Mint Chocolate Cookies

Over the weekend, the weather turned windy, cold, and stormy. As the rain beat on my windows, I looked in the direction of my KitchenAid mixer and felt a compelling urge to spend my afternoon baking cookies. I had all the ingredients for one of my favorite recipes, Mint Chocolate Cookies, so I decided that I would make those since they are tasty and baking them didn’t require me to first go out and buy supplies (note to self: stock up on baking supplies now that the weather is going to be cold and this urge is going to strike me on random Saturday afternoons).

I like this recipe because it’s extremely easy and yet absolutely delicious. I am a huge fan of all things mint and chocolate, so these cookies combine those tastes into one tasty treat.

To create Mint Chocolate Cookies, you’ll need:

 

2 3/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp mint extract
15-20 drops green food coloring
1 bag of Andes mints (chopped)

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Preheat oven 375 degrees.  Sift the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt) together and set aside.

 

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Unwrap and chop your Andes mints. If you have little minions (aka children), this is the perfect part to have them help with.

 

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In a large bowl (I did this part directly into my mixer’s bowl), cream together  the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and mint extract. Gradually  blend in the dry ingredients. Add green food coloring and mix until even colored.  Last, but not least, fold in the chopped Andes mints.

Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into  balls (you may need to shape with your hands), flatten, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

 

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And now I leave you with the hardest part….not eating every single cookie in one sitting!

 

 

Original recipe can be viewed at http://craftyc0rn3r.blogspot.com/2012/09/mint-chocolate-cookies.html.

Looking Back: Ten Years in Telecom

Sunday was my ten-year anniversary with the phone company. In some ways it feels that the last ten years have just flown by, but then on the other hand, they have been a journey, a long road of my evolution from a 19-year-old taking a job just to have full-time employment to a 29-year-old with a family and a career.

The first time I walked into the directory assistance (otherwise known as 411) call center, I had no idea what to expect. My personal life was in chaos: I had gotten separated and moved back in with my parents, I was broke, and I had no idea what the future held. I took the job because it paid more than my last job as a grocery store cashier. What I didn’t plan on was sticking around long enough for the job to turn into a career, or to meet people that are still in my life today – good friends, including my best friend forever and ever, Keri, and of course Paul, the man who I would go on to spend almost a decade of my life with. No, I didn’t plan any of that, but I am so fortunate that it all happened. And today, I thought it would be appropriate to reflect back on my career thus far.

At first, working in 411 was challenging. I mastered the job itself fairly quickly. In all honesty, there isn’t that much to it – you search a directory using key words to find listings. I was in training for two weeks to learn the most effective searching techniques, and then I was on my own. The hard part was that for about the first year that I worked there, my schedule was erratic and demanding. The call center was busy all the time, so we were scheduled for six-day weeks. Since the center was open seven days a week, I would routinely be scheduled for Monday through Saturday one week, followed by Sunday through Friday the following week….meaning that I was working twelve days straight with no day off. And the shifts themselves were split shifts, which meant I’d go in for four hours in the morning, have a three to four hour break in the middle, and then go back for another four hours of work at night. Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore, and when I started dating Paul I switched to a night shift so that I could avoid split shifts. But it got better, and gradually the overtime was reduced. The simplicity of the work left me bored most days, but I had a very encouraging boss (thank you, Josh!) who supported me and helped me to find a place in the center’s leadership program, where I got to help out with training new hire classes and schedule management. I even helped out with training a whole new computer system when the center upgraded to a new platform.

I’d made a good start in 411, but after a couple of years at it, I was ready to move on to different things. In the spring of 2006, I applied for a transfer to the sales and billing center, known as the CSSC. I interviewed and was offered a position there, and my training started on May 1st.  I grew closer to the other people in my training class. The CSSC was different from 411. It was like a little family. My trainer, Diane, was absolutely fabulous and to this day I adore her. I graduated from training on my birthday of that year.

 

July 14 2006

 

My Graduating Class, July 14, 2006

In the beginning, I had a lot of success in the CSSC even though I was never much of a salesperson. In 2007 I won multiple sales awards, including Diamond Club for being one of the top salespeople for the year. On Valentine’s Day, 2008, I received the award, and then was whisked away in a limo for a celebratory lunch. It was one of the coolest career experiences I’ve ever had to date.

 

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Me in the sales center, circa 2009

After that, I didn’t really have the kind of success that I’d had in 2007, in part because I decided to become a union steward. This meant that I was in meetings and away from the phones, and subsequently did not make impressive sales numbers. Whether or not I was a top seller, my coaches – first Kris, and then Davena and Roo – were very supportive and encouraging of everything I did, including when I applied for a transfer from California to Washington. The transfer was approved, and on April 12, 2010, I started my first day at the CSSC in Washington.

