Monday, January 30, 2017

How I quit a horrible job and became a full-time writer

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I've been a writer since I got my first diary at age 10, but this is a story about how I made writing my full-time job.

I was working in a remote office as a sales rep for a dysfunctional videoconferencing company, along with one other person – a young guy who liked to goof off all day and meet women on Craiglist under the guise that our company was hiring. As I look back on this short-lived (three-months-long odyssey) job, I can see so much that was wrong with it – from the person who recruited me to the company itself, never mind my weird colleague.

First of all, the person that recruited me was someone I knew from the office building where I had worked previously in marketing and PR for a technology company. I had left that job to work in telecommunications sales, which was a blast! I made good money, but there was some channel conflict and issues with the technology working in my assigned territory.

Second, Recruiter-guy was in sales at a company that had some relationship with the videoconferencing company, which was trying to expand into the Boston area. This company still exists, I just checked, though I doubt they do anything with videoconferencing anymore since even the company they were reps for has been bought out. Besides, who can’t use Zoom, or Skype, or Facetime these days? I really don’t care to Internet-stalk them. I really don’t care at all because it has been almost 20 years since this happened.

The deal was that the videoconferencing company would hire two sales reps and sublet office space (illegally, I am sure) from Recruiter-guy’s company. Recruiter-guy told me it was a great opportunity. “You’ll love it! It’s a more professional position than selling cell phones! It’s a stepping stone. Blah blah blah.” At that time, I came to wonder if Recruiter-guy’s company was having financial problems and needed the additional income from renting out two offices (they were more like supply rooms or closets, but no need to split hairs).

No support

I took the bait job. It wasn’t until I drove to the home office for help with an RFP that I realized how truly dismal the situation was. Not only had we not had any training, we had no leads, no marketing support, and very little technical support, which I needed because I had no idea how to answer that RFP for one thing. For another thing, there weren’t any women in sales positions in that company. And another: we were expected to cold call basically out of the yellow pages. I wanted to tear my hair out. (I felt so naïve, but you don't know what you don't know.)

The day I walked out was the day I learned that the company was sending my colleague to a sales training, but not me. (I am not sure what they had planned for me but it may have had something to do with marketing because I had pointed out that we really could use some.)

Unequal treatment

I hadn’t been treated equally from the beginning. My closet office was smaller; I got the crappy RFP (which I had to drive to a Fedex drop off at 8 p.m. in the middle-of-nowhere, and ship overnight to have it arrive by the deadline, since the whole day I was at the company HQ I had to wait for the technical person to find time to help me answer it); and I was simply an outsider in the boys’ club.

I walked out

How I made writing my full-time jobIt was a Friday afternoon and I packed up all my personal stuff and called my boss. I was irate but I kept my cool as I told him I quit and why. He tried to tell me blah blah blah and I told him it doesn’t matter anymore. Goodbye. I noticed I was immediately shut out of the company network. “That’ll show her!” I’m sure he thought. But I had already removed any of the files I cared about from my laptop. I left the laptop with someone I knew and trusted at Recruiter-guy’s company (I wrote up a receipt and asked him to sign it) and walked out. Recruiter-guy wasn’t there that day and I don’t remember if I ever saw him again either, and at that point I am sure I didn’t care.

Lucky break

Now, I don’t recommend doing this. It’s irresponsible when you have bills to pay. However, I was single and I had money in the bank and I wasn’t afraid to get a temp job because I had previously found temping to be a good way to figure out what I wanted to do next. That was how I had switched careers from retail to technology several years prior.

It just so happened that I had been doing some occasional writing and editing for my mom, who had been working with DIGITAL on a consulting basis. Sometimes she had extra work and needed another pair of eyes.

She told me she had a few things she could use my help with, so that is what I did the following Monday. I started writing articles for a magazine, then datasheets, then customer testimonials. I wrote direct mail pieces and brochures, and once I wrote a software implementation manual. We worked with different organizations within DIGITAL and then expanded our horizons to design firms who needed writers. I stayed on, one project after another for three years, until...

