Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#Activism & #LinkUpTheLove


For a little while they were everywhere. All over our Twitter feeds especially, but also Instagram, and Facebook, and then in the news articles about them. Hashtags, ones that had a social and political messages, briefly took over the internet, as viral things do by definition. #BringBackOurGirls. #YesAllWomen. Even, years ago now, #Kony2012.

I have very mixed feelings about this "Hashtag Activism." On the one hand, I cannot look down on anything that informs an ignorant public or supports the finding of a solution. On the other, using hashtags, however widespread and popular, is necessarily distanced from the issue it discusses.

The case of #Kony2012 is probably the best example of the negatives. I distinctly remember my emotions when I came across that particular story, how I was enraged and worked up and wanting to do something about it. So I read articles and read Tweets. But I quickly forgot about it, especially in the light of the controversies around the founder.

Jump to 2014, and a similar thing happened. I, of course, would love to do anything to rescue the poor girls and women in Nigeria. And the grieving, worried families with no control were undoubtedly more desperate to do anything to help. But it died down quickly, as did #YesAllWomen (which  I wholeheartedly participated in). Hashtags are viral, and viral does not equate lasting.

Still, how much can we really do? I personally don't know how to change policies or incite a government to action. Maybe, the best I can do is return to Twitter and read the remnant characters of these "movements."

What do you think of Hashtag Activism? Check out the Wikipedia page here, or read different viewpoints here, here, here, or here.

Buttons and Birdcages

I have a handful of positive thoughts to send out this week!

My Weekly Love

For Monique: Thanks for helping me clean out my closet, and also deal with my endless texts about which clothes to buy or wear.

For the creators of the Sowa Market: Thank you thank you thank you for founding such a wonderful weekend event. I want to go every Sunday and stay all day!

For that one vendor at Sowa this past Sunday: Thank you for saying you loved my hair. I know you were probably just trying to get me to buy that pleated skirt (and I very nearly did!) but in any case I appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge a like-headed person--your curls were very nice as well :)

For Francesca: You drive us into Boston, use your father's parking space so we can gorge ourselves in the North End, and give me back massages whenever I ask even though I'm very annoying about it <3

For Amanda: That mid-day coffee yesterday was just what I needed. Mondays at camp are hard and I was crashing fast--coffee saved the journalism club I was leading from becoming a total mess!

For my campers: First off, you let me be crazy. Second, yesterday everyone noticed I had makeup on, though the only reason for that was being too lazy to fight with remover-resistent liner. Even if the comments weren't always positive (case in point: "Miss Julia, you look scary"), I'm flattered to realize you guys pay enough attention to me to spot such a subtle difference and to care about it.
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Friday, July 25, 2014

The Friday Five: 5 Free Things to Do in Boston in Summer 2014

5 Free Things to Do in Boston in Summer 2014 | Pennies & Paper Blog

The city of Boston and I have a bit of a strange relationship. It was always just that place my family and I went to for museums and events. When it came time to choose colleges, Boston was the last place I wanted to be. Now I go to school in the heart of Boston. Even in the summer, when school is done and I am at home, I find myself making frequent trips into the city for countless reasons.

One of the best things about Boston are the endless free events, and the summer months are just as full of them! Obviously, since I don't currently live in the city I have to spend time and money going in and out, but it's still very much worth it. Here are five that I'm particularly excited about :)

5 Free Things to Do in Boston in Summer 2014 | Pennies & Paper Blog

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Thar She Blows--How to Have the Best Whale Watch Experience

Cape Ann Whale Watch

Several weeks ago, on Sunday July 6th, my family took a day trip to Gloucester, MA for a whale watch! We used to take these out of Boston, and I remember them being quite fun (although I also have a distinct memory of someone on the deck above us getting very sick...). Mom found a Groupon for the Cape Ann Whale Watch so that the normal price of $48 was discounted to the $30s.

The whale watch lasted over five hours. The boat started in Gloucester, and then drove an hour and a half, all the way down to Provincetown, on the very end of the Cape! We were having a lot of luck finding animals, so they gave us a little more time on the water before heading back. Three whale species put on a little show for us while we were out there--finback whales, which are the second largest creatures on earth (next to the blue whale); minke whales, a smaller baleen whale; and humpbacks. We also drove through a large pod of dolphins--they were wave-riding and jumping on all sides of the boat! Afterwards, we hit the town--as much as you can on a Sunday night when everything is closed.

The Cape Ann Whale Watch prides itself on being educational. A marine biologist stood at the bow of the boat, pointing out whales when she saw them and talking about the different species. Staff members went around with maps of our route, pieces of baleen to look at, and whale-based matching games. On the way back, the upper deck became home to a play area for the young kids when a staff member pulled out a bag of toy sea creatures.

There are many different companies that have whale watches and many different outcomes of these trips. but I highly recomend everyone try one. Read below for my photos and tips for having the best experience possible! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Friday Five: Some Link Love

I had planned a nice review of five iPhone apps I'm currently a bit infatuated with, but that will be moved to next week in light of the fact that immediately after I get off work today I am headed for New Hampshire to cross off another of my Thirty Before Thirty list--hike Mount Washington! Instead, I will leave you with a few links that I have been enjoying immensely.

