Archives for December 2011

Grandma’s Coffee Cake

Sentimental post alert.

I want to talk about my Grandma Marjorie.

She was my mom’s mom and she was a very interesting lady, to say the least.

Growing up with a family who’d lived and survived through the Great Depression (and being child #7 of 8), she never had new things or nice things. She had to use hand-me-downs or share, and somewhere in this lifestyle she developed a hoarding bug–and bad.

My childhood memories of my grandma consist of going to her house a couple times a week and spending a few hours over there while my mom visited with my grandma and grandpa. They lived in a nice little house only 10 minutes away from my own home, but because my grandma was sick most of my life (and my mom’s), they didn’t travel much.

Most of those memories are based around me finagling my way around the piles and mounds of stuff my grandma had collected over the span of many years, if not decades. The couches were filled with old newspapers, and there were makeshift tables constructed from aged National Geographic magazines, most of which were probably never read.

The family room was my “play room” where I’d spend hours building small homes for my Barbies, reading books or allowing my imagination to run wild. Blue & white and Norman Rockwell collector’s plates studded every inch of the walls. A huge hutch housed only a minor fraction of her ever-growing prized collection of vintage Beswick Beatrix Potter figurines, all hand-painted and looking as magical and dainty as the characters play in each of Potter’s books.

I was always intrigued by her “office” (or lack thereof): a room consisting of a door that only opened a fourth of its normal ability and revealed a mess of piled boxes, bags, magazines, and a mystery mass of junk that cleared an easy four feet tall. One day, I spotted a frog-shaped candle across the entire office and begged my grandma if I could have it. The caveat was that I’d have to cross the dangerous, uneasy terrain of stuff in order to obtain my coveted candle. I had a search party stand in the door frame in case I should be sucked in (I wasn’t, and I also got myself a frog candle).

My grandma wasn’t a very friendly woman, but she loved me and she loved my family. She and my grandpa would serve us slice ‘n serve ice cream–the checkered orange and vanilla kind, or spumoni–and we would make paper plate faces out of noodles that were probably, if I had to guess, from 1827. My grandma would let me watch All in the Family or The Price is Right with her, and she’d make the best green eggs, per my request, after Dr. Seuss’ famed ‘green eggs and ham’ recipe.

When my grandma died, I was only 10 years old. I didn’t stick around long while my mom and her siblings and my grandpa cleaned out the house, so I didn’t get dibs on anything truly “special.” I was able to snag a marble Dachshund figurine I’d always loved, as well as a beloved porcelain dog set I’d played with day after day which now sits on my desk, a constant reminder.

I also inherited the Beatrix Potter collection which I’d only previously thought consisted of that hutch in the family room and a small shelf in her bedroom. Turns out, that “collection” was a very broad word that expanded anything and everything donning Peter Rabbit and his fictional friends: from paper napkins, to cookies in a Peter Rabbit tin expiring in the 1970’s, to unused baby photo albums with the famed bunny on the cover.

As well as a huge collection of her prized Beswick figurines. All of the hundreds of them, all in mint condition.

It was a HUGE inheritance, one I did not understand. After careful consideration, I decided to sell the figurines and as much of the collection I could, using the money I received for my college education fund–something far better of use than a house full of figurines.

Sometimes I wish I would have held on to some of those fictional cuties–Jemima Puddleduck and Mr. Tod–but ultimately, I have an even greater gift than those material items (besides my dog figurines and a now-growing collection of jewelry my mom is generously sharing with me): recipes. You must agree, most recipes from grandparents are wonderful, delightful things that make us feel comforted and warm and fuzzy all over. Grandma Marjorie’s are no exception!

Grandma was known for her amazing spaghetti sauce–chock full of meat and spicy sausage and spiced to perfection, as well as her tender and pillowy green-colored scrambled eggs and her spicy chicken paprika. But if there’s one thing that screams “Grandma Marjorie” in the kitchen (other than old cans of kidney beans and blue plates on the walls) it’s coffee cake.

Her coffee cake RULED.

It’s sweet and spicy and warm and comforting and totally a staple in my household. I’ve been eating it since I was born and my mom has told me stories of how, as a kid, when my grandma made it, it was the best. And it still is. It’s a family favorite, one that’s near and dear to all of our hearts (and stomachs).

When we smell the signature scent of nutmeg and brown sugar uplifted in the air, we know something good is baking in the oven. And once it’s out, we’re pawing at the piping hot slices of cake, falling apart from the heat as we shovel it into our mouths. It’s the only coffee cake I like and the only one I’ll eat. Nothing compares. It’s THE. BEST.

I wanted to ask my mom for permission before sharing this recipe as I didn’t know if she wanted grandma’s recipes out and around the interwebs. But ultimately, my mom wanted everyone to enjoy this recipe as much as we do–no use in hoarding something everyone can truly enjoy–so here it is.

Grandma died on December 31, 2000 after a long battle of sickness spanning both my mom’s life and my own. And while she hasn’t been physically with us for eleven years (!!) now, every time we take a heaping spoonful of spaghetti or inhale a pan of coffee cake, we think of her. Her presence and her recipes will forever hoard my mind of wonderful memories as a child growing up in her house. And Nat Geo.

 Grandma’s Coffee Cake

2 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup oil
1 egg, beaten
1 cup milk mixed with 2 Tbsp white vinegar (also known as sour milk or buttermilk)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×13″ baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients until combined. Add the flour and oil and mix with a rubber spatula or spoon until blended and moistened. Remove 3/4 cup of the dough and set aside. Add the beaten egg and the sour milk to the remaining dough and mix until blended. The batter will be lumpy.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan in an even layer. Sprinkle the remaining topping evenly over the top of the cake, using your fingers to break up the larger clumps of topping. Bake, uncovered, for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with light moist crumbs. Allow to cool for approx. 15-20 minutes before cutting into squares and serving. It’s best served warm, but can be reheated quickly in the microwave if needed. Store leftovers covered, airtight.

