Friday, December 26, 2014

Christmas Gifts 2014

I know, I know. It's been an extremely long time since I've blogged. I still read many blogs, but I just fell out of love with writing them, and I got so lazy about taking photos, and I just didn't have a lot of time anyway (with four classes, twelve hours of work, a daily commute, and running a publishing club).
It's not the New Year yet, but I would love to get back into the swing of things. I'm still working on my Thirty Before Thirty list and I come up with blog ideas left and right. So here I am, re-opening Pennies & Paper with one of the most basic, simple, and narcissistic of posts: a Christmas Gift "Haul". I sort of did one of these last year for Christmas Eve and Day, mixing it with event and outfit photos. But this year I'll split it up: gifts now, outfits and events later (and I am SO pleased with my outfits xD).
Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
First, a few disclaimers. This sort of post goes super well with beauty and/or fashion bloggers, or with vloggers. I am neither, but since I'm a mixture/lifestyle blog and harbor a secret desire to be a model I've decided it's appropriate. I also have an alterior motive: I'm writing thank you cards today and, even if I don't specify who gave me what, this will help me properly appreciate each gift and figure out what to write about them. And finally, I am not trying to brag. I am just eternally grateful for my family members giving me gifts on top of everything elese--material and otherwise--that they give me every day.
On to the goodies--chronologically, of course.
Pre-Christmas
This year I bought a few things close enough to Christmas that I'm considering them gifts for myself. I also had a Secret Santa with friends--so much fun and good snacks and clever, thoughtful gifts :)
Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
When I bought tea gifts and my daily tea (Second Flush Darjeeling) I also picked up a little tin of a DavidsTea seasonal, Santa's Secret. The Alex and Ani bracelet came about because my work gave me 40% off three Alex and Anis; I had none, and I wanted to buy two for gifts anyway, so I'm starting myself off with this Plume Feather Wrap (and I got Mom one as well, check it out on Instagram!). As for the beauty products, I used my points from my Birchbox account to get Mom part of her gift. The TokyoMilk Lip Exlixir in Salted Caramel was to earn me extra points with a code, and after spending $35 I got the Mystery Sample Pack for free, and it turned out to be a nice-smelling Catherine Malandrino Eau De Parfum and Paula's Choice Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum. As for my Secret Santa gift, it's still in-transit from the interwebs, but my friend got me these super perfect Quote Studs (can't wait to wear them!). I also found two free books at the Secret Santa. My work also gave me two movie passes. Finally, a few months ago my mom gave me an early gift of six boxes of whole wheat pasta...so I wouldn't starve, of course. So thoughftul xD

Christmas Eve
In last year's blog posts I mentioned that we spend Christmas Eve with my mom's parents and sister. We did that again this year, going to church and then my aunt's for delicious food, followed by gifts. My grandparents and aunt good and truly spoiled me.
Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
From my aunt I got the festive Bell Bracelet, which I wore the rest of the holiday. She also got me the cute Santa Ornament for the little fake tree I bought for my apartment. And then the real kicker was the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (or, as Maura likes to call it "Padagucci" xD). She picked out a gorgeous cobalt blue one for me, and it will be percect for skiing :)
Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
My grandparents really outdid themselves and got me a new camera! I wasn't expecting to actually get this, although my dad had me doing research on what camera I would want next (I've had my D40 for six years and have long wanted an upgrade). And if I did get it, I was expecting a used body. But they bought me a brand-new kit, with a new Nikon D5300 body, 18-55mm lens, a 16GB memory card, and all the trappings. So in love with this, and have been playing around with all my new options and settings since...already it's doing so much better with low lighting and my Sigma lens than my D40 did!
Christmas Day
On Christmas Day we do stockings and family gifts, as well as gifts later in the day with my dad's family.
Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
There's something so fun about stockings, and I love that my parents always take the time to fill ours with a mix of yummy, fun, and useful things. (Side note: I only realized this year that many families have a stocking for everyone, and not just us kids. Oops!) This year I got a Portable Power Bank for charging my phone, hand warmers, gum, cough drops, and (a perennial favorite) Sour Patch kids.

Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
For family gifts, my parents got me way too much: a T-Fal Frying Pan, Mini Jambox Speakers, two Yoga Blocks (which I nearly bought for myself a few weeks ago...Santa must have swayed me otherwise ;)), and a beautiful Max Studio Sweater Dress (Mom has many dresses from them and I always love them). My brother spoiled me with a pair of gorgeous purple Ray Ban Sunglasses. (I've aquired quite a few sunglasses in the past few years and really need to get in the habit of wearing them regularly. Does anyone have any fun, safe display ideas for sunglasses.)
The last family gift is not pictured here: tickets to see U2 in concert later this year! I can't get over this. U2 is a band I grew up hearing and that has had a huge influence on my life...I even wrote my college essay about listening to U2 in cars in Vermont! (Thank you thank you thank you, parents and Santa and my uncle who got the tickets for us :D)
Pennies & Paper Blog | Christmas Gifts 2014
At Christmas dinner, we only do gifts from godparents (because there are just too many of us!). My uncle gave me this simple but stunning Moon Necklace. It's very me and I cannot wait to wear it! My aunt, who is not my godmother but picks out my gifts, likes delicate, beautiful things just as much as I do :)
I also received some money, which I will be using to pad out my Roth IRA bucket in my savings--I haven't opened an actual Roth yet because I have a minimum I need first, but I'm getting very close and this will help!
I am glad that, now that I'm older (adult, technically, ick), my gifts are more significant and useful--and I hope the gifts I chose for other people were successful in that regard as well! How was your Christmas/Yule/Kwanza/etc.? If you have a gift post I would love to read it, so please post it in the comments!
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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Reasons I'll Never Be a Fashion Blogger (But I Will Try, Anyway)

One--rather, two--of the best things about my apartment are the boundaries of the property. On one side is a wooden fence; to the back is a cement wall. Both are ideal backdrops for portraits (and I used them for my roommates headshots the other day) but they also remind me how much I would love to be a fashion blogger. All those beautiful photos and impeccable clothes and never-awkward faces escape me. But that doesn't mean I won't take photos of myself in whatever I think I look decent in and claim it's an outfit post.



After taking my roommates headshots, I convinced her to get a few of me in my current favorite dress (It's from Target. I know, right???).



The best way I know to look happy and normal in photos is to be silly. And take about five million shots so enough turn out okay.



But silly faces make me happy. As do sunflowers.



And sometimes, you do have to force yourself to laugh.






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Saturday, September 6, 2014

A Month of Instagram: August 2014

I know, I know: I've been completely MIA. With the end of summer and the start of school (consisting of moving into an apartment, working twelve hours a week, going to five class, running a publishing organization, and learning how to cook/feed myself) I've been swamped. I won't even go into all the craziness my weekend holds--and all of it is for school or house prep. But I suppose I knew what I was signing up for!

Well, in any case, I'm back. I very much missed my blog but I still don't have much time until next weekend, so I'm going back to my roots: a month of Instagram! (I still can't believe it's September already.)


Left to Right: For me, August started with a vacation that included: Reading on a sunny beach <> Yoga on top of mountains <> Lake sunsets <> More yoga on top of mountains!


Left to Right: Looking back on Boston during a camp field trip (we hiked with my six-year-olds!) <> Saying goodbye to my Uncle Hank--he bought these necklaces in Egypt for most of the women in the family; this is my grandmother's <> Camp is over! <> Celebrating my nana and grandpa's 60th anniversary :)

I hope everyone had a lovely August and is surviving school so far!

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Reasons I Make My Bed Every Morning

Reasons I Make My Bed Every Morning | Pennies & Paper Blog

For years, I avoided making my bed. In hindsight, it was strange that I would do so since at my grandmother's house it was expected, but at home I left my sheets and pillows and stuffed animals in a crazy pig-pile mess all day. I didn't see the point in forcing my bed look to look all nice and neat--no one was going to see it, and I would just be un-making it at the end of the day anyway.

