphy, showed up in Beatrice’s mailbox in January, her mother was beside herself.

“Oh, Bumblebee, how marvelous! We must get you a dress soon.”

Beatrice sighed as her mom dissolved into another coughing fit. The bronchitis was chronic now, even with a weekly housekeeper, no pets, and no more roses from Dad.

“Mom? Are you okay?”

She struggled to catch her breath. “Yes, of course, Bumblebee. I’m going to sit down.”

“I can always ring you back.”

“No, no. I’m fine now. This is a momentous occasion that needs to be celebrated.”

“Mom, come on. It’s one society party.”

“This one party may make all the difference, Bumblebee.”

Beatrice rolled her eyes, but felt her heart swell. Maybe her mom was right. The party wasn’t until June. After classes ended. The summer was always her favorite season. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.

—-

As she rolled her shoulder blades, trying to ignore the still-very-uncomfortable dress, impossible strapless bra, higher-than-normal heels, and copious sweat, Beatrice took a deep breath. She listened. The familiar notes from the string quartet entered her ears.

She hummed along with the beautiful music of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata as she pressed her way through the crowd. She clutched the invitation, praying she would find the front door soon.

“May I help you?”

“Yes, I’m here for the party.”

“Your invitation, please.”

Feeling icky, she handed over the damp invitation.

“Welcome, Miss Beatrice Winchester. There is plenty of food and drinks available, at no extra charge. Bathrooms are to the right of the event hall. Stay as long as you like. Did you drive here?”

“No sir, I took an Uber.”

He nodded. “That’s pleasant to hear. Some guests do drive themselves, and we usually have to take away their keys. We are glad that you won’t be one of them tonight. We are very safety-conscious.”

Beatrice smiled, although feeling even more uncomfortable, if that was possible.

“Well, Miss Winchester, please enjoy your evening. We are delighted in your presence. If you need anything at all, please find one of the staff members.”

Beatrice smiled, thanked the man and woman, and tipped the doorman.

She climbed the stairs, feeling a blister form on her left heel.

“Oh dear. The shoes are coming off sooner than I thought.”

—-

The cold air was welcomed, although the event hall was packed and humid. Beatrice lost count at 200 people, although the room easily held 500. There weren’t many tables and chairs, just the smattering of high cocktail tables in the four corners. There was a massive dance floor. The string quartet was ending Moonlight Sonata as she searched the room.

She absent-mindedly fiddled with her sequined clutch, trying to figure out her next move. The string quartet bowed, and polite applause rose. She clapped along. As the string quartet departed, she saw someone approach a small stage with a microphone.

“Welcome, everyone, to the first society party of the year. We are delighted that so many of you have joined us this early in the evening. We have a lot of great entertainment lined up tonight. We also have food and drinks at no extra charge. We are expecting about 500 people total. Please, enjoy yourselves. I’ll be back shortly to introduce the next entertainment.”

Polite applause rose again as the man departed. Recorded pop music started up from the speakers, and a few women started dancing.

—-

Beatrice was tempted to become one with a wall, but pictured her mother’s face. She was so thrilled this day had come, even though Dad had to take the obligatory photos because Mom was sick in bed, again. She could barely speak, hardly able to tell Beatrice she loved her.

She pictured Mom’s face, then Dad’s. Even though she felt she was floundering in every aspect of life, she knew Mom and Dad were proud of her. After Evan died three years ago, this was such a bright spot. Beatrice was determined to keep buzzing along, even if it was only for one night to buoy her parents’ spirits.

“Hi! I’m Abigail. What’s your name?”

Beatrice smiled. “Hi, I’m Beatrice. Nice to meet you.”

“Do you dance?”

Beatrice shrugged. “I’m pretty daft.”

Abigail laughed. “I’m terrible, but anyone who tells me to my face that can shove it. Come on!”

Beatrice was swept up in the dancing. All the girls on the floor were kind, almost too polite. There was Abigail, Mallory, Melody, Emily, and Wren. Another girl named Ashley soon joined in.

“Where are the guys?”

Beatrice laughed, trying to catch her breath. “I think they’re all intimidated by us.”