Isn’t this jewelry gorg? Mom says grandma loved shiny and sparkly things–I don’t think you need to guess who I inherited that from. Some things will never change!

Miss you and love you, Grandma! I hope wherever you are there are plenty of comfy muumuus and bunnies that look like Peter.

xo, Hayley

Linked to: Lisa @ Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Crazy for Crust, Inside BruCrew Life

S’mores Bark


Because of the lovely holidays, my family is home on a teensy Christmas vacation from work and school.


So I know I’m supposed to be like “yay, I’m so glad I get to spend some quality time with my siblings and parents and yay we’re going to do fun things” but I’m not.

In fact, I really don’t like when they’re all home for extended periods of time.

Mornings before 7:30, evenings after 4:30 and weekends are enough, thank you.

Otherwise, my whole schedule is wonky.

Like SCREWED UP. They ruin everything.

I can’t vacuum the living hell out of my carpets every day because they’ll complain I just vacuumed yesterday, can’t it wait? and I certainly can’t buy food to feed a normal family of five since they eat a five-course meal for a snack alone, resulting in a humungo grocery bill each week they’re home.

While I love their company, I really wish I didn’t have to beg my dad to let me use the TV to watch my hideously addicting Real Housewives I’ve taped from earlier in the week. And I’d really love him not to comment on how it’s an “awful show” and question aloud why I watch “this garbage.”

I don’t complain when he watches baseball, now do I?


And to maybe talk out loud to myself when no one’s around because it’s impossible for my dogs to judge me.

And to listen to the same five songs over and over because no one will complain that it’s annoying or ask why I don’t like “good music.”

So, as it stands, I’m sharing my home with my family until the 3rd. After then, peace will be restored (as will my grocery bill) and the house can go back to its normal vacuumed, peaceful Real Housewives viewing self.

Until then, I’m wearing my new yoga pants and staying in the kitchen where I can tell people what they can and can’t eat (a secret favorite job of mine). However, because I’m such a nazi in the kitchen I figured I should sweeten their disappointments with treats of the S’mores variety.

Duh, I know I’m evil. No need reminding me of this.

This gem of an idea blossomed when I was standing in the atrocious line at Michael’s craft store a few weeks ago. Lo and behold, there sat a S’mores candy bar, composed of a chocolate bottom, a graham cracker layer, and some stripes of marshmallow fluff.

But seeing as the marshmallow is kind of a huge deal to a s’more, I thought it needed more of a starring role in this psychotic concoction. So I chopped up mini mallows and sprinkled them on top. It was a totally genius move.

Now if only I could think of a genius move to get my family to clean the house for me….

S’mores Bark

1 bag chocolate candy melts or 1 pkg chocolate bark
About 12 squares (the small ones you break off the sheet) of honey graham crackers
About 1/4 cup mini marshmallows, snipped in half with kitchen shears
White chocolate for drizzing, if desired

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and set it aside.
2. In a large bowl, melt the chocolate layer according to package directions, stirring until smooth and melted. Pour onto the foil-lined baking sheet and spread into a smooth, even layer of your desired thickness.
3. Next, gently press the graham squares into the melted chocolate in a row until the entire plane of chocolate is covered. It’s okay to leave cracks in between the chocolate. Lastly, sprinkle on the chopped mini mallows so they stick to the chocolate layer as best possible.
4. Pop the bark in the freezer for about a half an hour to harden before breaking into pieces. Store airtight.

Dreaming of a campfire in the dead of winter? This bark will satisfy that urge and quick. Best for me, since I’m dreaming of another camping vacay with my babe as farrrr away from this vacuum as possible.

Have a greaaaat Friday!

xo, Hayley

Guilt-Free Funfetti Cupcakes


The holidays are nearly over!

I’m honestly quite depressed about it, if we’re being honest.

I wait (im)patiently all year for this season: the music, the cookie cutting, the tinsel and wrappings and the fat man in the red suit… and it’s all gone within a matter of minutes. Forty minutes after three am, if we’re being precise.

Yes, even as adults, my siblings and I still woke up at three. It’s tradition. We haven’t lost the little kids inside, aching to open up new clothes and rubber spatulas under the tree (thanks, Mom and Dad!) or gift cards (you know me so well, bro and sis).

Now I’ll have to wait another 361 days before the next Christmas. I’m already missing seeing the Christmas nights twinkling against the midnight canvas and I wish my mom hadn’t rushed to put all the decorations away. I had a really cute ornaments-clustered-in-a-jar thing going on around my living room and kitchen.

Thankfully, Christmas, with all its sparkles and shiny things, transitions wonderfully into the New Year festivities where there is no shortage of sparkle, all too much guilt.

I mean, there’s the whole “resolution” thing which kind of forces me into a predicament. I’ve successfully avoided the whole diet thing this year, and I have no problems ignoring it in the new year.

But everyone around me is kind of forcing me into thinking I should diet, too. “The new year” and all. I don’t do well with being forced to do well, anything. Except shopping. Shove me into a Nordstrom and force me to find something and I’ll be happy to do your bidding.

Diets though? Meh. That means I can’t be as close as I normally am to butter, salt and sugar. And honestly, we kinda have a good thing going on here. Abandoning them would be like abandoning my soul in a seedy part of town where everyone wears jogging bras in public and slurps loudly on wheatgrass smoothies from Jamba Juice.