// After months of nagging, I finally followed a friend's suggestion to listen to the overly clever, quirky, and nearly perfect podcast Welcome to Night Vale. I listen to the twenty minute installments when I need an intelligent pick-me-up but am too lazy to decide on a book--and I've got a lot to catch up on, since the first of the episodes was released on June 15, 2012 and the series is up to number 50!

// I think I missed a calling to be a panda caretaker, but I try to make up for it by watching as many panda videos as possible. This lovely snippet of roly-poly black-and-white fuzzballs tumbling down a slide is endlessly squee-worthy!

// My college is one of the nerdiest out there, and full of both literary and film geeks on top of that. Several of my classmates have teamed up to create The Gathering Storm, a Marader Era fan film complete with accurate costumes and permits to film in a Massachusetts castle. Shooting has wrapped, but their Facebook page is full of behind-the-scenes goodies--I cannot wait for this to be released!

// My tiny, triangular closet is an ongoing struggle for me. I take inspiration from ideas like the capsule wardrobe, but since it is unlikely I will be able to pare down my clothes that much, I also look for sneaky ways to organize my closet to fit the maximum number of items possible.

What ideas or quotes or videos caught your eye this week? I'd love to see them!
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Pinkaboos Book Tour, Review, & Giveaway

Helping Children Fight Fear Since May 2014!

Be Sure to Check out the Fearless Giveaway Below! Entry is by comment!
(see details below this post)

The Pinkaboos Book Tour | Pennies & Paper Blog

I'm very excited to announce that this is my very first book tour! I adore books (obviously) and over the years I've decided that I would like to go into children's book publishing at some point, so the Pinkaboos book tour was a perfect fit! Don't forget to enter the giveaway by commenting!

The Pinkaboos Book Tour | Pennies & Paper Blog
Pinkaboos: Bitterly and the Giant Problem
by Laura Gosselin & Jake Gosselin
May 27, 2014 by Zeta Comics
Goodreads || Barnes & Noble

This is going to be the best year ever for best friends Bitterly, Abyssma and Belladonna as they are starting a new school year at Fright School! As young frights they'll learn how to chase aware the fears of little human girls by entering their dreams and teaching them how to overcome nightmares. 

But when Bitterly, the most promising fright, is faced with a school bully and some nightmares of her own, she finds help from the last place she expected--the little girl whom she has sworn to protect. 

Pinkaboos is an empowering new chapter book series for girls and young readers (6-9) that presents the challenges of childhood through the thrilling and magical world of the Pinkaboos. 

Praise for the Pinkaboos chapter books from the author of Monster High: "Facing fears has never been so much fun. The Pinkaboos are ah-dorable!" -Lisi Harrison, author of The Clique, Alphas, Monster High, Pretenders.


In my opinion, there can never be enough children's books with a positive message and a good vocabulary. One of my biggest pet peeves is beginner chapter books that dumb down the language and simplify the story to boot. Kids are very intelligent, and a book that is a little difficult will challenge them to look up the few words they don't know, or reread those plot-driven sentences that are a little more complex. This first book in the Pinkaboos series has neither issue, I am happy to say!

The plot and characters are simple enough for younger readers to follow but there are plenty of details to keep older readers interested. Each character has defined characteristics that are clearly laid out but also give some depth. The plot focuses on real-life issues of fears and bullying, with positive ideas for how to overcome those issues. And the vocabulary is perfect--while some words may be a little difficult for a six-year-old, the sentence context is usually very clear and they can also "grow into" the book a little bit. I love the little cliffhanger at the end of the story--the Pinkaboos characters will turn into a great series, with tons of options for plots and new ideas.

The little details about how the frights enter dreams, use their magic, and eat insect pie are a delicate mish-mash of Monsters, Inc. and Harry Potter, and it is something that I was happily surprised to find worked really well. Overall, the book is super cute and quirky, which I love!

The main drawback for me was the heavy-handed gendering. It is aimed at young girls, which is clear from the color scheme and characters, and, though I understand that from a marketing perspective, I am always on the lookout for diverse and non-gender-specific stories that boys and girls can learn from together. It isn't to say that boys can't enjoy this story, only that they are much less likely to given society's current highly-gendered norms.

Still, the first Pinkaboos book was a refreshing read that will challenge beginners but reinforce positive lessons and vocabulary for more advanced readers.

★ ★ ★  ☆ Good

Disclaimer: I received a free digital copy of this book for review. All opinions are my own.

About the Authors

The Pinkaboos Book Tour | Pennies & Paper Blog
Laura Gosselin - After receiving her undergraduate degree in English from Cal State University Long Beach in California, Laura Gosselin completed her MFA at Stony Brook Southampton. She has since served as a reporter for a local newspaper in New York, an editor for a national magazine in Vancouver, Canada, as well as senior copywriter for a marketing firm. She currently lives in southern California with her husband and daughter where she works as a creative consultant for Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.