Mallory whooped. “They’re all jealous. We’re the best dancers in this whole lot.”

The girls danced for another half-hour, until “Uptown Funk” ended.

—-

Abigail and Mallory, clearly the most experienced society party-goers, showed the rest of the girls the ropes.

“We come for the dancing, and the drinks!”

Beatrice smiled. “So, how is this different from going out to the pub or club?”

Mallory hooted. “This is the fanciest of them all. I love getting dressed up. Sure, my mum is always thrilled and fusses over me, but I get a kick of every party. Some of my gals have found husbands, a few left their guys and fell in love with girls, and the rest of us love being single and partying it up every season.”

“Is there an age limit?”

Abigail waved her hand. “Kind of. The upper age is around 30. It’s ‘expected’ that you have a job, a family by then. But I scoff. I’m 28. As long as I keep getting invited, I’m coming. It’s nice to get dressed up, get your hair done, full makeup, and let loose a little.”

Beatrice shifted. “I’m still pretty uncomfortable.”

Mallory snorted slightly. “I felt that way my first party, too. I didn’t want my taxi to leave. The driver was so handsome, too.”

Beatrice relaxed a bit. “That’s how I felt, too. My Uber driver is pretty hot, if I do say so myself.”

It turned out that five of the girls had been James’s passengers at least a couple of times. He was evidently very popular.

—-

“Is he married?” One of the youngest girls, Evelyn, asked dreamily.

Beatrice smiled, and thought she recognized Evelyn.

As Mallory answered in the negative, Beatrice kept glancing at Evelyn.

“Evelyn, darling, where do you live?”

She was startled by Beatrice’s question.

“233 Cornwall.”

“That’s my building!”

“Come off it, really? Which floor?”

Abigail leaned over and whispered to Mallory. “Every single time. There are people who live in the same buildings, and don’t even know it.”

Beatrice relaxed even further after meeting Evelyn. They quickly made plans to meet up again. Beatrice didn’t even need that big glass of Chardonnay to quell her nerves, although she appreciated the offer. She enjoyed herself as the night slipped away. The ladies ate, drank a bit, flirted, and danced.

—-

About 450 guests showed up. The party got a bit raucous after one the most sought-after DJs in the city was revealed to be the main entertainment.

Beatrice felt herself buzzing with her new friends, enjoying the diversity of the group. Abigail and Mallory were the most experienced. Evelyn was starry-eyed the whole time.

Emily danced her feet off with one guy who kept undressing her with his eyes, not that she noticed. Melody was making the rounds with three different girls, trying not to tip off any of them.

Ashley was feeling insecure about transitioning from Adam, but she felt inspired by all the women.

Wren was swept up with a guy that everyone else thought was creepy. He ended up getting kicked out a few hours later because he got himself uproariously drunk, tried to steal the microphone from the DJ, and projectile vomited on the security guards as they were escorting them out.

Abigail jabbed her thumb in his direction and giggled, laying her head on Mallory’s shoulder. “That’s another thing that happens. Every. Single. Time. Without fail. We always laugh at the crazy drunk ones. They get hauled out, and we all dissolve into giggles.”

Evelyn sipped her wine, feeling a bit unsteady.

“Beatrice?”

“Yes, Evelyn?”

“Can I share your Uber home with you? I’m feeling sleepy.”

Abigail chuckled. “That’s the wine talking, dear.”

Evelyn blushed. “It is my first party.”

Mallory sighed. “Don’t go yet, girls. Please!”

Evelyn stifled a yawn. “I’ll go easier on the wine. Next time.”

Beatrice smiled, and helped Evelyn to her feet. “Come on, sweetie, let’s get James and go home.”

Evelyn laid her head on Beatrice’s shoulder. “Yes, let’s do that. Help me not slobber all over him? Deal?”

Beatrice waved at the other girls as Evelyn chattered on.

“Until the next party, girls! Let’s do this again soon.”

James was as handsome as ever, helping Evelyn and Beatrice into the backseat.

As Evelyn dozed off within minutes, James caught Beatrice’s eye.

“Did you have a good time, Miss Winchester?”

“Yes, I did, indeed. And please, call me Beatrice. Thank you for driving us home, James. I have several new friends. And I can’t wait for the next society party.”