Noooooo thanks.

But I totally get it. It’s okay to eat smart, and I’m really trying. Today, I went on a nice long walk through the golf course with Jessie AND I successfully (begrudgingly) avoided buying a handsome looking peanut butter cookie at lunch today which was HUUUUGE. Not even my adorable pouty face nor my excessive begging and pleading made Jessie get it for me; thus I was woefully cookieless for about 20 minutes and then I was frolicking on a golf course taking pictures.

Obviously I’ve been abducted by exercise-fanatic aliens.

However, before they left my body to find a new person to transform into a crazy hiking-and-wheatgrass-drinking freak (only kidding–grass is for lawns, people) they reminded me of this brilliant idea I’ve used many times before: using diet soda in cake mix.

It’s totally awesome and makes the cake super light and moist and fluffy which is everything you want in a cupcake, minus the fat you don’t even notice. I PROMISE. My buttery, sugar-coated promise to you, my friend. I wouldn’t trick you.

Even if the word ‘diet’ isn’t in your vocabulary, pretty please try this recipe. It’s quick, easy and tastes great. Plus, Jessie didn’t even say anything when I had like 5 because I was being healthy. 

You know it’s true.

And don’t be all like “yeah, the cake may be low-fat but what’s with the frosting?!” To that I say four words: Fat free cream cheese.

Open wide!

Guilt-Free Funfetti Cupcakes

1 box funfetti cake mix (JUST the mix–you do NOT need any other ingredients. No eggs. No water. No oil. Just soda)
1 can (12 ounces) diet sprite or 7-up
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe and ingredients follow)
Rainbow sprinkles or jimmies

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with 18-20 paper liners (recipe makes around 18). Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix and the diet soda–that’s it!–until creamy and blended, about 2 minutes. Portion batter, about 2/3 full, into each muffin tin. Bake for approx. 13-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Do not overbake. Cool completely while you prepare frosting.

Guiltless Cream Cheese Frosting

1 pkg (8 oz) fat free cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened (a little butter is A-OK)
1 tsp vanilla extract
About 4 & 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the softened butter and cream cheese and the vanilla extract until creamy and blended, about 2 minutes. Gradually add powdered sugar one cup at a time until a stiff but spreadable consistency is achieved.
2. Pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes, about 1-2 Tablespoons per cupcake. Sprinkle generously with rainbow sprinkles or jimmies. Keep covered in fridge. Eat 12. Considering walking around the block but don’t, then eat another.

I promise I’m not trying to get all healthy on you–not completely. But trust me, you will enjoy these. And if I start preaching about flaxseed and start putting tofu in cupcakes you have permission to slap me in my face.

…not too hard, though. A little pat will do just fine. Preferably if I’m slapped with a pat of butter.

Have a great Thursday!

xo, Hayley

A Year in Review

I have to say, 2011 was the bomb.

Bees knees, bomb diggity, awesomesauce… whatever your lingo for “swell” is, 2011 was it for me.

If you didn’t know (which you totally should) The Domestic Rebel was born in 2011. Obviously, this is a HUGE feat for me considering I’ve topped over 25,000 (!!) views since it started back in January, and I’ve met some AMAZING new friends, fellow bloggers and people in the course of one year. One new friend even spotted me at my work because she recognized me from my blog. I’m soooo becoming famous, guys!

In all seriousness though, this year has been wonderful to me. Besides having a successful, passionate and fun blog I LOVE! working on every day, I’ve also been blessed with having a totally rockin’ support system of my funny family, my bad-ass boyfriend, the coolest doggy evah and some super-sweet friends whom I count on for everythang. And, obviously, I count on YOU!

So I wanted to recap some of my favoritest posts from this year to re-share and re-inspire you.

In January for my 20th birthday, I hosted a bakery-themed birthday party in which I baked up these super yummy, super easy Neapolitan Cupcakes.

For V-Day I gave vanilla cupcakes a spicy twist with Red Hot candies for my Red Hot Cinnamon Cupcakes. Still one of my all-time faves!

One of my FAVORITES by far, I loved these Twice-Glazed Funfetti Cake Donuts, inspired by Shelly at Cookies and Cups.

Is it normal that I still dream about the salty and sweet goodness of these Salted Butterscotch Blondies? ‘Cause I do. And I won’t stop.

These Cake Batter Cookie Dough Truffles taste like cake batter but are made of sugar cookies and coated in sprinkles and chocolate. Do you want 541 of them like I do?

These Fourth of July Cupcakes are still one of my faves for their fun swirled blue raspberry and strawberry flavors and the cute “fireworks” on top made of white chocolate and sprinkles.

One of the most popular items on my blog, my Spooky Graveyard Brownie Cakes! So fun and perfect to make with the kids for Halloween.


Behold: THE most requested, most popular item EVER. Everyone loves the Rainbow Cupcakes!

You know when people say “I ate my weight in ____”? Yeah, well my boyfriend and I literally ate our weight in these Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars. They’re still a super-fave to this day!

Rich, sweet and super festive for the holidays, my entire family and coworkers gobbled these Eggnog Cupcakes up quickly.

Can you believe these legitimately tasted like watermelon? So perfect for summer parties or BBQs.

Last but not least, these Homemade Nutty Bars made everyone in my family smile and reminisce of days where our diets were solely related to Lil Debbie products.

Oh yeah, in case you forgot: Cupcakes stuffed with cookie dough. K thanks bye.