Industry downturn

The technology industry was kind of volatile around 2000, and consulting felt a little precarious. I knew how to bid on work and we were plugged in to the agencies that helped us land projects. My mom decided she wanted to go back to corporate America, which she did, and left me to run things. (My least favorite parts were dealing with accounting and taxes.) It worked out fine for a couple of years, and I had gained a new client because I did work for the company my mom went to work for. But my bread-and-butter client, DIGITAL, was bought by COMPAQ and then HP. As the company headquarters moved further west (from Massachusetts to Texas to California), my projects started drying up. I still had a couple of clients, but skipping ahead past the part about my ugly divorce, they were not consistent enough to count on. One of them wasn't even a writing client: It was a company I did B2B telemarketing for (from home).

My detour

I decided I, too, should go back to corporate America.

Incidentally, that horrible job did not stain my resume, which lists “Relevant Experience” not “Entire History of My Working Life,” in which case I’d have to go all the way back to the time I worked as a busgirl at a long-out-of-business restaurant. My resume is only one page long. No one has time for more than that.

My point of re-entry was as an inside sales representative for a technology company, which led to more than 10 years of sales and marketing roles until I returned to writing.

I'll write about my career detour and how I came full circle to writing full time again in my next post.

xoxox, Carlie

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

A snow day for working parents

I was watching the weather last night because we were expecting a Nor'easter, and that can mean school closings and power outages, neither of which is conducive to working.

According to *AccuWeather,^ a nor'easter is a storm that mainly affects the northeastern part of the United States. These storms form along the East coast as warm air from over the Atlantic Ocean clashes with arctic cold to the north and west. A nor'easter gets its name from the northeasterly winds that blow in from the ocean ahead of the storm.

Skip to *what a snow day is like* for working parents.

The storm was gathering momentum

Yeah, so the weather looked bad. It reminded me of a shirt one of my friends had years ago that was a picture of a weather map with the words, "shitty," "shitty," "shitty," "shitty," repeated all over the entire region.

I went to bed. When my husband joined me, I was just checking online to see if the news station had posted any more delays or cancellations than what they had displayed scrolling across the TV screen during the news. They did not. I set my alarm for 6:00 a.m.

The dog needed to go out

4:09 a.m. one of the dogs' toenails click-click-clicking on our floor wakes me up. This dog is a very subtle asker, so basically click-click-click in the middle of the night means he has to go potty. (Our other dog didn't get up to go out all night or all day until almost 2:30 p.m., even though I invited him numerous times.)

I let click-click out and noticed the weather was horrible: windy with sleet or freezing rain (what is the difference, I wonder) whipping out of the sky. I looked on the online news site to see if any of my kids' schools were delayed or canceled. Not yet.

The school calls started coming just before 5 a.m.

I went back to sleep, and the phone rang at 4:54 a.m. It was our local school district superintendent telling us about a 2-hour delay. I texted my middle son to let him know. Then I looked on the news website again to check on my oldest's school (which is out of state, just across the line but distant enough that things are often significantly different), and saw the school cancellation notice. I took a screen shot and texted it to my son.Minutes later at 5:00 a.m., we got the call from his school, which was quite lengthy explaining the changing exam and professional day schedule for the rest of the week, which doesn't concern me much so I hung up, figuring he'd be listening to it.

Minutes later at 5:00 a.m., we got the call from his school, which was quite lengthy explaining the changing exam and professional day schedule for the rest of the week, which doesn't concern me much so I hung up, figuring he'd be listening to it.

I gave up trying to get back to sleep

6:15 a.m. Our local district superintendent called again to announce the school cancellation.

6:15 a.m., my youngest's alarm begins going off. And since he never wakes up, I leapt out of bed to shut it of before it woke up his brother in the adjoining room. "Do not get up. There's no school today," I told him. Because ironically, on the days the kids can sleep in, they don't.

I tried to go back to sleep, because four-and-a-half hours of uninterrupted sleep is really not conducive to an enjoyable or productive work day. I could not. Two-thirds of the kids were up so I figured I would just start my day. Why the schools couldn't have made the call last night (or why the dog can't wait to go out) is beyond me.

At least I didn't have to take a day off

It's a good thing I telecommute.

Today is a day just like any other day, except my whole family is here. Imagine bringing your whole family to your place of employment for a moment.

Okay, it's not that bad.

My kids are older now. Today they managed to cook some of their own food and not leave the kitchen a wreck. They spent far too much time on their electronics but so be it. I work with people outside of my immediate geography who have no sympathy or understanding for snow days. Thankfully, the power didn't go out and it wasn't too cold in our house. My youngest decided to teach himself how to play the ukelele, but I barely heard him. (I don't think my oldest studied for his Latin exam until after 6:00, though.)

