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more than words can say

missjunebug

For the junebug fam, missjunebug will forever be our light and our gravity.  The below tribute was read duet-style by TinyJB and me! (ElderJB) at mjb’s fab memorial service yesterday at her fav church home.  “Thanks, and thanks, and ever thanks” to everyone who came to celebrate the epic life of missjunebug.

SOLIS

Soak in everything around you.
Look deeply.
Happiness not in another place but this place.
Not for another hour but this hour.
Because Forever — is composed of nows.

Our mom loved this place, this church. She was happy here. She called it “her church home” and loved its earnest pastors and dedicated members. She would be happy x 100 today to see near-by and far-flung family and friends sitting in these pews, looking forward at the white winged angel rising through the rose, orange and blue-sky glass behind me.

Our mom’s favorite spot was just over there on your left-hand side about three rows back: a view of the preacher and of the congregation. A perch from which she could pause, from which she could pray, from which she could ponder life a tiny bit.

Recently mom was thinking about this conundrum of consciousness. The fact that in all of creation, human beings are the only form of life that know their breath will someday cease.

She thought in the absence of this fruit from the tree of knowledge it would be easy to be unflappably happy like our dog Spoon or like the orange flowers in the backyard that bloom with abandon, never a worry about wilting.

For people it is a lot, lot tougher.  Despite a long road of obstacles, our mom figured out how to live a life of joy and gratitude. She had a Hollywood smile and lived with Dali Lama lightness.

On missjunebug.com, mom lists three of her life secrets:
1) Read poetry.  Poetry is Church.
2) Have a little treat everyday.
3) Say a prayer of thanks before you sleep.

Plus here’s a little extra missjunebug bonus secret: if larger things in life get too serious or too complicated it is good to get a little silly and go really really tiny.  Our mom conjured joy from her collection of tiny things like these right here: petite pirate, nifty ninja, small ball and the world’s tiniest pencil.

Our mom loved words. She liked to string their syllables and alliterate their annunciation. She had fun animating their essence with punctuation marks posted right on their posteriors. For the ineffable stuff – she would use emojis to excess. She was both playful and reverent with our language.

Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful like a bouillon cube: you carry it around and then it nourishes you when you need it. On Easter Sunday a few years ago, our mom wrote a poem entitled “In not of.” She might have penned it from her favorite third row pew right over there.

In Not Of
Hearts look above,
Hands work below.
Human beings:
God’s dream.
A sun rises, sets;
Flesh, blood
Shed red regrets.
Hearts look within,
Hands pray to mend
What can’t be mended.
In not of
God’s Son Rises
Wrapped in love.
Hearts look above,
Hands work below,
Souls stir, then know.

Mom also wrote this poem, probably this time in the kitchen:

Ode to Candy Corn
White pointy head
Orange body quadrilateral
Yellow Gumby feet
Bite the base first,
Then the body.
Save the tippy tip
for last: a light, bright,
sugary sweet tiny bite.
“Made with Real Honey”
offers the perfect pretext
to eat first one
then another
and another to 19 for
a less than 150
calorie
treat!

All our mom hoped to say in writing, all that she ever hoped to say, is that she loved the world. She believed the true secret of happiness lies in the taking a genuine interest in all the details of daily life. Somedays the details are hands in prayer for resurrection and somedays they are corn syrup made solid then striped. But everyday, our mom woke up open-eyed and outstretched-armed to whatever the world brought. She practiced joy and acclamation for all the daily presentations: for the oceans shine and prayers of grass as much as she did for Trader Joe’s corn dogs and Texas sweet tea.

Mom knew how to live. Her presence made each of us a better human being. Our dad said, “She expanded me as a person as much as she could within the limits of physics and psychology.” I cannot fully explain the why of it but everyone who met our mom wanted to be with her again and again and again. She had the sun’s gravity, capable of pulling everyone and everything into her orbit.

The evidence of this now lives in our memories, in all of our memories:

I remember once I randomly met a guy named Oren in a pizza place in Rwanda. Turns out he knew of “the famous Mrs. Pohlman” from Oak Park High School because his older brother Jesse was a student of mom’s. So I email mom about the small world nature of things and she responds, “Oh yeah, I remember Jesse Gabriel from about 12 years ago: scholarly, athletic, personable, handsome, and driven to carry on his family’s tradition of going to UC Berkeley. I also taught his good friends David Levy and Morgan Immel. Those boys always had each other’s backs.  What is Oren up to?”  Look at the attention she paid to the details of her students’ lives: their strengths, their dreams, their friends.

