First Lobster: A Christmas Countdown Mixtape

This past Friday was Black Friday. I’m not a big shopper and the thought of even having to go to the grocery store on Black Friday made my skin crawl. So I settled in for what was going to be an entire day of binge-watching my latest obsession, Outlander. Sadly, I never hit play on smokin’ hot Jamie (Outlander character); he didn’t even have a chance. Instead I got dragged into the depths of The Hallmark’s Channel Christmas movie marathon. I’m not quite sure how it happened, but one, very predictable Christmas movie snowballed and took over my entire day.

I woke up on Saturday morning inspired by the dueling pastry chef’s in a small town. As the story goes, there is only room for only one chef. They fall in love because they almost kiss and are interrupted, but can’t be together. Then an angel or the Christmas spirit brings them together so that they have no other choice than to share one single kiss under the mistletoe. (Seriously, every movie is the same. Give me a holiday movie that ends like ‘Closer’, Hallmark.)

This Christmas Hallmark baking movie made me believe in true love, small town living, and holiday miracles. Ok, it didn’t, BUT it did get the wheels turning for Carlin’s Correspondence Holiday Campaign.

As a kid, I dug advent calendars. I liked opening the little door to get the candy, picture, or toy and count that sucker down. The type A in me also appreciated that you had to be patient. It sucked, but it was usually worth it. So in the spirit of the holidays and because I have not sent out Christmas cards in approx. ten years, I unveil your Holiday Mixtape titled ‘First Lobster: A Christmas Countdown’.

Every day for the next 24 days, as we countdown to Christmas, we will add a song to your holiday playlist and a personalized holiday card to go with it. I know the holidays can be tough on folks for a variety of reasons. By the time Jan 1 rolls around I’m usually emotionally exhausted, stressed, and more Scrooge-y than when I started (and I’m Scrooge-y). This mixtape will hopefully keep you dancing, boost your holiday spirit, make you laugh, and let you be a little sad (if you want to – totally allowed). It will allow you to keep your sanity as you navigate awkward family gatherings, dull office parties, and when you curl up on the couch with a bottle of champagne and find yourself drunk and crying after a predictable Hallmark Christmas movie.

P.S. No lobsters were harmed in the making of this mixtape.


Carlin’s Correspondence Campaign – Holiday Edition

Friends, Followers, Internet Sleuths,

I’m hatching a very special holiday project for the Correspondence Campaign. It will launch this Friday, December 1. Star your calendars, light your Menorah’s, be-dazzle your Christmas trees, and set your record players to your favorite holiday tune (or my favorite holiday tune – Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’).

Here’s your preview:

IMG_7830 Love, Your favorite letter writer,


UPDATE: Correspondence Campaign

Today is September 10th. I just wrote my final letter of 40. I’m pretty sad the project is over as I’ve really enjoyed it. I started on June 1 and had aspirations to finish by June 30…that was a little ‘pie in the sky’. It took me an additional 72 days to finish my entire campaign. To be fair, the last ten letters took the longest. I was pretty on track for a while. A lot of it had to do with scheduling conflicts and sheer exhaustion. Being an adult is hard almost all the time. (But those might just be excuses we tell ourselves.)

Over the next few days/week, the soundtrack of my 35 years will be completed. I’ve been listening to this mix tape since May, and the more I listen to it the more I feel like I missed some of my favorite artists and songs. I’ve kicked myself for not adding them, but then again, who would I have taken out? It would have turned into ‘The Never Ending Mix Tape – Part 1’. This just means I will have to create another eclectic mix to listen to. Plus there are some current songs that I’m totally obsessed with, but I’m unsure if they’ll pass the test of time, but I’d like to incorporate them somehow.

I’m currently thinking of my next letter writing project and will start writing back to all the wonderful people who wrote me. It was a lovely amount of mail, although, you can use the stamp to mail other people too. 🙂 I have also received a request for a paper Walkman, to play the tape. Unfortunately, those have too many moving pieces and last time I checked, I am not qualified to make that happen. I am not magic.

Here’s where all my letters went:

  • Illinois – 15
  • Michigan – 3
  • Texas – 3
  • Oregon – 3
  • California – 2
  • North Carolina – 2
  • Arkansas – 2
  • Kansas – 1
  • New York – 1
  • Iowa – 1
  • Hawaii – 1
  • Alabama – 1
  • Tennessee – 1
  • Indiana – 1
  • Massachusetts – 1
  • Germany – 1
  • Panama – 1

Things I’ve learned while working on this project:

  1. I am not used to hand writing things anymore. I got some serious cramps.
  2. It made your day! I had a number of friends write me and let me know that getting my letter made your day, brightened your day, added fun to your day, etc. It’s all about The Lost Art of Mail. (Keep those USPS workers in jobs!)
  3. This wasn’t as easy as I thought. I’m just basic. When push came to shove, I felt my letters lacked a little ‘je nais se quoi’. My stories, to me, seemed great, but on paper, they weren’t as great. I’ll work on it people. Plus, the folks that I see or talk to regularly, it was hard to write something to, since they’re up to date on life already…
  4. It was FUN! I looked forward to writing my letters and was bummed when I was too tired or didn’t have the time to do it.
  5. I want to do it again! 🙂

So message me if you want to be included on the next project. I’m not quite sure what it will be or how I will execute it, but there will be more letters and more music.