One time when my kids were younger, one of their teachers said cheerfully, *"Enjoy the Snow Day,"* all I could think of was, Yeah right. I am sure you'll enjoy it! At least if you know ahead of time, you can work proactively the night before. Kids certainly don't understand the challenges of a *snow day,* until the days add up and they realize they'll be in school until late June.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Are political disagreements damaging your friendships?

Are political disagreements damaging your friendships?I originally published this story during our last presidential election (in 2012). It has been on my mind because four years later, nothing has changed – well, except maybe the insulting terms I'm seeing on social media.  Now in addition to "liar,"liar,” “idiot,” “loser,” “fool," we have "criminal" and "sociopath." It has become even worse after the inauguration. Just stop name-calling, people!

What are we teaching our kids? I'm trying to teach mine to learn how to love and forget how to hate. Like Ozzy Osbourne!

Crazy Train

Crazy, but that’s how it goes
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it’s not too late
To learn how to love
And forget how to hate.

Are political disagreements damaging your friendships?I printed out the lyrics to Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train.” I figured if my kids are going to shout this song in the car at the tops of their lungs, they should at least know the words. They initially heard the song from the TV commercial for a Honda Pilot, which is what we drive, thus considerable shouting occurs when we’re in transit.

Actually having lyrics in hand, my middle son decided to download the song on his iPod, during which he obtained a picture of Ozzy to go with it.

“Wow, Mom, is that really Ozzy Osbourne? He looks kinda scary. Is it really him singing the song?”

“Let me see. Yep. You know that song’s like, from the ’80s, right?

“Uh huh, so? He actually has a really good voice…”

“Yeah, he sure does. You can’t judge an album by its cover.”

“What’s an album?”

Social media unleashes the haters

The white house: who should I vote for?I caught myself humming the song a few times and it got me thinking about a couple of things. First, what’s up with all the haters who have emerged as we approach our next presidential election? I don’t even watch the news and only get two weekly newspapers, but with the omnipresence of social media, I’ve been assaulted with terms like “liar,” “idiot,” “loser,” “fool,” “bully,” “out of touch,” “moron,” “stupid,” “deception,” “omission,” “narcissism,” “sucks,” “hates,” “fears,” and “distorts.” The same words are used by every group against each other – millions of people, living as foes. Can’t people disagree respectfully: stay calm, not take things personally, criticize ideas, but not each other?

Come to think of it, this language is prevalent in religious conflicts, sporting events, or anytime people have a difference of opinion – even with things like dog breeds. Personally, I would be much more receptive to someone’s ideas if they were presented on their own merit and not simply as the assumed opposite of anything used to tear down the opposing view. Crazy, but that’s how it goes.

Some conflict is necessary

Second, the song reminds me of a question my youngest asked on the way home from camp during a break from “all aboard,” “ha ha ha ha” and “ay ay ay”: “What if Adam and Eve never ate the fruit from the tree?” Though the boys go to a Christian camp right here in town, the story about the tree in the Garden of Eden is common to many religions, including Judaism and Islam.

“I guess we’d all be walking around naked, for one thing…”

“What!” His older brothers perked up, one of them pulling his earbuds out.

“Well, we’d be naked, but we wouldn’t realize it. Naked would be the norm.”


“Seriously, boys. The fruit was from the tree of knowledge, right? So once they ate it, they became aware of things.”

“Oh, yeah…we heard about that part during message time.”

“And also, I guess everyone would get along with each other…there would be no conflict…uhm, competition. Hmmm,” I continued, thinking aloud, “I’m not sure how that would work. If there were no competition, how could there be any businesses…never mind that, what about sports?”

“Whaddaya mean?”

“Well, how could there be a football game without competition? Someone has to win and someone has to lose. “


“And no one’s gonna say, ‘be my guest, go right ahead and score that touchdown’…”

“Duh! That would be so stupid!”

“I know, right? But it can be friendly competition: no trash talk.”

“Sometimes there is, Mom.”

“Well, I know there is, but I also know your coaches don’t encourage it. I know they teach you to compete respectfully. Stay calm. Don’t take things personally, and don’t criticize the other team. No name-calling.”

“Duh, mom.”

“Don’t ‘duh’ me, honey. Not everyone in this world gets it. Sometimes it’s hard to remember in the heat of the moment. That’s why we have terms like ‘poor sport’ and ‘sore loser.’ ”

Maybe it’s not too late to learn how to love and forget how to hate.