I remember mom’s poem at your wedding. The one that taught us that the secret to marriage and to family is sharing the load. We must take turns holding up the weight of the rafters so each member of the family can rest and return refreshed to shoulder the next challenge.

I remember the Christmas stockings mom sewed by hand. Mine with a red train and green tree. I remember just four weeks ago mom re-sewing dad’s Christmas stocking just in case, a detail of her love.

I remember morning drives to school listening to books on tape, npr, counting crows, and pearl jam…singing along mom and son enjoying the best rock the 90’s had to offer.

I remember so many family rituals mom started like:
-matching pajamas every Christmas eve
-IOB car picnics
-photos with all our feet in a circle
-chex mix & spritz cookies
-trips to Dallas: Big D, little a, double l, a, s.

I remember watching the starlit background actress lighting up the silver screen on 24, House, and Batman Begins.

I remember running to mom every time I wrote a new sentence or paragraph or poem. Learning from her edits and growing confident from her praise. The. Best. Cheerleader. Ever.

I remember how much mom cherished this family even more with her boys far from home. She was our family’s captain, our north star, our gravity. Mom, you’d be proud:  Dad, Eric, Margaret, Andrea and I have formed a pact we’re calling “the Pohlman circle of responsibility.” Together we promise to hold the family together as you have.

I remember learning how to love watching mom and dad. Hugs before work everyday. I love yous before going to sleep. The indefatigable support during the longest storm.

I remember dinner just the four of us.

Our mom’s last dinner was a grilled cheese sandwich:
Two orange sheets of cheese
On matters not what type of bread
Thin white layer of Miracle whip
our little secret.
Add butter.
Sizzle golden brown
Flip golden brown.
The ooey gooey cheesy chewy
Not so single Kraft Singles sandwich.
Cooked through with love
Then by mother now by son.
Smiles alight for everyone.
Awesome.

During her last days, her sun-like gravity was still strong. It pulled the family together. She forced us to be fully present. To soak in everything around us. To listen to each other’s stories. To comfort each other’s grief. We watched her heart beat and chest breathe, up and down, for hours, then days, like watching a campfire.

Our mom was not able to pen a last goodbye, but she often showered us with loving salutations and sign-offs. She ended an email to me once:
“I am bound, I am bound
For a distant shore
On a lonely isle
By a far Azore
There it is!
There it is!
The treasure I seek
On the barren sands
of a desolate creek.
What’s my treasure?
You! And Dad! And Dan!”

Mom always made us feel like treasure. She will forever be our treasure too.

In mom’s last moments her face was still flush and her presence was at peace. She summoned the final strength to open her eyes and filled them with more love than words can say looking at each of her boys. After her last breath the color of her complexion slid from her face down through her body and alighted on angels’ white wings like a jet-trail to the evening sky. The sunset was a warm peach – not like the crayon color but like the fruit: soft rose with edges orange against the violet sky. We heard the coyotes crying in the canyons.

I think mom took to the sky to give us this evening treasure forever. To make it a little easier for us to find happiness in the hour of sunset.  Either that or she was thinking this was the best way to be remembered because Dad’s only passion outside of the family is chasing the sun with his telescopes.

Either way Mom, you have taught us to seek out happiness in life no matter the circumstance. And you have taught us well. You have taught us to look, to listen, to lose ourselves in joy and in the tiniest details of this world. We promise to carry your spirit. To carry it in our spirits.

Mom, we love you more than words can say.

Stitch Fix: Could be Fab!

This weekend missjunebug got a tip from a dear friend (Thanks, KH!) about another way to use her online time well. It’s Stitch Fix! “Your Partner in Personal Style” Who couldn’t use one of those, right?

Mosaic stitch
Mosaic stitch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stitch Fix promises that based on your selected preferences, a personal stylist will choose five wardrobe pieces to send to you to try on and select or reject in the comfort of your own home. Of course, shipping and returns are free. The selections are tailored to your taste, budget, and lifestyle. Your very own bespoke purveyor! Choose and keep the ones you like, return the rest.

missjunebug’s friend had a fine time with Stitch Fix at Christmas, shopping for herself on behalf of her husband and then choosing from the five the looks she preferred.