This was a big change for me, career-wise. I had known that the Northwest was being sold from one company to another, so my employer was going to change in July of 2010. But what I wasn’t prepared for was that I would be exposed to opportunities I never could have dreamed of in Washington. To be honest, by the time I started in Everett, I was beyond burned out on the sales position. I didn’t like the aggressive sales tactics, the constant badgering to perform, the monitoring of my calls, my bathroom breaks, EVERYTHING. I was sick of being on the leash that was my headset. And just when I had about had enough and was beginning to think of jumping ship, I was brought onto a six-month special project known as the Jeopardy Desk.

Basically, I was given an offline position, away from sales, in which I assisted in making sure that orders for services actually made it to the point that they were installed. It was August 2010, and the new company was just getting its feet wet in the Northwest. The company assembled a group of technicians, sales representatives, technical support reps, and contractors to make reminder calls to customers who had pending installations. The whole idea was to make sure that orders were written correctly and made it through installation. If a customer wanted to make changes once the tech got to their house, the tech would call my group and we would make the requested adjustments to the order. If an order was missed, we called to reschedule. Those of us that worked on the Jeop Desk became a close-knit group, and we had a lot of fun together.

Jeop Desk Halloween

 

The Jeop Desk, Halloween 2010

I absolutely loved my job on the Jeop Desk, and I learned so much during that special project. But I had known from the beginning that there was an expiration date on my happiness, a date when I would have to go back to what I now viewed as the drudgery of being on the phones, selling all day. Not wanting it to end, we began campaigning to make the Jeop Desk a permanent position. My coworker Bob and I fought especially hard, and although we didn’t succeed at saving the Jeop Desk, we did get ourselves noticed, and one morning I got a call at home from Doug, the man who would become my boss, offering me a job on his newly-forming Customer Relations team. He explained that he had been offered the new job as manager of Customer Relations, that he was assembling a team, and that he would like me to come to work for him. After I calmly told him that I was honored and would absolutely accept, I hung up the phone and jumped up and down out of pure excitement and happiness. And so, on April 1st, 2011, I joined the work group that I am now with.

Team Pic

Everett Customer Relations

I’ve been in my current position for about two and a half years now, and I love it. Most days, I can expect to come to work and learn something new. My coworkers are some of the best people I know, and even though we spend our days addressing complaints, we have fun together and the atmosphere is generally light and fun.

Although I’ve moved around to different departments in the past, I truly feel like I’ve found my niche in this position and have no plans of going anywhere else. With any luck, I’ll be able to post an update in another ten years.

Success

We all have our own interpretations of what success is, and where we will need to be in our lives in order to declare achievement of it. For some, success may be a desired career, or for others, a beautiful family or nice house. No matter what our idea of success, we will spend a lifetime chasing it, hoping to achieve it and bask in it. We will make goals for ourselves that are centered around our journey to success. We covet it.

I do know people who have achieved success under their own definitions of it. Their lives do not always appear perfect to me, but they seem well-satisfied in what they have, and that is the whole point, right? I have a great deal of admiration for those that have achieved success and I look up to them for being able to do so. I look to them for guidance as I work diligently toward the things that I believe will define me as being a success myself – for me, this would mean being financially comfortable if not well-off, happy in my family, my friends, and my career. There are material possessions that I feel I must have, such as my own home, to be considered successful.

I would think that the best way to achieve the success that you want would be to seek out those who have achieved it, so that you can be surrounded by the power of positive suggestion as well as to have a reminder of what you want. It troubles me that all too often, quite the opposite is true: people seek out the person that has achieved their coveted success, not for guidance but to tear that person down. It’s the if-I-can’t-have-this-nobody-can mentality.

According to a recent study, people who use Facebook feel less happy than those who don’t. The reason? According to John Jonides, a University of Michigan cognitive neuroscientist, it’s because people are more likely to compare themselves to others while scrolling through their news feed. While I definitely understand social comparisons, all this data was depressing to me. Sure, when I check Facebook I see a long list of people getting married, having babies, sending kids to first days of school, and even doing things that I wish I myself was doing, like traveling or buying a first home. But seeing these things compels me to first congratulate that person and then seek their advice on how they did it, so that maybe I can get some helpful tips for achieving my own goals. But I’ve talked to friends who have posted milestones on Facebook, only to have others try and tear them down or make them feel unsure in what they’re working toward. Not only is that a pretty good indication to me that the naysayer is NOT a friend and needs to be deleted on Facebook immediately, but it also shows that there’s a mentality in our society that advocates tearing those down that you feel you cannot rise up to meet.

Although it sounds appalling, more likely than not you’ve experienced it firsthand. I know I have, when someone I regarded as a friend took it upon herself to make unsolicited criticisms about my relationship with my boyfriend. She didn’t have any concrete information to validate her opinions, she just tried to tear me down because she could. Although for a long time I tried to just forgive her and move past it, ultimately I admitted to myself that I couldn’t and cut ties with her. I don’t have time to have that kind of negativity in my life. None of us do.

In the wake of this line of thinking, I must add to my list of things that I feel make me personally a success. I hope to be a kind person, one who genuinely shares in the joys of others. I hope that when it’s my turn to experience an achievement, that those I have surrounded myself with will be right there with me to be happy for me.