What do you think: Can you disagree without insulting someone personally?

Have any of your friendships been damaged because of politics?

xoxox, Carlie






Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The guy on the train

I could write this story about the drunk guy with the goofy hat that sat in front of us on the train home last night. He and his female companion were picking and poking at each other like a couple of bratty three-year-olds except the scope of their potty words far exceeded that of three-year-olds. I would have liked to wash their mouths out with soap but my husband was concerned they might start fist fighting.

Why it's okay -- and even good -- to talk to strangers sometimes.They reminded us of our neighbor, who we refer to as "The Screamer," because of her drunken (I can only assume -- I have never heard a sober person swear as much as her) tirades on the phone to her boyfriend. Why he is still with her, I can't even imagine, but she's screaming the same name on the phone now as she was when we first moved into our house three-plus years ago (so again, I can only assume).

But this is not about the drunk guy with the goofy hat.

Taking the train to the Patriots gameThis story is about the guy who sat down next to me just as the train was pulling out of the station. We were on our way home from Gillette Stadium after the Patriots game the other night. Somehow it was a lot more crowded than it was on the way to the game, but maybe it's because on the way there, most people spent the entire 45-minute train ride waiting in line for the bathroom rather than sitting in their seats. It reminded me so much of a moving frat party. It even smelled like one. If you have ever been to a frat party, you would recognize the smell of stale beer on the floor. On the way home we had the added bonus of sticky floors, vomit, and puddles here and there (outside the bathroom and in some of the aisles).

My husband and I had taken a bench with three seats and started to reduce the number of layers we had on. Hats, scarves, and sweatshirt littered the seat between us. I was texting with my oldest to make sure he was home, or at least on his way since it was past midnight and he has to be home by 12:30 a.m. (And I would rather have him plan ahead to get home in time rather than speed or be late, which are the two choices he sometimes offers.)

A guy paused next to our bench seat. I couldn't pretend I didn't know he wanted to sit down so I moved over as far as I could next to my husband. Even as the guy sat down, he was so close I imagined my husband and I took up more than 2/3 of the bench. My husband had shoulder surgery so his arm has to be in a certain position so he really couldn't press himself against the window any more than he was.

I tried to be small as I continued texting with my son. He had watched the game at his girlfriend's house and gone home early because he was tired.

The guy started talking. Soon he and my husband were talking over me.

I found out the guy was from Canada. He had driven down for the weekend with his wife, who had found a seat diagonally behind us and fallen asleep. They were staying in Boston, which was the ultimate destination of the train.

I chimed in, "You don't sound like you're from Canada. What part?"

He was soft spoken and really didn't have any accent at all. "Ottawa."

Momentarily I thought Ottawa was a province, but no, it's a city like Toronto and Quebec. I probably would have known that if it wasn't past midnight and I hadn't just spent four hours or so in a cold football stadium. I told him about my online friend that lives in Sudbury, Ontario, which I gather is somewhere near Toronto because she goes to Blue Jays games.

We had a lengthy discussion about poutine. I Googled, and learned that there are many different kinds of poutine (french fries with cheese curds and gravy), and that the name comes from the québécois word for "mess."

I continued to try to figure out what cheese curds were. I think they're like mozzarella. The guy tried explaining it to me -- "No, it is not at all like cottage cheese" -- and to be honest it does not sounds that appetizing but it's increasing in popularity in the U.S. Rumor has it you can order poutine from the secret menu at KFC -- who knew?) I continued to Google as this guy and my husband discussed the differences between Canadian football and American football.

Then we got on the subject of bagels. I learned from the guy on the train that Montreal (not New York) as the best bagels. I didn't even know Montreal is famous for bagels, but apparently this is so. They are wood-fired as opposed to boiled. I Googled that, too. I love Wikipedia!

We talked about baseball and hockey a little and before we knew it, we were at our stop trying to figure out how to get off the train without stepping in the puddles and barf in one of the cars. We told the guy, "Enjoy the rest of your trip."

And then we found our truck and drove home. The end.

Have you talked to a stranger lately?

xoxox, Carlie

Friday, January 13, 2017

What it's like to telecommute when you're a mom

I telecommute. This means I work at home as a remote W2 employee, in contrast to a "work-at-home mom" (WAHM). Technically, I suppose I am a WAHM, but not in the sense that most people think of, in that I have a (direct sales) business. Nothing against direct sales because I did it for a while, and it was fun, but for several reasons I am no longer part of that scene. And freelancing is something else, too.