But guess what? missjunebug’s friend and her dh loved all five looks so nada returns needed on that order! And did missjunebug mention that if you keep all five of the looks, you get 25% off. Money saving fun as well as time saving fun!

Over time, the Stitch Fix stylist will get to know better and better what styles you prefer so that their selections will be even more successful for you (and them, too!) The styling fee of 20 dollars can be used toward your final order. You can also arrange that looks be sent on a regular schedule. What. effortless. shopping.

missjunebug has got to think that this beats running around from mall to mall, dressing room to dressing room, dealing with indifferent or surly sales associates (except at Nordie’s where they are helpful and kind!), and driving unnecessarily–even with gas prices down. (Gas is never cheap in Cali!) Better that the well integrated USPS or UPS delivery services seek out missjunebug with glorious packages to peruse at her leisure.

missjunebug has thoroughly enjoyed her absence from the supermarket thanks to Blue Apron‘s  creative curating of 3 meals a week for her (and Mr.JB–kitchen helper extraordinaire!) Maybe Stitch Fix can do for her closet and wardrobe, what Blue Apron did for her kitchen and weekly menus!

Will the wonders of the internet never cease?  What a great time to be alive and connected!

As soon as missjunebug needs to replace a few wardrobe items or update her look, she hopes to try out the Stitch Fix personal shopper for herself.  Maybe you can, too? Happy shopping!

Glitch City @ missjunebug.com

Glitch logo
Glitch logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug would like to let her 10 (high estimate) readers know that she’s missing a few of her recent blog posts due to split control of domain name and host. She’s resolved that, making host and domain owner one (very Zen) (Thanks, BlueHost; Good-bye 1and1) but she’s suffered the loss of a few recent posts which may perhaps one day be fixed.

She must relearn many things she has forgotten about navigating WordPress, phpadmin, sql (not an abbreviation for squirrel) and other scary things. Wish her luck.

Meanwhile check Google for ALL her cache of past posts that are still accessible there if you are looking for a recipe (Lemony Lemon Pound Cake, for example) or a lament (Sweet Spoon: Gone Too Soon), just not here, not right now. Quel strange.

Please check in from time to time to see if she is still living in Glitch City.

Some Observations on Hospital Stays

English: Symbol of hospital. Italiano: Indicaz...
English: Symbol of hospital. Italiano: Indicazione di ospedale. (Fig. II 104 art. 125 CdS) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug is not an authority on much. She’s a self-described dilettante and proud of it. Knowing a little about a lot is not a bad thing, but she knows she’ll never be called to testify as anyone’s expert witness, unless, maybe the subject is hospital stays.

Sad to say, missjunebug is becoming something of an expert in this area completely against her will. But there you have it. All that hopeful nonsense in her first post of 2015 about being cancer-free and happy to be was short-lived indeed. That is the very tricky nature of this very tricky condition as no doubt so many of you know.

The other tricky part is not just surviving the recurrence of cancer, but surviving the hospital stay that follows the required surgery. Although her surgeon would probably not agree, the easy part is the surgery. missjunebug has no idea what goes on during her six-hour stint in the operating room (Praise God for anesthesiologists!). It’s the aftermath that she is keenly aware of for what feels like forever and then some.

To continue her slow but sure healing, missjunebug is doing a little therapeutic venting of her most angst-ridden hospital stay highlights.

missjunebug’s Most Hated Things: The Hospital Stay Edition:

1. IVs and NG tubes (the WORST)

2. Foley Catheters

3. Alarmed machines triggered by random movements especially in ICU (Boo ICU!)

4. TPN: Total Parental Nutrition (IV-fed glucose breakfast, lunch and dinner)

5. Blood test for Blood sugar/insulin imbalance every six hours (because of #4)

6. Insulin shots every 6 hours depending on results from #5

7. Vital signs checked every few hours (4? 5? 6? hours–missjunebug can’t remember, but trust her–it was frequent!)

8. Early morning blood draw every day for other blood testing

9. Nightly protonics shot or port injection, the bulwark against indigestion and gastric issues–missjunebug is super thankful for her little power port!

