3 Easy To Make Holiday Treats

3 Easy To Make Holiday Treats

Holiday recipes for when you want to be festive but can't bake.
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Recently, I was walking down King Street with one of my best friends at college talking about how beautiful everything looks in William Sonoma, and I thought about how a girl from high school took cooking lessons there for her senior project. I thought to myself, "I wish I could do that because I’m like the worst at cooking." OK, I can boil water to make pasta, and I’m the queen of boxed brownies, but when it comes to actual cooking or baking I’m a little lost. My mother can literally take a look in the fridge and pantry and just “whip up” something. I could never. My mom is so talented in the kitchen that she hardly uses recipes, but I’m lucky not to overcook pasta in the microwave at college. If the thought of bringing your own homemade batch of cookies to a holiday party gives you more anxiety than you can manage, these recipes are definitely worth a look for you.

1. The Sweetest Coffee Cake

Ingredients:

• 3/4 cup oil

• 3 eggs beaten

• 1 teaspoon vanilla

• 3/4 cup half and half

• ¼ cup water

• 1 yellow cake mix

• 1½ cup brown sugar

• ¼ cup granulated sugar

• 2 tablespoons cinnamon

• ¾ stick butter, melted

• ¼ powdered sugar

Instructions:

1. In a large mixing bowl. combine oil, eggs, vanilla, water and half and half together.

2. Combine egg mixture with cake mix and blend. Pour half the batter into a 9x13 pan.

3. In a medium bowl, prepare streusel by combining brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon.

4. Sprinkle half of streusel on top of the batter. Top with remaining batter and then sprinkle the remaining streusel on top.

5. Bake, uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes.

6. Melt butter and whisk in powdered sugar. Remove cake from oven and drizzle butter mixture on top. Continue baking for 5-10 min. longer until done. Serve warm with a hot cup of your favorite coffee or milk.

NOTE: ½ cup chopped pecans can be added to the brown sugar mixture if desired.

2. Easy Cookies

Ingredients:

• (18.25-ounce) package chocolate or yellow cake mix

• ½ cup vegetable oil

• 2 large eggs

• 1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

• ½ cup chopped pecans

Makes 4 ½ dozen

Instructions:

1. Beat first 3 ingredients in a mixing bowl at medium speed with and electric mixer until smooth.

2. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet.

4. Bake at 350 for 8 to 10 minutes

5. Remove and cool on wire racks

NOTE: These cookies are definitely easy to put your own mark on. Lose the nuts and substitute the chocolate chips with peppermint chips or crushed Andes mints. Also, to make cookies more festive you could decorate with icing or add sprinkles on top.

3. Chocolate Nut Toffee

Ingredients:

• 1 cup chopped pecans, almonds or walnuts

• 1 stick of butter

• ¾ cup packed brown sugar

• 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate chips

Makes 12-15 pieces

Instructions:

1. Spread nuts in the bottom of a well-greased 8-inch baking pan.

2. Melt butter in heavy saucepan, add sugar, and boil the mixture for 7 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour immediately over the nuts and let sit a few minutes.

3. Spread chocolate chips over the top.

4. Cover with a baking sheet or wooden cutting board to melt chocolate.

5. When chocolate has softened, spread evenly. Refrigerate. When cool, break into pieces.

Cover Image Credit: Lindsey Ocock

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6 Times It’s Actually OK To Be Rude To Retail Workers

It might surprise you.

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As a retail worker myself, I know firsthand that customers aren't always the kindest to the employees trying to help them out.

I've seen customers snapping at workers, getting angry when things don't go their way, and leaving huge messes around the store that employees have to clean up. Retail employees have to work hard on their feet for very little pay, and they deserve to be treated with kindness for the work they put in.

Here are 6 times that it's OK to treat retail employees with anything less than respect.

1. Never

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Retail employees are trying their best to help you out – customer service is the main part of their jobs, and they really do make an effort to help customers find what they're looking for, even when they ask for something unreasonable. Snapping at employees isn't going to speed up the process.

2. Never

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Contrary to popular (and bewilderingly misguided) belief, retail employees have very little control over the contents of the store. If the shirt you wanted to buy isn't in stock in your size, it's not the employee's fault. I repeat: it's not the employee's fault! They're just the bearer of bad news and can't fix the situation for you.

3. Never

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Retail employees do have to keep the store clean, but that doesn't mean that customers should feel free to make a mess. When you leave trash in the store and a tangled heap of clothing in the fitting room, they're the ones who have to clean up after you.

Also, when you tear up a display looking for your size, someone has to refold and reorganized all of those clothes, and can you guess who that has to be?

4. Never

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Many retail employees have to work terrible hours, what with overnight shifts and having to open the store early in the morning or close it down late at night. Most of them are exhausted and are doing the best work they can on that amount of sleep.