I’m kind of amazed at how much I’ve baked this year… No wonder 2011 has been so fun: there’s been no shortage of butter, sugar or sweet treats in my life. Go me!

While 2011 was awesome, I’m totally ready for a new, fresh plate 2012 has to bring. More fun, more laughs, more love and more baking! Bring it on!

xo, Hayley

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of my wonderful, funny, inspiring and AMAZING loyal friends, family and fans who continue to support my passions and this blog day in and day out! Without you, The Domestic Rebel would not be possible, and definitely wouldn’t be as fun.

I hope you all are laughing so hard no noise comes out; are snuggled by the fire in matching pajamas; stuffing your face with pizza or Chinese food or grandma’s homemade casserole; indulging in those tempting, delicious goodies that are enjoyed best this time of year (sugar cookies, I’m talking to YOU); and are obviously enjoying the quality time with your friends, family, pets, loved ones and new, awesome presents. I know I am!

Crank up that Jingle Bell Rock, eat another cookie or slice of pie or three, and don’t worry about the small stuff that has every other chance to stress us out on every other day. Today’s a wonderful day to celebrate time with those you love and forget about the minor details that don’t matter. Unless those minor details somehow relate to Clark Griswold’s situation in Christmas Vacation in which case I do not advise dumping Uncle Eddie’s sewage tank in the gutter and please, keep your eye on the cat.

Have a very merry Christmas, everyone!PS–isn’t that Santa creepy? Though I’m obviously not giving a flying poop about it. Christmas = day not to worry about scary light-up Santa dolls outside your grandma’s house.

xo, Hayley

Guilt-Free Mini Cheesecakes


So my boyfriend, Jessie, loves cheesecake.

Like, he’s obsessed with it.

Like, when I made those Cheesecake Cupcakes he ate at least twenty of them. And when the remainders got old and stale and forgotten in the garage fridge and were tossed and I had to explain this situation to him, he literally frowned. I could see depression in his face.

Boy loves cheesecake, man.

So much, my mom got him a $50 gift card to the Cheesecake Factory for his birthday and we’ve got a measly $15 left. We’ve been multiple times in the past month. That, combined with my excessive interest and growing love affair for all things peppermint, eggnog and gingerbread; as well as over-estimating my calories-burned while working and power-Christmas-shopping, is resulting in tiiiight pants.

This personal relationship with The Cheesecake Factory and food needs to end before my personal relationship with Jessie does.

I’m not saying goodbye to food. Oh hell no. Boyfran’ can take a hike if he expected that one. I’ll always be on the comfortable side of the “Live to Eat” spectrum.

All I’m saying is I want to be more mindful of my food choices in the new year. Me, and about 25.6 billion other people making a resolution to diet, work out more, and be “a better person.”

Yeah whatever, I can skip the last two, but I do want to eat smarter. It’s better for the mind, the body, the soul, my relationship… and that means I can eat one or two cupcakes and savor them without inhaling fifteen cupcakes without tasting a thing.

Catchin’ my drift?

Don’t worry–I’m still going to post ridiculous amounts of buttery, sugary, caloric goodies no one (not even me and my hoity-toity-it’ll-last-one-week-diet) can resist. But I figured for those with actual willpower and the motivation to go the extra mile on the treadmill, win the staring contest with a cookie, and shimmy in a teeny dress will want something “smart”.

And after like, five slices of TCF cheesecake in the past 2 weeks, I want to be “smart” too.

So I made Guilt-Free Mini Cheesecakes.

They’re mini… which means you can eat at least three… or five, tops (or if your name is Jessie, twenty-two).

And they’re guilt-free… which means after eating between three and twenty-two, you shouldn’t feel bad.

MINI things don’t feel bad, people.

Babies don’t feel bad.

Puppies don’t feel bad.

Mini skirts never feel bad.

Mini Coopers don’t feel bad.

Mini cheesecakes… they don’t feel a damn thing except delicious in your mouth.

So eat those four mini cheesecakes. I don’t care. Jessie doesn’t care (okay, he probably does since he wants them more than you). And mini cheesecake DON’T CARE.

Also, in case you’re wondering (because if I were you, I would wonder too): while I like healthy food, sometimes I feel jipped with the final product, like, why did I eat three rice cakes that tasted like bird seed when I could have had a small handful of chips I actually liked? Or, why did this low-fat meal promise to taste like mac and cheese when it really tasted like a cheeseless-flavored sauce with wimpy noodles?

Don’t worry. These cheesecakes really taste like cheesecake–rich and creamy, with a buttery graham cracker crust. And you can always jazz them up with different flavored extracts, fresh fruit, low-fat whipped cream, chocolate sauce… whatever piques your interest on that particular day.

Guilt-free cheesecake base, endless possibilities.

You’re sooo welcome.

Guilt-Free Mini Cheesecakes *adapted from Kraft’s 3-Step Cheesecake recipe 

About 6 honey graham crackers, crushed into a fine crumb (I used low-fat, but regular works)
1/4 cup butter, melted (see, butter is welcome here, too)
3 pkgs fat-free cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup white sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
Desired toppings (fruit, whipped cream, chocolate sauce–all optional; I had mine plain)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Line 2 muffin pans with around 20-24 paper liners, as this recipe can make anywhere in that ballpark.
2. In a medium bowl, mix together the graham cracker crumbs and the melted butter with a spoon until well blended. Spoon a small teaspoonful of cracker crumbs into the bottom of each muffin cup. Use the flat side of your knuckle to gently press the crumbs onto the bottom of each muffin cup in an even layer, creating a crust. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla extract until blended and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Portion cheesecake filling evenly among the muffin cups (I used two scoopfuls with my cookie dough scoop) about 2/3 full.
4. Bake for approx. 22-25 minutes, checking around this time marker, until center is just set. Allow to cool around an hour in the pans, then place in the fridge to chill for another 1-2 hours before serving.
**Note: The tops of these cheesecakes may crack and will more than likely deflate. I didn’t mind, but if you do, consider topping it with whipped cream to hide the cracks. This does not alter the flavor or texture of the cheesecakes; it’s just a part of life, like giraffes having long necks or Victoria’s Secret being too expensive.

