Quest For Snow 2011

Posted on January 13th, 2011 by Jean

Being an Arizona family, each winter we search for snow with the express purpose of playing and freezing our butts off. Mount Charleston (outside of Las Vegas) had a record 8′ of the fluffy white stuff, but accommodations on the mountain were nil. Santa Fe Station Casino offered the closest lodgings, plus online reservations were a cinch!
 

 
We arrived at the “Designated Snow Play Area”, got the kids suited up, and hauled them in their little Christmas sleds towards a hill.
 
This run looked good…
 

 
…but veered towards a tree!
 

 

 
Both girls were fine, and eventually steered their sleds straight.
 
We ate snow,
 

 
tried to build a snowman,
 

 
took lots of pictures,
 

 
and enjoyed the scenery.
 

 
Ninety minutes later, we were heading down the mountain to thaw and check into our room. The girls chose their bed, then ran to the bathroom to check out the toiletries. They would have tested the lotion, shampoo & conditioner immediately, but we distracted them with the mention of dinner.
 
Steakhouse, Mexican, Sushi, Buffet, Fatburger, Chinese, Wings, Pizza, or Coco’s Restaurant & Bakery ~ so many choices! Coco’s won us over with their extensive menu, and we all dined happily.
 

 
After dinner, we bowled. Tom and our youngest daughter had something in common. It was their first time bowling! How does a 49 year old man go through life without bowling?
 
I left my camera in the room, so I tried to spruce up these phone shots with photoshop filters.
 

 
When our summer temps reach 120º F / 48.89º C, we’ll be wishing the snow was still on the mountains.
 
• Snow: Love or loath?
• Cabin or Casino?
• Which restaurant would have enticed you?

The Best Gingerbread Cookies

Posted on December 5th, 2010 by Jean


 
As far back as I can remember, my family has baked these Winter Gingerland Cookies. Mom found the original recipe in a newspaper during the 1960’s. The clipping is long gone, but her hand-written note remains.
 
I’m continuing this tradition with my daughters. They’re a great help in the kitchen, and enjoy themselves along the way. The secret is to keep it fun and lend a hand.
 
The kids can add the ingredients, roll the dough, cut out the cookies, and most importantly, decorate them! We buy Betty Crocker icing in tubes. The plastic, interchangeable tips are less than $3. at your local grocery store.
 
Press play when you’re ready to see how easy this recipe is, and rock out with Hip Hop Jingle Bells!
 

 
Here are some of my favorite photos from the day. Hot cookies cool on the stove while our kitten, Lucy, undecorates the tree.
 

 
Family enjoying cookies.
 

 
Oldest daughter draws a gingerbread man while youngest daughter continues to play with the dough.
 

 
• What traditional treat do you bake during the holidays?
• Do you have kittens in your tree?
• How do you prefer your Jingle Bells?

 

DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THIS COOKIE RECIPE compliments of JeanHasBeenShopping.com

California Vacation ~ Part 1

Posted on October 17th, 2010 by Jean

Our family reunion/vacation has come and gone. It really flew by, as I knew it would. Our first day consisted of driving to Vegas, hopping on a plane, landing in Sacramento, renting a car, and checking into our hotel. At 4pm, we gathered at my brother’s house for my sister’s surprise birthday party hosted by our nine year old nephew. He had the dining room decked out in a Spider Man theme, and had personally made spidey cupcakes to compliment the bakery cake my Mom brought. High on a sugar rush, the kids played Wii games while we adults talked, laughed, and absorbed the warmth of family.
 

 
After the sun set, our rumbling stomachs insisted we toss down a sacrifice, so we gobbled burgers, nuggets and fries to appease them. We slept well in our new surroundings, but I dreamt of cutting open my pillow and removing half of the stuffing. I wasn’t meant to sleep with my chin resting on my chest, eyes staring at toes.
 
At 5am, we woke and began to kill time before contacting family. We drank coffee and fed the kids ramen noodles. The girls bathed, using the cinnamon-scented soaps and lotions. Tom retrieved plates of complimentary bacon and english muffins. Finally the hour was respectable enough to make a phone call, and we were soon in my parents’ kitchen. The girls wasted no time drawing pictures to adorn Grandma & Papa’s fridge.
 

 
At 11am, we caravanned to the Texas Roadhouse for lunch. I hadn’t heard of this fine establishment, but we were encouraged to throw peanut shells on the ground while the staff burst into spontaneous dancing. Birthday celebrants, such as my sister, are forced to sit on a saddle while patrons yell, “Yee Haw!” Don’t believe me? Watch the short video.
 

 
After a delicious lunch, we ventured over to the Jelly Belly Factory for a tour. The best part? Samples were handed out along the way. We tasted honey and plum beans and juicy pear centers.Family at Jelly Belly The pace was brisk, and we soon popped out at the Gift Shop. I couldn’t resist buying souvenir socks, water bottles, sour worms, and super fruit beans for the girls. Of course, I grabbed a bag of chocolate malt balls for myself. I love chocolate!
 
Still full from lunch and jelly bean snacks, we walked to a local pond, admiring the ducks & geese, and tossing them bread.
 
Returning to my brother’s, the kids entertained themselves with Wii until Uncle Jim performed an impromptu magic act. Tom got in at the end, and it was dueling card tricks to the astonishment of us all. Note to self: Learn a card trick!
 
We called it an early night because the next day we were heading to Six Flags.
 
To be continued.
 
• When was your last family reunion?
• Have you been embarrassed in a restaurant on your birthday?
• Know any card tricks?


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