Summer school

Photo of BPL Courtyard

In my review of my bucket list earlier this week, I’ve come to the conclusion that one of my items (taking a class) isn’t realistic for me this summer. It’s been seven months since I completed my last college class, and I’m desperate for some sort of academic stimulation. So I’ve decided to jump on the DIY bandwagon and create my own summertime curriculum. I’m going to do my own research on topics that catch my attention: current events, changes in my industry, things I’ve never heard of before… Really, anything that piques my interest.

Part of (most of) my job involves marketing and publicity through traditional methods and digital platforms. My sources for information come primarily from business publications like Entrepreneur, Inc., Forbes, and the Harvard Business Review.

InboundvOutbound

Photo via Photo Pin

The New Age of Marketing (originally posted on exploreB2B)

Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz about companies catching on to new marketing methods. Businesses are asking: How do we connect with our audience? What is the best way to enhance engagement, build loyalty, and increase retention? Which tools are the best to use to achieve all of these goals and more? I decided to learn a little bit more about new, innovative marketing strategies: What works, what used to work, and how marketing and PR professionals can effectively implement these changes.

Inbound vs. Outbound

The new and old marketing strategies are distinguished by “inbound” and “outbound” marketing. Inbound marketing involves attracting customers to you with all the colors of a blooming peacock –rather than bombarding them with junk mail. Advances in technology (spam filters alone) make the rude interruption that is outbound marketing obsolete and ineffective in terms of cost and conversion rates. If you want to turn leads into loyal customers, focus inbound marketing efforts on the following three areas:

  • Blogging: Create and share useful, relevant, and interactive content that aligns with your customers’ needs and interests.
  • SEO: Optimize your pages with relevant keywords to make your content readily but organically available for buyers when they search.
  • Social media: Engage with customers and encourage feedback using these real-time customer service tools.

In all, don’t market at a person, but incite a conversation. Draw customers to you with creative and quality content. Supplement with stories, jokes, and interactive media. Ask and respond to questions, and address your customers’ needs to keep them coming back for more.

Additional resources:

  • HubspotInbound Marketing Methodology
  • IncThe New Rules for Marketing, Geoffrey James
  • MashableInbound Marketing vs. Outbound Marketing 
  • OptifyInbound vs. Outbound Marketing, Scott Fasser
  • Social Media TodayInbound or Outbound Marketing? Monica Jade Romeri

Summer, so far

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Recent travels to Philly and Nantucket, followed by a particularly jam-packed 4th of July weekend put my writing and updates on hold. But now I’m back in Boston to catch my breath (for a minute). It’s been a weekend of “housekeeping” and I thought I’d do the same for my blog. This is the perfect opportunity to check the progress of my bucket list, now that we’re (already?) more than halfway through summer:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
    • So far, so good! Tweeting all day, everyday at @BtwnLines.
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
    • With the exception of last week…
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN
    • STILL NEED TO DO THIS!
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
    • Best 4th of July weekend ever and looking forward to more summer fun 🙂
  • Reconnect with old friends
    • Recent reconnections and upcoming date nights scheduled!
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
    • In Boston, New York, and on Nantucket  –and always looking for more.
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
    • Found an awesome cigarette tin at the 34th St. outdoor market in New York.
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
    • Fenway counts as a park, right? Need to work on this one…
  • Take my cooking to a new level and try some new recipes (like learn to make ice cream)
  • Find the best ice cream in the city if/when I fail at making my own
    • In leaving this goal virtually unfulfilled, I will always be on the hunt for better ice cream (and have an excuse to eat more).
    • Please note: Fresh cucumber ice cream is back at JP Licks for July!
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
    • Been going the same route for awhile, but want to get out to Jamaica Pond.
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books:

A few of my favorite sites & blogs:

Already read:

    • Girl with a Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier
    • And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini (my review)
    • We Live in Water, Jess Walter
    • TransAtlantic, Colum McCann

Currently reading:

    • Tinkers, Paul Harding

On the list:

    • Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
    • The Cuckoo’s Nest, Robert Gailbraith (aka JK Rowling)
    • Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, Robin Sloan
    • Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walter
    • This is How You Lose Her, Junot Diaz
    • … always open to more suggestions!
  • Do outdoor yoga
    • The Liberty Hotel offers complimentary community yoga classes on Saturdays at 10am! On nice days, these take place outside on their patio.
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
    • Hayden (by basil plant) is just hanging by thread, but trying to revive him!
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
    • If time is of the essence, all my contracts are broken.
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
    • Two adorable bookshops on Nantucket, and again, always looking for more.
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
    • Check!
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
    • Really, this is not difficult for me to do. I get lost in my own neighborhood.
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
    • Yes!
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
    • Back home in three weeks!
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness
    • 🙂

Halfway through summer, and halfway through my list! This is not to say, however, that my strikethroughs indicate a permanent “check.” I absolutely plan to spend as much time as possible with friends, and do more reading, writing, cooking, traveling, experimenting, discovering, wallowing in happiness. And, of course, continue to get lost between the lines.