I neglected to tell Jessie these were low-fat cheesecakes… and not surprisingly, he didn’t notice and ate his weight in them. I love how cute and portable these little minis are! So fun and versatile.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all! You better wake up early on Christmas morning (note: early is any time before 8… any time past 8 is considered late and I question your will to live) and tell me what Santa brought you!

xo, Hayley

Eggnog Cookies


I made you Eggnog Cookies. 

Mostly because I gave eggnog the little chance it deserves and realized this would taste wonderful in a cookie, just like it did in a cupcake.

Also, because I wanted to give my neighbors a little treat for being so nice and putting up with my dad’s drum playing and my dog’s incessant barking.

Well… I wanted to give some neighbors a treat.

Other neighbors lost their privilege long ago…

Wanna know the story? Okay.

So last year, I told all my neighbors to warn me if Mannie’s barking was too much. I went door to door, introduced myself and Mannie, and was super duper nice.

Then one day, my mom went over to one of our neighbor’s house. They have a daughter who goes to my little sister Chloe’s, school, in the same grade and everything. My mom wanted to ask the mom if she’d drive Chloe to school on rainy days since Chloe was reduced to walking the mile to school daily and wouldn’t have rides on rainy days.

Even though we’ve SEEN this lady (whom I’ll now refer to as DB or Dumb Beeyotch) drive her daughter to school every day the SAME TIME Chloe would arrive at school, she flat-out refused to drive my sister, even in the rain, and even when my mom offered to pay her for her help.

Why, you ask? Surely it has to be a good reason, right?


“I just don’t want to.”

Um… you suck.

As my mom was leaving, DB said, “oh, by the way, your dog is barking too much. And we’re going to call the county because he’s so disruptive and distracting to me and my husband.”

Excuse me? ‘Disruptive’… to you? All you do is sit on your fat butt all day and complain, then drive your boring daughter to and from school while you have the audacity to DRIVE BY my sister walking in the rain when you live all of ONE house away and we’re being disruptive?

Also, if your husband “works from home”, that’s his friggin’ problem, not mine. My dog barks during the legal barking hours, so if your husband needs to take his “important business call” and is “distracted” by my dog’s barking, he should mainline some Adderall and um, go to a Starbucks where he can “do business” (and maybe, maybe grow a pair… just sayin’).

So my mom informed me of my dog’s “excessive” barking and I tried my hardest to reduce this whenever possible, however I could without being flat-out cruel. I mean, helloooo he is a dog and I don’t know if y’all knew this, but dogs do bark (crazy, right?!) so I had to compromise somewhere.

Plus, it wasn’t like Mannie was yapping at 5am or anything. He would only bark in the daytime during normal hours, and only at annoying things like yard guys or the UPS man. A dog’s a dog, yo.

A few weeks later, it was Thanksgiving and I decided to be cheeky and slightly bitchy and “kill them with kindness” since my other option was illegal. I baked them a gorgeous, from-scratch pumpkin pie, dressed it with cinnamon-spiked whipped cream, and brought it over to them in the form of a “peace offering” from Mannie and I.

DB responded, “oh. Thanks” much like a piece of wet drywall would respond, if that wet drywall was perpetually moody. I smiled and walked away, feeling semi-satisfied for a job well done and for amending our little barking tiff… or so I thought.

Fast forward to June of this year when I was walking Mannie by their house and the creepy dad stopped me to say “thank you” for the Thanksgiving pie and to remind me just over 1,357 times that he “knows I’m trying” with Mannie and “knows a ‘dog’s a dog'” or something stupid like that. I said “okay” and “you’re welcome” and put on my nice face, then walked away.

But seriously I was like WTF why do these people suck so much? I am pretty sure they have a genetic problem that inhibits them from being awesome humans and instead annoying pieces of crap that exist only to be annoying pieces of crap.

AGAIN, I was polite and civil and understanding and everything I had to be in the face of this moron. And continued to do so as Mannie and I walked by day after day, often multiple times.

And then one random day, this family decided to channel their inner kindergartners and play the “Ignore Hayley” game.

The rules are simple: Any time Hayley walks by, ignore her by any means necessary.

Working on your fat son’s dumb-ass car and Hayley says hi (audibly) to you? Look at her in the eyes and ignore her.

Doing yardwork and spot Hayley with Mannie a few yards away? Lemme just run and hide in my backyard until she walks by (I’m serious).

Pulling into the driveway as Hayley’s approaching your house? QUICK, shut the garage door and pretend she doesn’t see you!

Stupid grandma that lives down the street walks by and Hayley smiles and says hello? Stupid grandma, keep on walkin’.


I only wish I was kidding.

So THAT, my friends, is how those neighbors were removed from my treat-giving list.

Can you tell I dislike them?

And the fact that they’re missing out on Eggnog Cookies is worse than all the junk I said about ’em. These are the bomb! So make them and give them to your awesome neighbors, because good neighbors are great!