10. The deadening power of too much terrible cable television

11. The endlessness of a single day where there are no normal meal times and no spontaneous moments of social conviviality

12. The inability to shower

13. The complicated nature of sponge baths

14. The itchy over-sized hospital gowns

15. The parade of doctors (all skilled and good and dedicated) checking on their part of the patient they are in charge of

16. The relentlessness of the insufferably upbeat physical therapists to teach missjunebug the log roll and the reverse log roll and the mastery of the walker and eventually the stairs. It makes her tired just thinking about it again.

17. The continuous postponement of departure to the next day, no not today, maybe tomorrow, says her doctor.

18. The gradual re-introduction of clear liquids, full liquids, soft, low residue diet, and finally REAL FOOD.

19. The question asked and answered daily, “Have you passed gas? Had a bowel movement?” Yes and yes. Believe missjunebug when she says BMs are a very big deal after pelvic/abdominal surgery.

20. Until finally the last hurdle: the first round of chemotherapy administered. This may seem impossibly counterintuitive, but as they say “Studies show…” that the quicker the chemo is after surgery, the less likely the cancer will regroup, regrow, and return. Hmmm. missjunebug is not entirely convinced. It might be more accurate to say it will delay the return of this most miserable of maladies.

So there you have it. Haters gotta hate and missjunebug HATES being in the hospital.

That being said, missjunebug’s stay was survivable for two very important reasons:

1. The push-button dilaudid drip.

2. The compassionate care of the cadre of oncology nurses administering missjunebug’s Most-Hated Things list. Thanks, thanks, and thanks again to the nurses at LRH! You rock! You roll! You rule! missjunebug hopes not to see you again soon.

 

This Day, A Bouquet

So missjunebug hosted a new member reception at her church last Sunday. Her gig on the Welcoming Committee (aka Evangelism Committee) has been a long one at Holy Trinity htlcto.org, but a fun one. Still it may be time to turn this task over to enthusiastic (read: younger) members, soon.

But on this particular Sunday, she had some fun using her dear (departed) mom’s cheery, cherry tablecloths from the 50s. Vintage plus! And she found these sweet blossoms at Gelson’s for the centerpiece.  Add cookies and brownies and fruit and other goodies all  contributed by some super awesome ladies of Holy Trinity and she’s pretty sure even God would have said “And it was good.”

missjunebug thinks these vivid pinky red flowerets are about the cutest blossoms she’s ever seen. She can’t remember their weird name, but no matter! She knows just where to find them.

IMG_6791

Philosophy for the Uninitiated

Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sa...
Detail of The School of Athens by Raffaello Sanzio, 1509, showing Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thanks to TinyJB, missjunebug recently checked out the website/podcast The Partially Examined Life at partiallyexaminedlife.com. What a fun bunch of smarty pants guys. Mark, Seth, Wes, and Dylan are equal parts irreverent, serious, hilarious, analytical, erudite, and absolutely entertaining.

Plus they have great voices. This matters in a podcast! Especially one you plan to listen to on a regular basis.

Readings are recommended with each philosopher (partially) examined, but take it from missjunebug, they are not essential to deriving some useful information that just might improve your understanding of life, meaning, and the monad. (Okay, for that last one you’ll just have to listen to the podcast on Liebniz.)

Here’s what the winsome foursome have to say for themselves on their website:

The Partially Examined Life is a philosophy podcast by some guys who were at one point set on doing philosophy for a living but then thought better of it. Each episode, we pick a text and chat about it with some balance between insight and flippancy. You don’t have to know any philosophy, or even to have read the text we’re talking about to (mostly) follow and (hopefully) enjoy the discussion. 

(missjunebug loves her some writers who know how to use the parenthetical word or two)

In homage to the philosopher who inspires the name of their blog, the boys begin with Plato’s Apology where Socrates makes as strong case for self-examination as Mark Zuckerberg does for selfies on Facebook. If you are a seeker, a questioner, or a wonderer, check out one of the many podcast episodes on partiallyexaminedlife.com. There are over one hundred to choose from or you can do what missjunebug is doing and begin at the beginning with Plato and his man Socrates.