The Pinkaboos Book Tour | Pennies & Paper Blog
Jake Gosselin completed his undergraduate degree in Anthropology at the University of Toronto before heading to New York where he finished his MFA in English and Writing at Stony Brook/Southampton College of Long Island University. He currently lives in Southern California where he works as an author, freelance writer and website producer for FourSeasons.com.







And finally...who doesn't love a giveway?


The Pinkaboos Book Tour | Pennies & Paper Blog

** AWESOME GIVEAWAY **

One lucky reader will win a Kindle along with a Kindle copy of The Pinkaboos!

For a chance to win the Kindle, share your best anecdote on how your child overcame fear: Simply share in the comments how your little hero conquered their biggest fear or helped someone else conquer fear.

In addition to the Kindle, each blog on tour will be giving away 5 copies of The Pinkaboos: Bitterly and the Giant Problem just for leaving a general comment below!

Don’t forget to leave us a way to contact you if you win :)

Where to Purchase:

Connect with The Pinkaboos team:

And don't forget to follow along with the rest of the tour!

What is currently your favorite children's book? Do you consider it empowering or does it deal with overcoming fear?

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

#LinkUpTheLove Tuesday


Buttons and Birdcages
It's been far too long since I've posted one of these! My mother, when she read my previous #LinkUpTheLove post, mentioned that she said it seemed silly to write about people who might not ever see my thoughts. She is definitely not wrong--something about that seems counterintuitive. But I realized this is more for myself--knowing I'm going to write this post reminds me to be observant of others' kind actions--as well as posting some "role model" ideas for my readers. I hope you all agree and will write posts of your own!

My list this week once again reflects the fact that most of my time is spent at work or at home. I need to get out more, and meet new people to write about :D

My Weekly Love

For my dad: Last weekend he helped me start building my bed frame, so I can have storage space under my futon next year. He has also agreed to help me clean my room and thin out my room, two tasks which fill me with intense anxiety.

For my hiking buddies: Mary, my friend-from-kindergarten-turned-college-roommate, and her father have been inviting me for hikes the past few weekends. We also have plans to hike Mount Washington this coming weekend (something on my Thirty Before Thirty list!). It's just so nice to have people to explore nature with :)

For the parents of my campers who take the time to talk to me: I love learning how I can better help your kids, and I love telling you their accomplishments of the day. Thank you for recognizing all the time and energy I spend on them--it helps me remember why I work at camp on those tougher days.

For the yoga instructor: On Sunday I attended my first yoga class in ages. I used my free gym membership (thank you camp job!) and went with Mary and my mother. After so many months of not going to any yoga classes, the yoga fitness class was a great re-introduction. And to top it off, the instructor helped correct some of my poses and said my wild thing pose was beautiful, which means a lot to me!

Who would you like to extend some love to this week? 
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Monday, July 7, 2014

A Month of Instagram: June 2014

Whoever claims summer is for relaxation is wrong. Fun, certainly, but my crazy June proves that true relaxation was far out of my grasp. And it's only just beginning! Between working at camp, saying goodbye to my best friend as she goes to Uganda for the rest of the summer, attempting personal projects, and trying to find the time to take a few moments, I've been exhausted. So if I'm a bit MIA in the blogosphere--now you know why!
June Instagram | Pennies & Paper Blog

From left to right: Getting distracted from closet-cleaning and experimenting with remixes. <> One afternoon I went back to my old internship to be on a panel for the current interns. I ran into my manager, who gave me a copy of the (published!) book I had worked endlessly on--I last saw this as a manuscript :D <> My road got repaved! (Not nearly as exciting if you never lived on my so-old-it-was-purple road.) <> I've started sending (and, as in this picture, receiving) snail mail! It's so much fun :)

June Instagram | Pennies & Paper Blog

From left to right: Passing the time on my commute to my job at school. <> The start of camp! <> Cedric was a staple this month. <> Several weekends I went on hikes with family and friends--with some yoga at the top :)

I can't deny that I've been putting on good, proper blog posts. But even posting these short ones do make me feel much better, and that I've accomplished something! How was your June? What are you looking forward to in July?
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Link Up the Love Tuesday #3

Buttons and Birdcages

It's only been a few days since I last posted, but it feels like months. Camp started this week, and even though we have about 30 kids in the whole camp (when normally we have about 130) I'm still exhausted. All of the love I'm giving today is around that.

My Weekly Love:

To my dad: For getting me a rearview mirror for my bike and attaching a rack so I can a.) be safe on the days I bike to work and b.) not have to wear my backpack and arrive like a horrible sweat monster.

To my mom: For buying me vegetarian and nut-free foods so I don't starve on those eight hour shifts (ones that really feel like ten or twelve hour shifts!).

To my brother: For leaving early on a few days so I don't have to bike every day.

To my immediate family and all my friends: Thank you for letting me take several-hour naps and for letting me vent about all the crazy things that happen in camp.

Hopefully, my body will adjust soon and I'll be able to do proper blog posts again--I have so many photos and drafts sitting on my computer! Posting this one really does make me feel like a human again :)
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