Eggnog Cookies *from Camilla Saulsbury’s Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book’s recipe

1 box yellow cake mix
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
2 teaspoons rum extract
1 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon + 1/3 cup sugar, mixed together in a small bowl

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two cookie sheets with cooking spray, then blot excess spray with a paper towel; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat together the cake mix, butter, eggs, rum extract and nutmeg until blended and a thick but soft dough forms. Portion dough into rounded teaspoon-sized balls and drop into the cinnamon sugar mixture, tossing to coat. Place on the greased cookie sheets.
3. Bake for approx. 9-11 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking time to ensure even cooking, until the bottoms are lightly golden brown and the tops are set. Allow to cool on cookie sheets about 5 minutes, then gently remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store airtight.

The eggnog flavor here is subtle yet delicious, and they look so pretty and sparkly thanks to the cinnamon sugar on top. If you wanted to make these even richer, consider making an icing drizzle with powdered sugar and vanilla extract… mmm.

5 days… are you ready yet?!

xo, Hayley

Reindeer Drops


If you don’t like poop and cookies in the same post, leave now.

Have you left yet?

Okay. Those of you who stayed, you’re awesome. Moving on!

Let’s talk present etiquette. This goes without saying because of the whole big gift-giving-and-exchanging shindig in um, SIX DAYS!! (Seriously, where did the time go?! Not that I’m complaining… I have a bunch of presents signed to an ‘H’ under the tree.)

But some people just don’t understand gift-giving and/or receiving etiquette, so I decided to be nice and make this guide. See? Those presents under my tree for me? Totally deserved for my generous acts of charity.

1. If you’re not one of those overly enthusiastic present receivers, DON’T feel bad. Conversely, if you make people feel awkward for not getting excited, shut up. I say this because I’m the former, and it’s sooooper awkward when I’m opening gifts and I’ve said my “oh man, this is so awesome/cool/cute/pretty/neat; THANK YOU!” and put my present down and the giver says something like, “what, you don’t like it?/you don’t seem too excited…/wow, I thought you’d say more/look at Hayley, she’s onto the next present/you must not care” etc. No, in fact, that’s not the case at all, unless I’ve been gifted something awful like chewed-up earrings, which yes, I have been gifted, thanks for asking! It’s just that some people don’t act like crazed baboons on crack when we’re receiving gifts… and our simple comments and thank yous is all we need to say. Take it at face value; we’re truly appreciative–and move on. And if you’re like me, don’t channel your inner crazed baboon on crack. It’s never an attractive look.

2. Speaking of chewed-up earrings, if you’re going to gift something “used” or “vintage”, make sure it doesn’t look it. As I mentioned, I have been the (un)lucky recipient of chewed-up earrings gifted from a person whom I will not mention to protect the innocent. This is weird because 1) I do not have my ears pierced, nor have they been pierced for oh, fifteen years; and 2) like most stylish young women these days I’m not a huge fan of something previously owned, especially if said previously owned item was previously ingested, possibly digested, and more than likely regurgitated by a small chihuahua. If I had pierced ears, I’d buy my studs at Claire’s, not from the psycho cat lady down the street for 5 cents. There were BITE MARKS in the earrings, people. Keep your vintage; I’m going to Tiffany’s.

3. Also, if you’re regifting something, make sure you do it on the sly. Whenever I receive awkward presents from someone that I don’t care for, I’ll keep it discreet. That way I can (possibly) easily regift it if needed. If I go around telling everyone what so-and-so got me, it makes it harder to pass off that funky-smelling body lotion or dangly charm bracelet to another unsuspecting friend or relative who may appreciate something of that nature. And please, don’t regift things that have been personalized, like the book I once got with someone else’s name and holiday greeting written inside. I’m not Annie, and I do not want a Christmas wish from Grandma Dolores. This is weird.

4. Even if you HATE something, channel your inner Oscar-winning-monologue and fake that “thank you.” I’ve received plenty of awful gifts in my day (see #2) but I always pretend to be nice about those presents where you’re secretly thinking, “thanks, but really, you DIDN’T have to.” In the cases where I’ve received pants where the giver didn’t know if they were navy or black, or when I received a jewelry box with dirt in the inner corners (yup) I just fake it with a “oh, these are nice. Thank you” or “I really like the gold trim on this (dirty) jewelry box. You shouldn’t have.” Don’t go all crazed-crack baboon (see #1) because that instills to the giver that you actually LOVE jewelry boxes with dirt in them and encourages them to scour more sordid alleyway garage sales for more disgusting presents.

5. And if you have those people in your family who bring up presents-past whenever they get a chance, just pretend you know exactly what they’re talking about. Remember when I mentioned that wacko relative bunking in my bed a few weeks ago? Said relative happens to be one of those who will ask you about something she got you years ago and expect you to still have it. “Well of COURSE I still have that sparkly pink onesie you bought me for my six month birthday! I wear it on special occasions; did you even have to ask?!”

Ultimately, your relatives are probably just as crazy as mine and you’re probably bound to get one (or two, if you’re super lucky) awkward presents under that decked-out tree on the same awful scale as my regurged gold studs. But don’t worry–while you can’t return them for store credit, pass them off to your frenemy or wear them (you wouldn’t, would you?) you CAN laugh at the sometimes-awkwardness the holidays have to offer. Just don’t laugh like that crazed baboon… please. Don’t.

In the meantime, did you know reindeers poop? I don’t know why you wouldn’t know; it totally makes sense since they’re real-life animals and stuff. What, did you just think they held it in during their world-wide present-dropping rounds? I don’t think soooo..