Perhaps, you will come to agree with Plato that “Wonder is the feeling of the philosopher, and philosophy begins in wonder.”

Thoughts on the New Year

Wow! 2015! missjunebug is surprised to still be here! She is officially a five-year survivor of Ovarian Cancer AND a five-year writer of her little blog. Fortunately, most of the posts here have assiduously and intentionally avoided the subject of OC which is best handled elsewhere on the internet and have instead focused on a merry miscellany of raves, rants, reviews, recipes, and any other serendipitously selected subjects that crossed her mind and buoyed her spirits. She’s looking forward to more posting fun in 2015 that her readers (all 8 of them!) will enjoy and she’s hoping to be around to ring in 2016!

In the meantime, missjunebug has set for herself a few minimalist resolutions that she’s ready to get, well, resolute about!

missjunebug’s Minimalist Resolutions for 2015: missjunebug resolves

1. to write one sentence a day in her awesome Mr. Boddington’s Studio five-year journal. She’s sure her Master’s Degree in English will help her construct loaded compound-complex sentences that are information rich but space saving! This nifty little memory keeper has a delightful, colorful cover and fun graphics on each page. Inspiring! Simple! Doable!

Mr. Boddington's Studio Rocks! Photo by mjb2015
Mr. Boddington’s Studio Rocks! Photo by mjb2015

2.  to strap that Fitbit back on to track how few or how many steps she’s taking each day. No goals. No required 10,000 steps–although she does love seeing that little digital sign light up!!! She’s just going to let the Fitbit keep track and see what happens.

3. to scale back getting on her Aria (Fitbit connected scale) to once a week. No more daily obsessing.

4. to get small where food prep is concerned by exploring the fab recipes in her new The Complete Cooking for Two cookbook by those nerdist foodies at America’s Test Kitchen. She’s tired of eating Ree Drummond‘s Cowboy Spaghetti casserole for two weeks running–it’s just too much for two! and she’s disenchanted (and slightly revolted) by all the mysterious containers of leftovers lurking in the frig.

It takes two! Photo by mjb2015
It takes two! Photo by mjb2015

5. to be a gym drop out. Bucking the new year January trend, she just canceled her membership because, Surprise! she never went anyway, so what’s the point of pretending that she’s ever going! More power to those of you who can actually get in your cars and drive to your gym, saddle up machines and lift dumbbells (nuf said).

6. to put into action The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, a truly life-changing look at the stuff of life. missjunebug promises not to roll her socks into an ugly ball, but to fold them gently, pat them, and thank them for all their hard work!

7. to keep a Moleskine Book Journal (Thanks ElderJB and his lovely bride CBjb (Ciao Bella!)) so she can remember what the heck she read all year! Simple one-page entries will help her hit the highlights and assure herself she’s making progress, exercising brain cells, and learning to be a more empathetic human being. Yes! That’s what good literature does. NPR says so!

Super Smart Moleskine! Photo by mjb2015
Super Smart Moleskine! Photo by mjb2015
Make a Note, a Book Note! Photo by mjb2015
Make a Note, a Book Note! Photo by mjb2015

8. to put that “more epathetic human being” to good use in the world by being kind first and saving pissed off for later or maybe never.

mjbTip: Make some of your own minimal resolutions for maximal success! Happy 2015!

missjunebug’s HO! HO! HO! Hacks

missjunebug has been super busy getting ready for Santa’s Big Day, but she wanted to take out some time to share a few nifty Christmasy ideas she’s come across on the internet or even thought of herself!

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 1

Make your own nametags for gifts using watercolor paper, watercolors, and Christmas cookie cutters. Trace ’em, cut ’em out, paint ’em, hole punch ’em and ribbon ’em up! So much calorie-free fun!

Name Tags Galore!
Name Tags Galore!
To Spark Your Creativity!
To Spark Your Creativity!
Love Those Dots!
Love Those Dots!

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 2

Wrapping a lot of gifties? Take missjunebug’s advice and use the inner cardboard tube of the first wrapping paper you finish off to make lots of little clasps for your other wrapping papers. A super simple, super smart way to keep all your wrapping papers tucked away neatly.

missjunebug's Got It On Lock
missjunebug’s Got It On Lock!

