Reason #2,571 You Need a Professional Photographer

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Merry Christmas! All our best for a wonderful holiday season!

from the desk of: Veronica

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

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Best Sugar Cookies and Frosting Recipe

You guys — Christmas is coming. I was pretty ahead of the game this year, not to brag or anything, and other than a few things that popped up, I only have one big task to accomplish.

COOKIES.

I’m not much of a baker. Or a cook for that matter. But it’s not like I’m bad at it, and I would like to enjoy it more than I do, so this year instead of stealing a bunch of cookies from my mom’s house (I mostly refer to her as Betty Crocker), I thought I would make some of my own.

Revolutionary. I know.

Anyway, I thought some of you might be like me and leaving cookies to the last minute and could benefit from my mother’s fantastic recipes. I can’t give them all away, but I was given the green light to share her Famous Sugar Cookie recipe and her Can’t Fail Frosting recipe.

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Traditional Sugar Cookies

Cream together:

2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cup shortening

Mix in:

2 teaspoons vanilla

4 eggs

Add:

2 teaspoons baking powder

5 cups flour

Mix until the dough is very stiff. Cover and chill at least one hour.

Roll dough between two layers of parchment paper. Remove top layer and cut into shapes. Remove excess dough, leaving cookies on paper. Transfer parchment paper to your cookie sheet to bake.

Bake at 350°F for 6-8 minutes until set, but not brown.

Wait until cool to frost (if using sprinkles or colored sugar, add to dough before baking)

Makes about four dozen cookies

Decorator Frosting

In a large mixing bowl, cream with an electric or stand mixer:

     1 cup shortening

Add alternately:

4-6 cups powdered sugar (I do five)

1/3 cup milk

Add:

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix on medium high speed for several minutes until fluffy and the desired consistency. You can always add more milk or powdered sugar as needed to arrive at the perfect fluffiness.

Veronica’s tip: replace the teaspoon of vanilla with ½ teaspoon of vanilla and ½ teaspoon of mint extract for perfect mint frosting.

PRO MINT TIP: It will taste even mintier if you add some green food coloring. TRUST ME.

And there you have it, folks. The best cookies. Happy baking to all, and to all a good night!

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My girls making cookies with my mom

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Top Five Modern Christmas Movies

from the desk of: Veronica

My husband was just laughing at me for insisting on watching Harry Potter Movies while we decorated the tree instead of, say, Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life.

I can’t help it. Those are just Christmas movies to me. I also happen to lean more toward the “modern” Christmas movies lately. These are my top five all-time favorite modern Christmas movies:

{all images from amazon.com}

5. The Family Stone

A lovely ensemble cast, lots of laughs, some tears, and heartwarming appreciation for family. Perfect.

4. Love Actually

Come on. Love, love, love, am I right? Heck, I walked down the aisle to “All You Need Is Love.” If you don’t like this movie, I don’t even know about you.

3. Scrooged

Maybe including this on the list of “modern” films ages me a wee bit, but I just love it. I love Bill Murray and A Christmas Carol is perfect no matter how you remake it (which reminds me — honorable mention goes to A Muppet Christmas Carol)

2. Home Alone and Home Alone 2

Yes, I’m counting this as one on the list. Deal. Perhaps having a little kid set up booby traps to thwart criminals doesn’t scream holiday fun to you, but it obviously does to me. I mean, they LEFT THE KID HOME ALONE ON CHRISTMAS. TWICE!

1. A Christmas Story

I mean, duh, right?  You’ll shoot your eye out. Ffffffffuuuuudge. Fra-gee-lay — must be Italian. This movie is obviously the best because it plays all day Christmas Eve. It’s perfect and beautiful.

So, which would you add? My husband would vote for National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and I must admit … I haven’t ever seen Elf, though I know many of you are probably angrily shaking your fists at me for not including it. What else? I want to make sure my schedule of Christmas movies is full of the best this year. 🙂

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.

Let Me Get You Out of a Shopping Pickle

from the desk of Veronica

Do you have a hard-to-shop-for somebody on your holiday list?

You do. I know you do. Quit trying to act cool. We all have one.

I’ve found that this person often takes the form of a man or woman who buys everything he or she really wants and basically already owns everything of interest. I know, I know — the obvious answer is to donate to a charity in this person’s name. Especially since Christmas is too commercial and consumerism is the devil and blah blah blah.

Listen, I know people shouldn’t just focus on the things. I get that. But Christmas is also about giving. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but gifts are just the thing we do. And there are only so many times you can donate to a charity in someone’s name before they start to think you are pulling a Human Fund on them.

So, if you can’t donate to a charity, what do we do about this hard-to-buy-for person?

Well, lucky you, I have a few sites that have really gotten me out of a few pickles. I love these sites because they have unique items that definitely fall into the category of things no one really needs and wouldn’t even know they wanted until they pull the festive wrapping paper from it and find it in their hands.

1. Perpetual Kid (perpetualkid.com)

Do you know someone who would like some Sriracha candy canes? Ninja cookie cutters? A coffee bean scented pen? Yeah you do!

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(all images from perpetualkid.com)

Sriracha candy canes, $7.99 I Ninjabread men cookie cutters, $9.99 I Coffee bean scented pen, $10.49

2. Think Geek (thinkgeek.com)

Exactly what it sounds like. Everything you could ever need to make your Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, or Game of Thrones fan happy. Thousands of items, each more delightful than the last. Perhaps my favorite thing on the entire site is this:

(image from thinkgeek.com)

Tauntaun sleeping bag, $149.99

Get it? GET IT?

3. ModCloth (modcloth.com)

ModCloth sells a lot of lovely clothes (which, yes, buy me those), but their “apartment” section is full of darling items that would make any hipster weep with joy.

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(all images from modcloth.com)

The Gang’s Owl Here Teapot, $29.99 I Tentacle Spectacular Mug Set, $44.99 I Istan-bowl Set, $34.99

4. Uncommon Goods (uncommongoods.com)

Choosing favorites to highlight is like choosing a favorite child. I want every single thing on this website.

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(all images from uncommongoods.com)

Agate coasters, $64 I Paper pots, $39 I LP record frame, $22 I Deep sea sand art, $85

And there you have it folks — you now have no excuses left. Happy shopping and happy holidays!

You can find Veronica at her blog, Veronica M.D. (no, she’s not a real doctor), and on TwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Feel free to stalk her. She encourages it.