My mom informed me (yesterday) that she’s a huge fan of these cookies, usually known as Chinese Chews. They’re unique cookies made with chow mein noodles, which you can find at your local supermarket in the Asian foods aisle. You mix the noodles with melted chocolate, peanut butter, butterscotch chips… you name it. I decided to call these Reindeer Drops because they’re festive, thanks to the Christmas-y M&M’s I sprinkled in and on top of them. And they’re no bake and a cinch to whip up, so you’ll have plenty of time to craft your perfect response when you get a weirdo present.

Got your game face ready? Good.

Ready to eat something I named after poop? Whatevz, it’s all in good fun. And I gave you the chance to bail out, so it’s too late now.

Reindeer Drops

1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup butterscotch chips
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups chow mein noodles
2 cups Christmas M&M’s (you could also sub Christmas peanut butter M&M’s which I mysteriously could not find but originally wanted)

1. Lay wax paper in a single layer on baking sheets or a flat surface, like your counter.
2. In a large saucepan, bring together the peanut butter and both chips and melt over low heat, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Once PB and chips have melted, stir in the chow mein noodles and one cup of the M&M’s, tossing to coat completely.
3. Using your greased hands (honestly, it works the best) drop small handfuls of the melted noodle mixture onto the wax paper, regreasing your hands if necessary (this is a totally sticky messy process, btw). Immediately sprinkle remaining M&M candies on top for a pretty look. Allow these to harden and set up, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container.

I’m loving the sweet-yet-salty butterscotch-y crunch these cookies have, and the red & green M&M’s make them extra pretty and less, well… you know.

I hope you all have an awesome Monday!

xo, Hayley

The Condensed Christmas Cheatsheet

I don’t care what y’all say no mo. Christmas is finally upon us. There’s ZERO denying it: the mall traffic is redonk (I have the memories of nearly being plowed by a scary lady yesterday just WALKING IN THE PED ZONE), people are becoming more frantic, Christmas sweater parties are in full-swing and you may or may not have started and/or finished your Christmas gift giving.

With the exception of this past Monday (which was like, the SLOWEST day of all time), December has whizzed on by, not giving a flying poop if you’re prepared for the festivities or not. But don’t let the jingle bells and crazed mall people get to you.

I decided to compose this condensed Christmas cheat-sheet for you because while I’m sitting pretty (as of now) this holiday season on my baking and gifting, some of you aren’t–and that’s totally okay. Plus, I know what it’s like to get hella stressed and frantic when it’s crunchtime and you start blaming the world or your parents for your problems and stuff. Toootally understand.

So I’m here to help!

All these recipes are wonderful for cooking up for holiday parties or for wrapping up and gifting to anyone & everyone you know: coworkers & bosses; the mailman, garbage man and babysitter; your kids’ teachers or coaches; your friends; your family; your neighbors (though I’m neglecting them this year since I hate my one bitchy neighbor… I’ll tell you that story later)… whoever! These are also really great for cookie exchanges.

Most of these goodies must be stored airtight for the best flavor and quality. For packaging ideas/presentation, I like using jars with screw-top or snapping lids… it looks especially nice with things like fudge or small bites. For cookies and bars, the dollar store often has wonderful holiday tins I like to wash out and line with parchment paper or festive tissue before stacking in my treats. You could also use festive cellophane or frosted bakery bags, also at the dollar store, or decorative bakery boxes.

Okay, okay, I’ll shut up now. I can tell you’re getting antsy.


Snowball Cookies–a true holiday classic for my family… tender, nutty cookies dusted with powdered sugar.

Cake Mix Macaroons–macaroons are intimidating and scary–like French cookie bullies. These are EASY and taste AHMAZING.

Gingerbread Blossoms–if you have cookie-cutter aversions like me, this gingery alternative is perfect for you.

Family-Favorite Snickerdoodles–cinnamon and sugar coating a delicate, vanilla-y cookie? Need I say more? Plus, this makes a huge batch.

Fudge Double-Mint Cookies–chewy chocolate cookies loaded with mint M&M’s and dark chocolate & mint baking chips for a yummy cookie that’s festive and cute!

White Chocolate & Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies–the cranberries are uber-festive, and these sweet cookies look pretty tied with twine.

Mexican Mocha Cookies with Kahlua Frosting–one of my FAVES, these cookies will be more popular on the buffet table than the spiked nog.

Best-Ever Peanut Butter Cookies–The title says it all. These flourless cookies are tender, buttery and SO fantastic.

Bars, Brownies and Blondies

Gingerbread Cookie Butter Blondies–while they require a special ingredient: Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, they are worth it. Way worth it.

Butter-Toffee Pecan Bars–rich and full of buttery toffee and crunchy nuts, they’re made with a box of cake mix… yet no one would ever know.

Homemade Nutty Bars–technically more of a “treat” than a bar, but these require 3 ingredients and are a cinch to whip together. Tie ’em up in a cellophane bag and gift off.

Salted Butterscotch Blondies–TO. DIE. FOR.

Lemon White Chocolate Bars–lemon is totes a year-round fave flavor of mine, and these are soo yummy and soo easy to make.

Peanut Butter & Oat Brownies–not really a brownie, but a really awesome bar. And the fudge/pb swirl is pretty.

Peanut Brittle Bars–peanut brittle is quintessential for the holidays, so make these bars instead… no crazy candy-boiling needed.

Oreo-Stuffed Brownie Cakes–teeny brownie cakes stuffed with Oreos. Mix & match your fave Oreo flavors for endless combos (peppermint Oreos, anyone?)


Peppermint Bark–we’re talking 3 ingredients. Awesome, right?

Chocolate-Peppermint Cracker Thins–who would think chocolate-dipped Ritz crackers would equal a Girl Scout Thin Mint Cookie identical twin? These look purty wrapped up in a bag with a bow.