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 3

missjunebug loves to buy her wired Christmas ribbon at Costco where the prices for it are reasonable and the ribbons are colorful and varied. But the ribbons generally only come in two width sizes: large and even larger. Try cutting the ribbon lengthwise into three strips: two thin ones following the wired edges, leaving the middle strip about one-half inch in width. Now you will be ready to wrap any size gifts with 3 different widths of ribbon.

Ribbon x 3!
Ribbon x 3!

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 4

When using packing tape, missjunebug used to fold down the end so that it wouldn’t stick back on to itself. This wasted tape, but she could find the end when she needed it. Recently, she came across this simple idea on the internet that solves the pesky problems of wasted tape and lost edge. Attach a plastic bread tie to the end of the tape, so you will always find the tape’s edge. Just pull the tab, cut the tape you need, and reattach the tab when your finished with the tape.  Genius!!

Bread Tab: Super Tape Saver!
Bread Tab: Super Tape Saver!

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 5

Relax, have some Trader Joe’s (Light) Egg Nog, and enjoy the shiny season!

Merry Christmas from missjunebug, Mr.JB, Elder JB, TinyJB, SpoonBug, and LeftyJB!

Copy that!
Copy that! 

The Assets: An Altogether Admirable Airing on Netflix

Seal of the C.I.A. - Central Intelligence Agen...
Seal of the C.I.A. – Central Intelligence Agency of the United States Government (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Back in January The Assets turned out not to be an asset to ABC.

ABC has pulled the plug on troubled eight-hour mini-series The Assets after two very low airings. It will be replaced by Shark Tank repeats in the Thursday 10 PM hour for the next three weeks. The Assets started off with a dismal 0.7 rating for its premiere last Thursday and managed to fall even lower last night, to a 0.6, which qualifies as the lowest rating for an hourlong original on the Big 4 networks this season and likely ever. In its defense, The Assets does not hail from ABC’s entertainment division but from ABC News as it is based on real events. The Cold War spy drama doesn’t have stars in it and didn’t get any marketing. There is no plan yet for the six unaired apisodes

via ABC’s Pulls ‘The Assets’ After Two Airings | Deadline.

Netflix that streaming/buffering digital island of misfit media toys provided a leeward refuge for The Assets. The C.I.A. agents got to come in from the cold, harsh ratings war and find a new audience, a more appreciative audience like missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB. Having been bitten by the spy game bug at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum not too long ago where nifty spy gear and spy craft were beautifully curated, mjb and the mister cannot get enough of the spy game film genre.

Despite The Assets not catching on with an audience on network television, it’s worth catching on Netflix. So what if there are no big stars. So what if the marketing was non-existent. So what if Shark Tank co-opted its time slot. None of that will matter when you immerse yourself in the long game of spy vs. spy and the relentless efforts of two earnest C.I.A. operatives to catch a mole in their ranks.

The best part is that it’s a true story based on the book Circle of Treason written by Sandra Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuille, the two C.I.A. agents involved in the painstaking pursuit of one of their own, a very bad, very treasony, very greedy agent who finally gets a very satisfying comeuppance.

mjbTip: Skip the sharks!

 

missjunebug’s Pumpkins in a Pot

A Bumper Crop! Two, count 'em Two Pumpkins!!! Photo by mjb2014
A Bumper Crop! Two, count ’em Two Pumpkins!!! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug has been thinking about growing pumpkins for a long time. A few years ago she tried a little plot down by her barn and had some healthy vines with beautiful yellow-gold blossoms thriving for the briefest while: gophers took out the roots and dashed all mjb’s hopes for homegrown pumpkins. Sigh.

This year she tried again with a clever internet idea (Thanks, Google! The question: Can I grow pumpkins in a pot?). The answer, yes! But despite the promising prodigious growth of leaves and vines and blossoms from her Home Depot 2″ pot pumpkin plant, missjunebug’s less-than-bumper crop was tiny x 2.

Mr.JB thinks most of the blossoms didn’t get fertilized. missjunebug thinks most of the blossoms weren’t ever open long enough to get fertilized due to the sometimes shady spot she placed the pot.

No matter. She will enjoy the two she grew this year and try again next year in a raised bed that’s gopher proof. Happy Fall! Happy Halloween!

missjunebug’s Smoothie Adventure Begins!