The upside of telecommuting

I am sure everyone who idealizes the telecommuting gig already can guess the upside, which includes saving time driving, getting dressed, doing hair and makeup and saving money on gas, clothes, extended childcare, and lunches out. You're right about all that. You don't have to miss work if there's a snow day or sick day. You might just work a little more reactively than proactively. However, when you telecommute, there are a lot of other things that happen before you can start your day job or that compete with your day job. The line between home and work can become blurry.

Parenting comes first, literally

I get up early every day with my high-school-aged sons (6:00 a.m. or earlier) to make sure they manage their bathroom time (since they are too modest (?) to won't share) and eat.

My youngest's alarm begins going off at 6:15 a.m. It usually continues until I send the dogs or his brothers in to rouse him, or I find a break in the morning routine to go upstairs and nudge him out of bed. Sometimes I have to pick him up and hold him until his legs touch the floor and are ready to support him, at which point I propel him out of his room towards either the bathroom or the breakfast table. One of his brothers is usually already gone by the time he gets up.

Of course, these are tasks that any parent might do -- no surprise here.

As an aside, my kids are old enough to forage for their own breakfast. I do it because I can. I want them to remember their mom being around for them during their childhoods. After all, the fact that I have kids is the primary reason I work at home and won't be shattering that glass ceiling anytime soon.

[bctt tweet="I chose to telecommute because I want my kids to remember their mom being around for them during their childhoods." username="carolineposer"]

Are you a mom who is thinking about telecommuting? Here's what it's like.Now for the downside: the invisible work. (Before we move on, actually, just a quick note.  When you telecommute, you need to take extra care to be  "visible" or accounted for at all times. This means being available, participating in meetings, being positive, and setting your instant messaging / voicemail / email autoreply appropriately.)

The invisible work

What you might not think about is the "invisible" work that moms who telecommute do on a daily basis.

Okay, wait. We all do this, whether we telecommute or not.

[bctt tweet="The challenge for telecommuting moms is to be sure we set a boundary around invisible "Motherwork" and our day jobs" username="carolineposer"]

The challenge for telecommuting moms is to be sure we set a boundary around that invisible Motherwork (and Wifework, if you're married. If you're not married, I already know you do it all because I spent many years as a single mom: it's exhausting. You ROCK!) and our day jobs. Yes, it's definitely possible to do laundry or grocery shopping during your work day (totally invisible tasks unless we're out of something: cereal, crackers, or socks) during a conference call or lunch...

Noticing and remembering

...what I mean by invisible work is all the noticing and remembering we do, as well as the little un-obvious things above and beyond making breakfasts, lunches, signing forms, and packing and shipping the kids off to school...things that might remain undone if we didn't do them. In my house it includes

  • Shutting the faucets off all the way (On any given day I might walk into the kitchen and find a slow stream of water running out of the kitchen sink.)

  • Jiggling the handle on the toilet (Before we got new toilets, the one in the upstairs bathroom needed a jiggle after almost every flush. Even though I rarely used that toilet, I was the one jiggling it 99% of the time.)

  • Closing the shower curtain and shutting off the bathroom fan

  • Shutting off lights and fans in hallways and bedrooms

  • Blowing out candles

  • Closing doors: front door, garage door, door between garage and house

Usually, I get all that done before I sit down at my desk, but there's plenty of other invisible work that adds up to rob time from my day job if I'm not careful.

Throughout the day I might have to  

  • Manage service professionals (like the oil burner fix-it guy or our friend who has been renovating our bathroom since late September), since I'm here anyway (At least I don't have to take time off from work to do this.)

  • Do errands, e.g., bank and post office, since I'm here anyway

  • Let the dogs in and out and in and out and in and out, since I'm here..

  • Schedule things

In the afternoon

  • Remember that pizza in the oven because no one else is remembering

  • Shut the oven off

  • Shut the freezer door all the way

  • Take the kids to those things I scheduled

All I can say is it's a good thing I am around all day to make sure

  • The house doesn't burn down

  • We don't heat the great outdoors

  • Our food doesn't spoil

  • Our water bill doesn't go through the roof

  • Nothing gets unnoticed or forgotten

  • People get where they need to go

Worth it to me

Even with the blur between my job and the invisible work and the fact that I often have to make up time in the evenings (not to mention significant financial tradeoffs), it would take a lot to get me out of the house and back into an office.