Peppermint Bark Fudge–everyone loves fudge!

Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel “Drumsticks”–a cute idea that’s fun to make with the kids–easy to gift up, too! Think outside the box for topping and sprinkle ideas.

Trick or Treat Candy Bark–don’t let the name fool you! While this recipe was originally for Halloween, make it Christmas-festive by using red and green colored M&M’s, chopped Andes mints, or even red and green candy melts for the drizzle. This bark is versatile for any holiday.

Homemade Peanut Butter Cups–and that’s all she wrote.

Cake Batter Cookie Dough Truffles–gift these in a snap-top jar, and substitute the rainbow sprinkles for holiday ones. Easy!

Brown Butter Pecan Bark–one of my holiday favorites, this highly addictive bark has a graham cracker base that’s SO good.

For Four-Legged Friends

Peanut Butter Pup Cookies–because your four-(or three!) legged friend deserves some cookies, too!

Some Packaging Ideas…

Cute red TWINE–for tying up cookies (think the White Chocolate & Cranberry Oatmeal ones, above) and non-sticky, non-melty bars (like the Salted Butterscotch Blondies)

Small Snowflake Treat Boxes–like this one, perfect for truffles, fudge, or the cracker thins

Set of 3 Cookie & Cupcake Boxes–fits everything and look adorable all stuffed with goodies.

Candy Cane Goody Bags–cheap and easy for anything from cookies to truffles to fudge to the Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Drumsticks.

And remember to look for bags, boxes and tins at your local dollar store–I got all of mine there for under $10 and the variety looks really cute–think one type of bag for each type of cookie/treat.

Also, when I’m gifting edible treats for people, I like to create tags or “menus” for my recipients so they know what they got. Lots of places sell really cute, authentic tags, but they’re quite pricey. For this, I like using a heavy colored card stock, cutting it to fit the size of a “tag” and writing the types of treats on it with a colored Sharpie. You could also use festive scrapbooking paper and cut the edges with special scissors, or use stickers to create cute designs on the tags or menus.

Hope this guide helped!

Remember: the holidays are supposed to be FUN, so don’t stress over things you can’t control. Best advice I can give year-round!

Have a great week! 7 days and counting 🙂

xo, Hayley

Cake Mix Macaroons

So my boyfriend and I are having a little fight right now.

About HAIR.

How stupid.

MY hair.

Again… stupid.

He likes my current side-swept, eyebrow-skimming bang fringe I’ve got going on. I admit: it makes me look more mature and it’s very pretty.

But if any of you have side bangs, you can all agree with me they’re a PAIN to style.

They only look effortless. Believe me, there is ALL effort, NO less. And I only reserve about a sliver of effort when it comes to my beauty routine, and that sliver is dedicated to slathering on SPF. Otherwise, lazy is my game plan all the way around.

Meanwhile, I’m fighting with him over MY hair because I want my baby bangs back. You know, those shorty, asymmetrical bangs that are super hip and super cute and super EASY? Yeah, those. I loved those!

Here’s how my beauty routine worked with my baby bangs: get out of bed.

…And that’s it. What, did you expect something glamorous? Sorry. None here. Waking up is my glamour.

Therefore, I don’t know why I’m fighting with a guy who doesn’t do a thing with his hair except wash it. He doesn’t have to comb his wet bangs to a precise degree of flippity in order to achieve that perfect swoopty-swoop. He doesn’t have to deal with them when they get bogged down with oils and dirt and start to droop like a sad Charlie Sheen bang. He just has to be me and my bangs’ arm candy.

What a life.

If you can’t already tell, I like easy things. Challenges are overrated, people. Especially when it comes to hair. I meaaaan, it’s all dead anyway. Why do I need to be fancy to something dead? So dumb.

Speaking of easy, I’ve always wanted to make macaroons but never had the patience nor confidence to make it since macaroons are a true testament to the saying “baking is a science.” Whipping egg whites, toasting coconut… um, no thanks. Can I get a macaroon-making robot or something? No? Okay, well can I make these with cake mix? Yes? Easy. Peasy.

I got this recipe from that book I keep talking about, Camilla Saulsbury’s Ultimate Cake Mix Cookie Book which is the best thing ever in case you haven’t noticed. In the book, these are called Coconut Chewies, but since I wanted to drive home how EASY these are, I called them Cake Mix Macaroons. Cake mix is the shorty bangs of the baking world.

Cake Mix Macaroons *inspired by Camilla Saulsbury’s recipe

1 box white cake mix
1 bag (14 oz) flaked coconut
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup milk (I used reduced fat)
2 squares milk chocolate almond bark

1. Lightly grease 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray and blot excess spray with a paper towel.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, coconut, and both milks until blended, ensuring the cake mix powder is fully incorporated. Mixture will be super stiff. Cover and chill in fridge for 2 hours.
3. When your 2 hours are up, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Drop coconut cookie mixture by rounded Tablespoons onto the greased sheets, about 2″ apart. Bake for approx. 10-12 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking time, until the cookies are lightly beginning to brown and the centers are mostly set. Allow to cool on sheets about 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
4. Once cookies are cooled, melt chocolate according to package directions and spoon melted chocolate into a ziploc baggy. Seal the baggy and snip the corner juuuust slightly. Drizzle melted chocolate onto macaroons and allow chocolate to set. Store airtight.

Don’t you wanna crawl into that little snowman bowl and snuggle up? I do.

Boyfriend better watch out or else I’ll ditch him for some cookies. Easy is good … these cookies are even better.

Have a wonderful weekend!

xo, Hayley

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