Friends, food, and the Fourth of July

Photo of railroad tracks

I’m back in Boston after the most enjoyable weekend that took me out of the city and away from the heat. I hope everyone else had a wonderful Fourth of July weekend as well, whether it was a few days on the beach, a poolside barbeque, or watching fireworks on the Esplanade. I realized this weekend that it doesn’t even matter what you do, as long as you’re surrounded by the people you love.

If you’re just out of college, holidays are the perfect opportunity to set some precedents for future mini-reunions and meet ups. When I was in college, I already knew that I’d made friends for life. After graduation, when everyone disperses to different cities with different goals and career paths, it can feel like the distance will cause a drift. This weekend only reaffirmed that my friendships are as solid as ever.

Poolside

And nothing brings people together like food. It is important to nourish the relationships you already have, and make a good impression for new introductions. My friends and I definitely indulged in nourishment, and it only helped fuel our epic weekend. I started mine off right with a backyard barbecue.

One of my go-to’s for summertime get-togethers is this Cucumber Mango Salsa, adapted from Simply Scratch. Refreshing, sweet, and a little spicy, this salsa is sure to win you love and affection from friends old and new.

Gather ingredients.

 Salsa ingredients

Slice cucumbers lengthwise.

 Sliced cucumbers

And scoop out their guts (or your salsa will be too watery).

 Cucumber guts

Lay cucumbers out to dry on a paper towel while you chop up mango & red onion.

Dry cucumbers

Add all ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Add lime juice, salt and pepper. 

 Cucumber kaleidoscope

Stir and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 Mango-Cucumber mix

If you can, prepare your salso day ahead of time for a greater intensity of flavor. I recommend serving with Tostito’s multigrain sccops, but this is also a great addition to salads or alongside some grilled seafood.

Cucumber-Mango Salsa

Ingredients:

  • Cucumber
  • Mango
  • Red onion
  • Lime juice
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • Optional: Jalapeño, avocado,  cilantro

Serve with: Chips, pita bread

Pair with: Salads, tacos, quesadillas, seafood

NOT the same as ice cream

During a visit home last weekend, I watched part of Parental Guidance (2012), a cute but perfectly predictable family comedy. In the film, grandparents (played by Billy Crystal and Bette Midler) make the mistake of buying an ice cream cake for their sugar-deprived grandchildren. Chaos ensues as the children devour the entire Carvel. Upon their mother’s return, the eldest accuses: “Mom, you lied to me! Yogurt is not like ice cream!”

That’s kind of how I felt when I tried this recipe that has bombarded the health boards of Pinterest since last summer:

 Frozen Banana Ice Cream

Photo of frozen banana

Freeze a banana overnight. Peel & chop into bite-size pieces.

Several food/cooking bloggers claim that if you freeze a banana and blend it till smooth, the result will yield a refreshing treat “just like soft serve ice cream!” No additional dairy, sweeteners, or ice cream maker needed. Learning to make ice cream was one of my goals for summer, but I was not quite ready to invest in the necessary equipment. This seemed like the perfect solution.

Photo of blended banana

Blend until smooth.

What I want to know is what sick and twisted health-food fanatic thought that a blended frozen banana could even compare to the rich and silky decadence that is ice cream. Sure, the result looks like ice cream, and the consistency is similar, but this cold, cream-less mush falls short of my snobbish standards.

Photo ice cream

Topped with fresh strawberries & chopped almonds.

Perhaps a blended banana concoction could serve as an adequate alternative for those so unfortunate to suffer from a lactose intolerance or dairy allergy. But it is by no means a substitute.

So do yourself a favor and indulge in the real deal. If you’re local to Boston, head down to your neighborhood J.P. Lick’s. Their featured flavors for June include Fresh Strawberry Rhubarb and Candied Ginger. Or, make a trip out to Toscanini’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge, where they boast unique flavors like Vienna Finger Cookie, Lemon Pistachio, Bourbon Black Pepper, and Earl Grey. Never settle for less when best is at the tip of your tongue.

While I have a few signature locations nailed down, I’m still on the hunt to find the best ice cream in the city. Apparently, it’s not to be found in my own kitchen.

Philly, for a second.

Photo of home

This weekend, I visited home for the first time in six months. I know that many twenty-somethings are too busy or too broke to journey home more than once a year, so I really can’t complain if I get to make the trip twice or three even times. But even so, I crave the simple comforts of drinking coffee on the porch in the morning, reading on the hammock, waking up in my childhood bed… more and more after each visit.