Do you telecommute or wish you did?

xoxox, Carlie

Monday, January 9, 2017

Make a smoothie with simple supermarket ingredients

When you buy a smoothie from a coffee shop or fast-food restaurant, chances are it’s high in sugar and calories and low in protein, so you’re hungry again after an hour. When you're on the go and looking for a smoothie that is nutritious and filling, you'd need to stop in at a health-food store. However, that can be costly.

Take matters into your own hands! Make a healthy smoothie at home with ingredients from your local supermarket. All you need is fruit, vegetables, protein, some fiber, ice cubes, and a liquid (milk, juice, or even water).

You can make a smoothie with healthy supermarket ingredients

This smoothie contains

  • Fruit: pineapple, mango, strawberry

  • Vegetables: cucumber, greens blend

  • Powders: pea protein and flax seed meal (Bob's Red Mill brand)

  • Liquid: Chilled herbal tea

[bctt tweet="Make a healthy smoothie at home with ingredients from your local supermarket!" username="carolineposer"]

Smoothie recipe ideas

For example, you could use a cup of strawberries and a big handful of spinach with some Greek yogurt, ground flax or chia seeds, ice cubes, and 20 ounces of your milkYou can find all you need to make a healthy green smoothie at your supermarket! Here's the basic recipe.
of choice (skim, 1%, etc.). (This will make two servings.)

You might try peaches and carrots, pineapple and celery, apple and cucumber, or mix it up: apples and carrots go well together, too. The only limit is your imagination!

Just try to keep your fruit to vegetable ratio even, e.g., 50% fruit and 50% vegetables to make sure they're not too sugary. And, if your fruit is frozen, omit the ice cubes.

Additional options

You can also modify the basic formula to suit your dietary preferences.

Don’t want dairy? Use peanut butter or pea protein powder and coconut or soy milk. (Hint: Use powdered peanut butter because it doesn’t gunk up the blender.)

Want fewer calories? Don’t use milk or juice. Instead, try chilled herbal tea, such as ginger-peach or raspberry, depending on what fruits you’re using.

Prefer a thinner or thicker smoothie? Adjust the amount of liquid accordingly.

If you want to get fancy, you can add superfoods to amplify your smoothie's nutritional value: Make your smoothie at home with supermarket ingredients!a greens supplement delivers additional nutrients that may be lacking in your fruits and vegetables (based on seasonal availability or soil depletion), turmeric reduces inflammation, and maca boosts your energy.

When you follow these guidelines, your smoothie is actually a substantial and healthy meal. Bon appétit!

Do you have a favorite smoothie recipe?xoxox, Carlie

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Skip breakfast? Not with this on-the-go meal idea

I worry about one of my sons who tends to skip breakfast.

He came home a little past 6:00 one day (after being gone since 6:30 a.m.) and told me he was tired and had a headache and didn't want to go to basketball practice.

"What does it mean when you have a headache right here?" he asked pinching the top of his nose between his eyebrows.

"Have you been wearing your glasses?"

"Eh. It hurts right here, too," he said, pressing against his temples with both hands.

"You didn't eat anything today, did you?" I asked him, though I knew the answer.

"I had a bar..."

"Hon! That has like 200 calories. Someone your size who goes to weight training after school probably needs at least 10 times that, maybe more,* before dinner time! You really can't skip breakfast! Are you ready for a meatball sub?"

Every Wednesday used to be Pasta Night. Now it's meatball sub night, his favorite.


I wound up making him an omelet and he had meatballs on the side, in a dish.

The rest of this exchange is a story for another day. In my mind, it's "Cooking for my family: the struggle is real."

For now I want to share an "Omelet muffin" recipe I cooked up using a dozen eggs that will remove anyone's excuse to skip breakfast.Here's an easy-to-make breakfast idea for busy families who might skip breakfast. You can prepare omelet muffins ahead of time and reheat when you're on the go.

What you need

  • Muffin tin

  • Cooking spray or paper liners

  • Dozen eggs

  • Ham, cheese, sausage, bacon, peppers, onion or anything you typically like in an omelet. Any meat should be pre-cooked.

  • Milk or water

  • Seasonings of your choice


It takes 12 eggs to make a pan of omelet muffins
This is so simple. Crack all the eggs into a bowl. Add your filler ingredients (I used ham and cheese). Add a little milk or water, maybe 2 tbsp. Portion into your prepared muffin tin. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes (until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean).

