Closing a chapter

The last weekend of summer is upon us. On September 1, Boston will make the “great migration.” Homes will appear to have regurgitated their furniture onto the streets as inhabitants play musical chairs and move to new apartments in the city. At the same time, all the students will come pouring back and clog the city’s arteries with their moving trucks and unnecessary amounts of dorm “necessities.”

This is the first September of my life that I will not return to school. I graduated last December, and still cannot believe that chapter of my life is over. Watching all the students come come marching (or grumbling) back to academic obligations makes me realize how much I miss school.

Photo of the Baldwin School

Let’s be real, I knew I’d miss school the minute my final class period ended. Being handed my diploma was like sticking a knife through my day planner. I’ve always loved school, from beginning to end and everything in between.

Since I went to a Catholic grade school, “back to school” never entailed shopping for clothes, but it did mean decorating and wrapping my textbooks in brown paper bags, and, of course, purchasing a new set of Gel pens. High school meant pouring over my reading lists for the upcoming year, and reading half of them before the term even began. My high school years were filled with dance parties in the hallway, dress up days, scavenger hunts, ugly blazers, Slip ‘n Slides on the soccer field, ringing gongs, and a plethora of other fun and bizarre traditions that can only be understood if you attended an all girls high school.

Baldwin Gates decorated

At the same time, high school was serious business –sleepless nights, endless term papers, day-long exam periods, and so many “well-rounded” extra-curriculars that we all graduated as perfect spheres. I was a well-oiled machine by the time I reached college, arriving early to every class, perched on the edge of my seat during lectures, fueling my excitement with cup after cup of coffee.

As much as I loved school, and continue to miss it now, graduating has given me the opportunity to do all sorts of things I wasn’t able to do before. For one, this blog. Two, starting to make a significant dent in my bucket list. A few successes from this summer include:

Writing 

I’ve been published!

Global Business Hub

Reading

I set out to read ten books this summer. Although this is a slight diversion from my original list, I will have completed a total of ten by the end of this weekend.

Girl With a Pearl Earring

We Live in WaterTinkersAnd the Mountains Echoes

TransAtlantic

AmericanahThis Is How You Lose HerThe Thing Around Your Neck

The Virgins

Hygiene and the Assassin

Discovering

Photo of kayaking on Charles RiverPhoto of NantucketPhoto of NYCPhoto Philly "LOVE"Photo of railroad tracks

And simply enjoying

Photo of hammockPoolsidePhoto cherry tomatoesMiacomet Beach

It’s been a beautiful summer, and I’m planning on making Labor Day the best weekend of summer yet. But each season brings new opportunities and possibilities. School or not, I’m ready to fall in love with my favorite season all over again.

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Tomatoes: A taste of home

Photo of vegetable garden

I’m so glad to be visiting home again. Besides getting to spend time with family and friends, I get to enjoy the bounty of my parent’s garden.  My attempt to grow my own indoor garden this summer was less than successful…

Before

Photo basil plant

After

Photo basil plant -now

Now that I’m home, I look forward to going outside every morning to pick tomatoes for my breakfast. And lunch. And dinner.

Photo vegetable garden

My options include Sweet Million cherry tomatoes, Brandywines, Scarlet Reds, and Roma Plums –all equally delicious. I have to stop myself from eating them right off the bush.

Photo cherry tomatoesPhoto cherry tomatoesPhoto roma plum tomato

I usually grab a handful of basil as well.

Photo basil plant

I’ve added tomatoes to my eggs in the morning, and on salads for lunch.

Photo tomato salad

Juicy tomatoes are an essential ingredient to guacamole (recipe from a California-native below).

Photo guacamole

Or I eat them plain, perfect just as they are.

Photo cherry tomatoes

Becca’s Best Guacamole:

Please note, this will be the most popular item at your party. All ingredients are to excess, but some flexible guidelines below:

  • Avocados (as many ripe ones as you can find at the store)
  • Tomatoes (as many as you can pick from the garden)
  • Fresh-chopped garlic (approximately 2 cloves)
  • Lemon juice (squeezed from one lemon)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

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

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.44.56 AM

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

Goals for summer and beyond

Photo of kayaking on Charles River

Dreaming of summer

This will be my first summer in Boston where I’m no longer in school, and I can’t believe how much time I have on my hands. I feel like I’m at a good point in my life to share some of my thoughts, my writing, and the things I love. I hope you’ll join me as I learn my way through my twenties, reading between the lines.

I’ve compiled a list of things I would like to try/do/see this summer –both in and out of Boston. These objectives are certainly not limited to this list, nor do I have to check off every empty box. This is more of a flexible list of hopefully achievable goals.

Summer 2013 bucket list:

  • Write something everyday. Even if it’s just a thought or a Tweet
  • Post to this blog at least once per week
  • Go kayaking on the Charles River AGAIN (photo from last summer above)
  • Spend as much time as possible with my amazing friends
  • Reconnect with old friends
  • Go to a wine tasting
  • Discover some awesome new restaurants and bars
  • Wander through outdoor markets on the weekends
  • Soak up some culture at local museums, parks, festivals…
  • 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
  • Find a few beautiful new places to run
  • Read. Lots of articles, blogs, and at least 10 books
  • Do outdoor yoga
  • Grow my indoor garden with potted plants and herbs (and keep them alive…)
  • Take a class: An art class, computer workshop, or even a webinar on finance management
  • Discover some new bookstores (preferably indie and perfectly charming)
  • Walk everywhere and spend as much time outdoors as possible
  • Get completely lost visiting a place I’ve never been before
  • Have several deep and meaningful conversations with the people I love
  • Do some traveling: Already booked to visit my family twice this summer
  • Take a few moments each day to bask in perfect happiness

I definitely hope to carry many of these goals and habits over into the fall: Write regularly, cook creatively, discover curiously, and spend quality time with friends and family —to name a few. But for now, I’ve got my sights set on summer.