5. Never

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Keep in mind that yelling at a retail employee when you get frustrated does count as verbal abuse, and it is never acceptable. This makes a huge impact on retail employee's days (as one would expect being yelled at by a stranger might entail).

6. Never

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Even if you're feeling frustrated about something, please stop for a moment and continue to treat the employees trying to help you like they're human beings. No one deserves to be mistreated at work.

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9 Ways To Make A Difference When It Comes To Causes You're Passionate About

There are plenty of ways to make a difference.

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There are a lot of causes to support. You may want to support The Trevor Project, or you may want to save rhinos. Everyone has their own passions, and there are a lot of causes that you can make a difference by supporting.

When you're trying to make a difference, there are a few ways that you can approach this.

Start By Donating

Causes will require donations. Money is used for everything, from website hosting to educating the public on a certain cause. Average donation amounts are $128, but this figure is skewed by major donors.

Even $10 can make a huge difference.

Donate what you can when you can — every last penny counts for many of these causes.

Consider Volunteering

Being a volunteer for a cause that you're passionate about is one of the most fulfilling, honorable steps that you can take. Many of these causes and projects would never be able to exist without the dedication of volunteers.

These are the individuals that keep these causes up and running.

An easy way to do this is to:

  • Visit the cause's official site
  • Find the "Get Involved" or "Volunteer" page
  • Apply to be a volunteer

If you can't find any information on volunteering, you'll want to call the organization's official number or write them an email to find out how to become a volunteer.

Go To Official Events In Your City

If your city is hosting one of the cause's official events, you'll want to become a part of it. Invite all of your friends and family. Social media can help with getting word out about an event, and it's a great way for a cause to go viral.

You don't need to be spammy with your promotion of the event.

You can simply write a fast post asking friends and family to join you. You'll be surprised by how easy it will be to get others interested in a cause that you're passionate about.

Find Out How To Host An Official Event

Hosting an official event is also an option if none are being held in your area. You'll want to inquire about the requirements to host an event, if the cause will allow you to host the event in the first place.

A lot of causes are very strict on who they allow to host events.

There may be requirements that you don't meet when trying to host an event. If this is the case, what you can do is petition the cause to host an event in your area. Volunteers that have been working with the cause may have an easier time hosting the event than someone who has just gotten involved with the cause.

A lot of meeting halls or even the local library may allow you to host the event for free.

Nonprofit causes will find that a lot of businesses will offer special discounts or offers for a nonprofit.

Create A Support Website

If you're really passionate about a cause, start a new website or community to spread the word about it. Make sure that you make it clear that you're not the official site for the cause. But that doesn't mean that you can't:

  • Promote the cause
  • Lead those interested in the cause to the official website

It will cost you $10 for a domain name (or cheaper) and just a few dollars a month for VPS hosting.

Note: Make sure that you're not infringing on trademarks or copyrights when registering the domain name or creating a logo.

Spread The Word Through Merchandise

Merchandise is one of the main ways that organizations get the word out about their causes. This is why a lot of causes will provide donors with apparel. The t-shirts and other gear that are given out will allow you to spread the word about the cause you're interested in.

This means when you're going to a concert, wear the apparel.

If you plan on going to a major event, wear the cause's shirt. Why? Your contribution to getting the word out is going to help the cause raise more money. Others that see your shirt may become curious about the cause and research it or donate, too.

Talk About the Cause On Social Media

Use your social media account to spread the word about the cause. A lot of causes that fail only fail because there isn't enough traction. Even some of the world's best causes had a rough beginning, so it may be your Tweet or Facebook post that makes a difference.

Followers and friends need to be educated, but you don't want to spam them.

Don't take rejection of the cause or non-responses about the cause to heart. Instead, try to educate your followers as best as you can, but also respect that they may not agree or be as passionate about a cause as you are.

Share Latest Developments

Latest developments are going to need to be on your radar. If this is a cause you're passionate about, you'll need to know what's happening with it. Spend the time to sign up for the cause's newsletter, read their blog posts and know all of the new developments that are occurring.

Malaria, for example, is a cause that many people are passionate about. And, looking at the latest news and developments, it seems human and cattle decoys are being used to "trick" mosquitoes, and it's actually quite effective.

These developments are huge, so learn about them and share them with the world.

Follow, Comments And Share Official Accounts

Official social media accounts and profiles exist. These are the accounts and profiles that you'll want to follow and become engaged with. Comment on their posts, share their posts and accounts.

It's often these small actions that lead to big changes for the cause.

So, the next time you're passionate about a cause, it's time to step up your game and help the cause spread and grow. Your actions will make a big difference.

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