In the meantime, listen to the full mix on Spotify here: Listen!


Ok…I’m really behind

Ok friends, I am about 30 days behind. The last letter I wrote was on June 26th and I had only ten letters left. I fell of the wagon…hard. It’s not entirely my fault, work ramped up and I’ve been working 10-14 hours a day and I’ve logged at least 4,000 miles in the last month. I know, cue the violins, the tiniest ones out there. I’ve just haven’t made my letter writing or myself a priority in these last 5-6 weeks.It’s been intense and so my letter writing and pet project has fallen to the wayside.

Don’t feel sorry for me. This is the nature of work…non stop, pedal to the metal, keep on rockin’ in the free world style. I just thought I could make the time and I didn’t end up being able to. (And I thought I’d finish before things got crazy.)

But, fear not, I’m committed to finishing! Even though I’m already 35, I’m still working towards it. This is what adulting is all about. Plus I’m going to continue with my letter writing and with my playlist making even when I finish, which is now looking like August.

My fabulous god mother sent me some gorgeous Crane’s stationary for my birthday and you bet your ass I’m excited to use it!

Stay tuned…

Update: Carlin’s Correspondence Campaign

IMG_6865So…I fell behind again this week. But hey, I’m not perfect. (Also, I wrote 15 Thank You notes to all the winners of one of my sales contests.) However, I did get validation that my Correspondence Campaign is 1) reaching people, 2) making them smile, 3) making them smile makes me smile, which is always good.

This past week I received greetings from Germany, where one of my cards found it’s home. I only make International postage available for very special people. This card went to my first boyfriend ever. It was not serious. It lasted less than a month. We were kids. We mostly just messaged each other on ICQ when we were allowed on the dial up, passed notes between classes, and ate lunch together. Don’t worry, that torch has long been extinguished and there aren’t ANY hard feelings. It was over 20 years ago. He lives in Germany, with his wife and two kids, and signed up for a letter to share with his fam. It was the sweetest request ever, and I couldn’t say no. I was worried about how many stamps to put on the letter and if it would find them, but it did.

‘Wooooooooooooooow your letter came today and it was so cool! The kids loved it and I was really moved. This was the first letter I ever got from any panama friend. Took around 20 years 🙂. I’m definitely keeping it for my kids for when they are older. Thanks so much!’

Then I got another message from my friend who received ‘Sweet Thing’ by Van Morrison.

‘OMG, you are awesome!! Did you know that Sweet Thing is one of my favorite songs??’

The soundtrack is set and has nothing to do with whoever gets the card. I try to match people up with a song or artist that they at least may be familiar with, but the songs are not picked for anyone but myself, so this worked out perfectly. It was kismet.

34 hasn’t been the best of years, not the worst of years either, but definitely not in the top 10. This is helping it end on a positive note.

Update: Carlin’s Correspondence Campaign


I was doing so well and was all caught up, but then I went on a work trip. I thought, I can write a letter before I go to bed after being on the road all day. No such luck. I stayed up past my bed time answering work emails and getting things done. It was miserable. So I have fallen a little behind again, but don’t worry, I’ll catch up. I’ve already written 4 letters today and I have one more to write. PLUS I finished all my cards…finally…it took forever. I apologize some of them aren’t as nice or creative or cute as others. I did my best.

My sister sent me this card this week. Apparently, it was an ordeal for it to find me as it had been returned to her. She’s super proud of my letter writing campaign. It made me feel great and lifted my spirits. I will get it done, the timeline may have to go out the window, but it will be awesome and amazing.

Update: Carlin’s Correspondence Campaign

Today is June 7th and I wrote my 7th letter. (Cue the fireworks!) I feel good about this. I did have to do a couple days of doubling up since I fell off the letter wagon because my mom came to visit. So I’m back on track. My one vice has been not going to the mail room every day. It’s not that far and it’s not that hard, I’m just a little lazy and it’s not really on the way to anything. I like efficiency, but on the plus side I’m getting a letter done a day. They might just all have the same date stamp on them. So it’s a win.

However, I don’t know that I’m going to get 40 letters done in 30 days, but I’m going to try. It might just be 30+ days as a more realistic outlook.