Store the muffins in your refrigerator or freezer between layers of waxed paper. Heat them in the microwave for 30-45 seconds (for two) when you want to serve them. (I actually wouldn't mind eating them cold -- it would be like crustless quiche.)Cook omelet muffins at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes

Now no one has an excuse to skip breakfast!

What I'll do differently next time

  • Use paper liners. I had a hard time getting the muffins out. Maybe I did not use enough cooking spray, but the overnight soaking and still needing to scrub the pan is undesirable

  • Use a little liquid in the egg mixture. (Maybe this is why the muffins were so sticky.)

[caption id="attachment_2054" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Omelet muffins ready to go in the freezer[/caption]

*I looked it up later on and I was right: "Teenage boys need 2,200 to 3,200 calories a day if they're 14 to 18 years of age."

Let me know if you try this or have tried a similar recipe! I'm definitely interested in new ideas for feeding my kids. (And they're not into smoothies like me!)

xoxox, Carlie

Monday, January 2, 2017

What to do with used holiday cards

Rather  than throw out the holiday cards you received, find new uses for them!Happy New Year!

This year I waited until New Year's Day to read all the holiday cards our family received.

In years past, I opened them as I received them and taped them to the doorway between our living room and dining room. I like looking at everyone's pictures and I considered the colorful card display part of our festive decor.

Opening the holiday cards on New Year's Day gave me more time to appreciate what each person had written since I wasn't in the midst of all sorts of holiday chaos. I marveled at how many people still send cards (myself included; I think I sent 60 this year) in the age of social media where you can receive holiday wishes electronically, see your friends' year in review (no need for the holiday letter), and admire all the pictures of their kids right there on Facebook.

Some of my friends had stopped sending holiday cards this year, I noticed. I almost did as well, but couldn't bring myself to give it up just yet. There's something fun and special about sending and receiving greetings the old fashioned way. It's like a gift in the mailbox when you get a card. I used to run a greeting card ministry at church for many years and I know the elderly and shut-in recipients appreciated receiving them. So, I'm not really ready to let go of the tradition.

The hard part is, after the holidays, what do you do with them?

First of all, before you do anything, consider updating your mailing list and recipients for next year. (I like to be sure if someone sent me a card, I send them one as well. However, I have scaled back from previous years as I've lost touch with people. This is part of why I am referring to these cards as "holiday cards" – I may send them anywhere between Thanksgiving and the new year, and they may be generic for my friends who don't celebrate Christmas.)

Don't throw those cute holiday card photos away -- save them in a scrapbook or photo album!Save the family pictures from the holiday cards and put them in a scrapbook or photo album. Chances are you're receiving great pictures of your family and friends. Why not keep the pictures? I had tucked all my cards into a journal years ago but the journal got too fat, so I culled the pictures for a holiday photo album. (I am not a scrapbooker, but if you are, you could no doubt use some of the designs on the cards for embellishments.)

Separate the fronts of the cards from the greeting parts and use them as postcards or craft them into new cards with construction paper. When I was a kid, we exchanged cards with a nun who did this. I thought it was clever. My mom informed me that the nun had taken a vow of poverty. She did not have a budget for new cards. Regardless of whether you can afford to buy new cards or not, it's still clever.

Cut up your used holiday cards to make really beautiful gift cards for next year's presents.Cut them up and use them for gift tags. You can create some seriously swanky gift tags with the designs and sentiments cut from holiday cards. They are often embossed or glittery. The card stock is likely much higher quality than any roll of gift tag stickers you'll find. Add a fabric ribbon for a luxe touch.

Give them back to the sender after a period of time. This requires that you hang on to the cards for several years or more, but it's a fun blast from the past to receive a stack of cards and letters that you've written. I have always had a hard time getting rid of holiday cards. I have several years' worth bundled by year and packed up with my holiday decor. When we moved almost four years ago, I had to go through boxes and boxes of cards and letters that I had saved from my childhood and decide what I was going to continue carting around with me. (Many of these items were 30+ years old.) I gathered up batches of letters from some of my oldest friends and sent them back to them. They all loved getting their cards and letters back.

Don't just throw out your used holiday cards. Repurpose them!

xoxox, Carlie

But no one will see it

I set up the nativity in the back yard again this year. In the past it has been out front near the fire hydrant that is on our property, and...