James raised an eyebrow, and they both laughed.

“I’m glad you had a good time, Beatrice. Most society invitees do. And making new friends is always good and fun. Thanks for trusting me to drive both of you.”

“We look forward to requesting you again, hopefully soon.”

James smiled, and focused back on the empty streets. Beatrice sighed, checked on Evelyn, and stared out the window. As she watched the city lights pass by, she sighed happily. Mom and Dad would be thrilled, and she was satisfied, too. She wondered when the next fancy envelope with calligraphy would be in her mailbox.

Even if she never got another one, she knew she’d made at least seven new friends tonight, and that was a pretty successful night in her book.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Book Review #92: “Loved By The Beast: A Historical Retelling of Beauty and the Beast”

I received my copy of this book for free from the author. I’m excited to read more from her!

This is Elliott’s debut novel, but you wouldn’t know it. She immerses you in early 18th century France instantly. The hardest part for me was not picturing the movies!

I loved Lea and Audric. I also appreciated Elliott weaving in their families, and their elaborate histories. It was so charming and special, like I was dropped into an actual history book and enveloped in a warm embrace the entire time. I had a really hard time putting it down. It took me a long time to finish it, but every single chapter kept me wanting to read the next one.

Even better, Loved by the Beast is the first in a trilogy called The Beast’s Legacy. I’m looking forward to reading Book 2, Service and Slumber: A Historical Tale Inspired by Sleeping Beauty very soon. The third book, A Gentle Pursuit, is slated to be published soon.


Have you read any historical retellings?

Do you enjoy fairy tales?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Commentary #112: Thoughts on “Baby Driver”

Image Credit: Wikipedia

I bought Baby Driver (2017) on Blu-ray for Al for his birthday. I’d never seen it until recently, but thought the trailer looked pretty cool a couple of years ago.

From the get-go, I was pulled in and wasn’t let go until the end credits. Edgar Wright is a master filmmaker, and pretty much a genius! I immediately recognized why Al enjoyed this movie so much in the theater. I originally wasn’t interested, and I’m pretty sure I was out of town when Al went to see it. But, my goodness, I wish I had seen this in the theater!

I can’t say a whole lot without creating spoilers, but the music is absolutely top-notch. The cast was expertly picked, and I honestly can’t think of a single person that would have been better than those who were in it.

I want to watch it again soon, and I told Al that Baby Driver is now in my top 10 list of all-time movies. I’m really glad I bought that Blu-ray!


Have you seen Baby Driver?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth:)

Getting Personal #238: February Goals

Image Credit: Balancing Today

Welcome back! It’s already month #2 of 2021!


Here are my goals for the month of February:

  1. Donate blood.
  2. Watch the Super Bowl with Al.
  3. Celebrate Valentine’s Day!
  4. Clean out the pantry to donate food to the church food pantry.
  5. Go through all my clothes again for donations.
  6. Clean off the couch in my office, and keep it clean.
  7. Prepare for our taxes.
  8. Fully fund my Roth IRA for the year when I meet with my financial advisor for my annual review.
  9. Publish at least one Book Review.
  10. Publish at least one Commentary post.
  11. Publish at least one Writing Prompt post.

What about you? Do you have any goals for this month? Let me know – I’d love to cheer you on!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #237: January Goals Recap

Image Credit: Centre for Collaborative Health

Welcome back!

Here were my goals for the month of January:

  1. Publish at least two Book Reviews. — Did not accomplish yet.
  2. Publish my latest TBR Recap post. — Accomplished!
  3. Spend at least two hours every weekend on my office. — Did not accomplish yet.
  4. Look up at least five new recipes to use in meal planning. — Accomplished!
  5. Celebrate Al’s birthday! — Accomplished!
  6. Celebrate P.E.O. Founders Day. — Accomplished!
  7. Complete the filing project with the filing cabinet in my office. — Did not accomplish yet.