Photo of hammock

For me, going home is like rereading a favorite book: There are no surprises and I already know all the characters. But there is something so soothing about thumbing through the same dog-eared pages, falling into rhythm with the familiar words and phrases, and, more than anything, reacquainting myself with my favorite characters.

Photo with dad circa 1995

My dad is the hero of this story, and Father’s Day was the reason for my visit. As his only daughter, I can’t image how terrifying it must have been to watch me accelerate through adolescence, push through the tangle of my teenage years, leave home for college and city life, move into my first apartment, apply for jobs, graduate… He has always been there to offer guidance, or just to listen, as I continue to get lost between the lines of my own story.

From day one, he’s loved me more than any man ever could.

Photo 1st picture with dad

He supported my city, long before we ever knew I’d live here…

Photo of Dad in Red Sox hat

Told me where to go to find my heart’s closest desire…

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And still keeps me well-stocked with my favorite coffee.

Photo of Wawa coffee

He’s kept his faith in me unwavering, even when I doubted myself…

Photo grad card from dad

And has always been there to catch me if I fall.

Photo beach with dad

Every time I go home, to the same house where my dad grew up, I am reminded of how beautiful my childhood was. But this story I’m writing has only gotten better with age. In devoting his life to taking care of his family, my dad has taught me that there is no greater measure for success than happiness. And he could not have raised a happier, or more grateful, little girl.

Boston: Where the unimaginable is a guarantee

Last weekend,  Boston celebrated its 43rd annual Gay Pride Parade.  Participants and onlookers of all ages gathered on the beautiful June day to promote equality and celebrate sexual diversity.

Photo of Pride Parade 2013

Half-dressed marchers danced to the beat of Top 40,  “Queers of Yesteryear” rolled by on carriages, and fully robed Wiccans blessed a few lucky bystanders.

Photo Queers of Yesteryear

This was my first time attending Pride. Both the atmosphere and the energy made me think of what the Mummers Parade of Philadelphia must have looked like in its prime.

Photo of Mummers Parade

Courtesy of WeSellFineArt.com

Another highlight of the day includes the participation of NBA player Jason Collins, the first male US athlete in a major professional sport to come out as gay. Jason came out just this past April, and walked alongside Congressman Joe Kennedy (his former college roommate) in the parade on Saturday.

Photo of Jason Collins at Pride Parade

Courtesy of CBS News

As I mentioned, there was an electric energy that reverberated throughout the crowd. Despite the mass numbers of attendees, there was an intimate sense of community that united us all amid the festivities. Massachusetts was the first state in the US to legalize same-sex marriage with the Goodridge v. Department of Public Health Supreme Court ruling in 2004. And Boston’s been celebrating ever since.

Photo of Boston Pride Parade

I am proud to be part of a city that is so unquestionably, outwardly, and genuinely accepting. In this, we are truly a unique part of the country; achieving such a level of inclusion is still viewed as unimaginable to much of the country. So while everyone else struggles to catch up, come join our party. Boston Pride is proof that there is room enough for everybody.

Books and the Big Apple

Photo of NYC

Last weekend, I attended BookExpo America in New York City. BEA is the premier book publishing event in North America, bringing together 20,000 publishers, authors, agents, bookstore owners, and librarians. The original purpose of the event was to give bookstores a chance to order books for the upcoming season. Now, the event has grown tremendously and serves as an opportunity for publishers to strike deals with buyers, create buzz about new and forthcoming titles, and showcase their authors. It was my first time attending, and only one of the few professional book events I’ve ever attended.

Spanning three levels, plus conference rooms, industry professionals stuffed themselves beneath the roof of the Javits Center. Between meetings and conferences, much of the day was spent waiting in winding lines between exhibits for galleys or advanced reading copies (ARCS) of highly anticipated new titles, hoping there will be enough left, and that the author will be there to sign.

For me, this event was a great opportunity to talk with other members of the book industry, but mostly to meet book lovers from all over the country. Highlights from my trip include:

This billboard, upon arrival. Thank you, Penguin.

Photo of billboard

A signed copy of TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, one of my favorite authors.

Photo of signed book

Getting to chat with him was a pleasure as well. His sister has the same name as me!

Walking around the city and browsing an outdoor market (another item on my bucket list).

Photo of market on 40th St

Finding this awesome, antique cigarette tin at the market.

Photo of cigarette tin

And this is, overall, measures the success of my day.

Photo of ten books

We all know about the news in recent years about the dying book business. However, in this Forbes article, Steve Cohen discusses the “contagious optimism” that radiated throughout the conference, claiming that with its embrace of technology and innovation, the book industry might just save itself. I am hopeful for my industry as well, and looking forward to attending BEA next year!