But then, I went to college, and I didn't have a nice comfy couch and armchairs to hide in all day. I found myself sitting on my bed a lot, and all my newly-formed acquantainces would hang there with me. So it just made more sense to make it each morning, because who knew what the day would bring? 

Throughout the summers now, and winter, and all the breaks, I am still making my bed in the morning. Perhaps I get up at noon, or perhaps it's super rushed and messy. I've since realized (more accurately, I was enlightened by Admiral William H. McRaven's commencement speech for the University of Texas) that making my bed has more benefits than simply providing me a place to sit and watch Netflix.

// I start the day with an accomplishment.

This is the point made by Admiral McRaven in his address: "If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another." I've truly taken this idea to heart. If I know I have a tough day ahead of me, or the day turns a little sour, I can always remember that I sucessfully made my bed that morning.

// It's something I have true control over.

When I don't have control, or I don't feel I have control, I get very anxious. But with my bed, I can pull out all the wrinkles, arrange my pillows and stuffed animals--various gifts from various family members--and know exactly when I have completed the task. 

// A flat, organized bed gives me a place to put things during the day.

If I'm sorting my books or cleaning my closet, a clean bed gives me a place off the floor to organize items until they can be put away.

// I can properly display the quilt my grandmother made for me.

It's made of lots of awesomely-patterned fabrics and I've had it since I was little. Even if it's not totally my style, my quilt is very cool and was a time-consuming project made with love.

// My bed can become a little oasis of zen when I need it.

If I get overwhelmed in the day, I can run up to my room, and plop down on my quilt. Naps, deep breathing exercises, or reading can then ensue.

// Making my bed is the first step to my bedroom becoming Tumblr-famous.

Obviously, this is the most important. All of those epic bedrooms in log cabins with mountain views and antlers on the walls? Nearly all of them have neatly tucked bedspreads of epic design. So clearly, making my bed will transform my tiny blue room into the perfect Tumblr post.

Of course, there are always those who will argue against wasting the time spent pulling those sheets up each day. But for the foreseeable future, I will keep on making my bed for my productivity, sanity, and potential stardom xD

Do you make your bed every day? Why do you think it's important (or not)?

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Month of Instagram: July 2014

I cannot believe that it's August already! I'm currently on vacation with my family, enjoying some "down" time. Truthfully, this is the most active I've been in a while--swimming, hiking, walking, kayaking, yoga, stretching, lots of card games, and laughs--and it feels awesome. There are lots of stressful things coming up (paying rent and moving to my apartment for my SENIOR YEAR are topping the list) but I've had quite a few accomplishments. So far this year I've knocked three things off of my Thirty Before Thirty list, I've kept up with tracking my spending, I've mostly kept within my budgets, I've been trying to spend a little more time reading, I've filled a box with clothes to definitely get rid of (and another box to maybe get rid of), I've nearly hit my savings goals for the summer, and I'm researching beginning a Roth IRA. But I'm getting up early tomorrow to go hike Camel's Hump, one of New England's 4000 footers and Vermont's third tallest mountain. So I'll only be posting an abbreviated July Instagram, with four photos.


From left to right: A little bird (yellow-throated vireo?) that I tried to rescue. Unfortunately, he did not make it even though I found a clinic that tried to help him, but I enjoyed spending time with him and admiring how beautiful he was. <> Another sad story, the tree that had been outside my window since we moved in was cut down by our town. I miss it every day. <> I started going to the yoga classes at our local gym, using my free membership (thank you camp job!). Feels so good to get back into a flow, and I've been bringing my mother, too! <> A seven-plus hour hike up and down Mount Washington gave me incredible views and let me check it off my Thirty Before Thirty.



One more, non-Instagram photo: I've hit over 100 followers on Bloglovin'! That was also on my Thirty Before Thirty, because I never thought I'd hit it so quickly--upping my goal to 200 now :)

There was also quite a lot of crazy weather, some smaller hikes, work updates, shopping and fashion (including my first-ever jumpsuit!), and lots of pictures with my cat, Cedric. Check them all out on my Instagram feed, and if you follow me let me know!

What did you accomplish in July? What are your plans for tomorrow?

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