I didn’t have the energy to write the Book Reviews in January, but I’m hoping February will be a different story! Al and I were just talking about getting up 15 minutes earlier in the mornings, to shift back to our “traditional” schedule/routine, so I’m hoping those extra 15 minutes will help me blog a bit more in the mornings before starting work. We’re determined to start it on Monday. He remarked that it was a possible “unpopular opinion,” but I think it’s a good idea. I’m eventually going back into the office full-time, so doing this now will help ease that transition for me. It’s supposed to happen at the end of June / early July, but we shall see.

You can read my latest TBR Recap post here: Getting Personal #236: Seventeenth TBR Recap

My office is still a work in progress. I’m hoping to completely clear off the couch, and keep it clean, in February.

The recipes were the easiest thing that I accomplished this month!

  1. Sheet-Pan Chili-Lime Salmon with Sweet Potatoes & Broccoli – This one was a hit. I’m definitely doing this one more than once in 2021. The salmon is a bit expensive, but we found it on sale at Lidl.
  2. Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce (See photo below) – This was easily as good, maybe better, than Olive Garden’s. Super easy to make! I poured it over rotini pasta, and it fed us for four nights.
  3. Chicken with Curried Mango Sauce (Haven’t made this yet, but it’s on the list)
  4. Slow Cooker Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos (Haven’t made this yet, but it’s on the list)
  5. Crispy Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings (Haven’t made this yet, but it’s on the list)
  6. Slow Cooker Pork Carnitas (Mexican Pulled Pork) – Haven’t made this yet, but it’s on the list.
  7. Best Chicken Alfredo Roll-Ups (Planning to do this one next week!)
  8. Honey Garlic Steak Bites (I think I made this once last year, but I can’t remember, so I’m counting it as new)
  9. Hawaiian Roll Ham Sliders – I made this for Al and I and they did not last long. Yummy. I’m making them again this weekend when we watch the Super Bowl.
  10. Crispy Baked Shrimp Scampi (Haven’t made this yet, but it’s on the list)
Found through Facebook.

I also watched Baby Driver (2017) for the first time! It was an excellent movie. Edgar Wright is a master.

Al’s birthday was on a Monday this year. We both worked, and then we had steak, shrimp with cocktail sauce, and crab puppies. My mom made amazing key lime cake for him, and I bought a cookie cake. I’ll post the Crab Puppies recipe below. I’ve substituted the Ritz crackers for bread crumbs both times I’ve made it, and I don’t think I’ll change that. My college roommate, Amanda, made that suggestion when I shared the recipe on Facebook.

We had a wonderful P.E.O. Tidewater Reciprocity Founders Day event – Our first virtual one! We had over 50 women join us via Zoom.

I was able to sell several American Girl items that were duplicates through the big doll board/group on Facebook, so that was exciting! I’m slowly reducing that volume, piece by piece.


Did you have any goals for the month of January?

Come back tomorrow to see my February Goals!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #235: Part of History (January 20, 2021)

Image Credit: CNBC.com

Today has been a momentous day for me. See below. This is what I posted on Facebook this morning. I’m still in awe, and still celebrating.

I hope others in my life will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine soon!

Cheers, friends!


January 20, 2021

How am I feeling? Grateful, humbled, thankful.

I received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine this morning at Sentara Obici Hospital.

The staff at Obici were fabulous. Everything went smoothly. The first dose felt exactly like the flu shot. Aside from a slightly sore arm, I’m not feeling any side effects.

After I got back to my car, I prayed. I thanked God for this opportunity. My 95-year-old Grandpa got his first dose at the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center yesterday.

Today is also Inauguration Day. The U.S. will have a new President, and the first-ever woman Vice President will be sworn in. I’m grateful, humbled, and thankful.

Now, it’s back to work (from home), but I feel better and safer today than I have in a long, long time.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #234: January Goals

Image Credit: emilysquotes.com

Happy New Year! Cheers to 2021!!

Here are my goals for the month of January:

  1. Publish at least two Book Reviews.
  2. Publish my latest TBR Recap post.
  3. Spend at least two hours every weekend on my office.
  4. Look up at least five new recipes to use in meal planning.
  5. Celebrate Al’s birthday!
  6. Celebrate P.E.O. Founders Day.
  7. Complete the filing project with the filing cabinet in my office.

What about you? Do you have any goals for this month?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