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

Special Guest: The Mama Mary Show

Posted on October 21st, 2010 by Jean

It’s an exciting day here as I host my first Guest Blogger. Please help me welcome Mary of The Mama Mary Show! From the minute I stepped foot (virtually) into her world, I knew Mary had “it”. She’s entertaining, charming, professional and beautiful. Watching her vlogs, I feel like I’m catching up with a good friend. Enough of my intro. Let’s get to the good stuff! ~ Jean
 

 
Everyone’s A Winner
 
The year I turned twenty-one I went to Las Vegas at least eight times. I was in the middle of my junior year at the University of California at Santa Barbara so Vegas was only a short drive, and really the optimum place to celebrate one’s entry into official adulthood. Once I got a taste of the bright lights and a hankering for doubling down, there was no stoppin’ me.
 
My best memory of Vegas that year was a trip I took with my three besties, Amy, Brandy and Lori. We stayed at the illustrious Circus Circus hotel where $2.00 Black Jack tables were a highly sought after commodity rather than a thing of the past (pretty sure the $2.00 tables can’t be found nowadays).
 
Once we found a $2.00 table that could accommodate all four of us, we bellied up, antied up and settled in. The dealer and our fellow table mates could tell that we were newbies so they were very forthcoming with the “understood” rules of when to hit and when to stay. If you’ve played Blackjack before than you are probably aware of the dirty glares and eye rolls you get if you don’t “let the dealer bust.” We quickly caught on, and after a few hands of watching the dealer hit a twelve with a ten and begin stacking chips in front of us, we got the hang of it. Shortly thereafter, my friend Amy remembered a phrase taught to her by her favorite aunt.
 
The phrase is “Everyone’s a winner!” She taught us the very specific inflection and cadence with which it must be uttered (see video below) and we then taught it to everyone else at our table (to give the phrase its true magic, the key is to not only say it with the required rhythm, but it also must be said in unison by EVERY player at the table).
 
Luckily our tablemates were game, so to speak, and began chiming in with us every time the dealer would bust. “Everyone’s a winner!” we exclaimed, time and time again. Soon the pit bosses were gathered around and we had nearby tables joining in on our jovial cheer.
 
At some point I had to excuse myself to go to the restroom (you know, free cocktails and all). When I returned to the table I found seven empty chairs, no dealer and a black tablecover indicating the table to be closed. It was a Twilight Zone moment for me as I looked around for my friends and tried to retrace my steps back to the bathroom in case I had gotten turned around (casinos have that way about them). But after due investigation, I was certain that my friends had been hauled off to the Vegas black market and I had some splainin’ to do to our parents.

 
Minor panic began to set in, until one of my girlfriends sauntered over and grabbed me by the arm. “They moved us to a different table,” she explained as she pulled me in a different direction.
 
Apparently our table had been making quite the scene, in a good way, so the “house” moved us to a more visible, high-profile table. Our chanting-infused good luck continued at the new table and we were all able to walk away from the night winners.
 
Since that night I have introduced everyone and anyone I have ever met at a blackjack table to the cheer and though I have never been as lucky as that first night (who is?), my gambling experiences are always a blast (albeit annoying to the more serious game playas who should be playing at higher stakes tables anyway).
 
What about you? Do you have any traditions or good luck charms when you’re gambling? I highly recommend the “Everyone’s a winner” cheer for you and your table. It’s fun for the whole casino!
 
Check out the video below for a brief tutorial.
 

Ghost Stories

Posted on September 10th, 2010 by Jean

After tucking the children into bed at night, I sneak to my room and watch an hour of Celebrity Ghost Stories, Ghost Hunters International, or Psychic Kids: Children of the Paranormal.
 
If you get a chance to hear celebrity Sammy Hagar‘s tales, tune in. He’s so mellow as his stories unfold. Or listen to Ghost Hunter Barry Fitzgerald‘s thick Irish accent as he respectfully requests the presence of ghosts. Tis lovely. Paranormal kids are in good hands with no-nonsense psychic, Chip Coffey.
 

 
I wish shows like these had been around when I was younger! Growing up, I experienced so much paranormal activity I thought I was haunted.
 
Here is my homage to Celebrity Ghost Stories. I call it Blogger Ghost Stories.
 

 
• Do you watch televised ghost shows?
• Do you have a haunting to share?
• Would you ever investigate a haunted domicile?
• Have you ever looked in a mirror and seen something unexpected?

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