C.J. Rabbit tastes The First Smoothie as White Cow and White Hen look on. Photo by mjb2014
C.J. Rabbit tastes The First Smoothie as White Cow and White Hen look on green with envy. Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug is late to the smoothie craze, but people smarter than she have finally convinced her it’s a fine way to fine tune her nutritional intake. She took the plunge on AmazonSmile.com (so a % of her purchase goes to One Acre Fund!) and selected a Vitamix Professional Series 300! What. a. machine!

In mere minutes missjunebug whipped up some coconut milk for future smoothies. It’s actually really easy to make your own coconut milk.

Here’s a simple recipe to try:

missjunebug’s Homemade Coconut Milk

Bring 3 cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add 1 cup of unsweetened coconut. Stir and let the mixture rest for 10 minutes. Then Vitamix it until smooth (30-60 seconds!) Strain through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, squeezing out the last drop of milky goodness. Store in a glass jar in the frig for 3-4 days or freeze into cubes.

With that success under her little bug belt, missjunebug moved on to smoothie making! Fun times!

After reading a bunch of recipes, she decided just to wing it with this concoction.

missjunebug’s Completely Unoriginal Very Berry Smoothie

2 cups of Baby Romaine

1/2  carrot

1-2 cups frozen berry medley (raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries)

3-4 ice cubes

1/2-3/4 cup coconut, almond, or soy milk. (you choose!)

Pour in 1/2 the milk. Then layer in the greens first, then the berries, then the carrot, topping with the ice cubes. Add milk to keep the Vitamix mixing until the smoothie is, well, smooth! Probably makes two servings, but mjb drank both!!

missjunebug may be late to the smoothie party, but she’s overcome her prejudice against pulverized greens and is ready to mix it up!!!

Is Bend Beer Really Better?

Is BBB? Photo by mjb2014
Is BBB? Photo by mjb2014

Recently missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB did some retirement reconnaissance in beautiful Bend, Oregon. Each of them had (separately) heard some wonderful waxing eloquents (new word!) from friends who were also considering Bend as the place to be. So the junebugs decided to check it out for themselves.

Their base of operations was awesome: The Oxford Hotel in downtown Bend. missjunebug cannot say enough about how great this boutique hotel is! Fab view, comfy bedding,  luxurious bath, superb location, fine food at 10Below, and super nice staff. And did missjunebug mention the in-room eco friendly French Press coffee? Delightful way to start a day dedicated to hitting the Bend Ale Trail.

Which brings missjunebug to the burning question: Is Bend Beer Better as the bumper sticker purports? Hell to the yes, it is better! Even though missjunebug is a Stella girl, it was fun to try all those mini glasses of Bend beer taking flight at Deschutes Brewery, McMenamins Old St. Francis, Three Creeks Brewery (Sisters) RatHole Brewing, Crux Fermentation Project, Brew Works, and the Bend Brewing Company. Even more fun was keeping track of the flavors on the Bend Ale Trail Passport mjb and her trusty Mr.JB picked up at the awesome visitor center in downtown (just follow the bright blue and white INFO signs to get there).

This happy little brew-filled vacay has given missjunebug and Mr.JB a lot to think about as they plan their future retirement. Believe missjunebug when she says, Bend is a contender!

mjbTip: Fly into Redmond Municipal airport to get to Bend and avoid the North Bend airport mistake many first time travelers make. Unless you want to drive four and half hours from coastal North Bend to get to the intended Bend! And yes, missjunebug and Mr.JB took the long way through piney woods, along rivers, and across the Cascades. missjunebug’s bad!!! After a good laugh, they made the best of it! According to the Hertz rental car lady, this mistake happens all the time. And sometimes people are not quite so happy about it!

Getting the Passport Stamped is Half the Fun! Photo by mjb2014
Getting the Passport Stamped is Half the Fun! Photo by mjb2014
Riverbend Brewing Company Offerings! Photo by mjb2014
Riverbend Brewing Company Offerings! Photo by mjb2014
Nice quilt, Three Creeks! Photo by mjb2014
Nice quilt, Three Creeks! Photo by mjb2014
Tastes better than the name implies! Photo by mjb2014
Tastes better than the name implies! Photo by mjb2014

The Mini-Series Netflix-Style

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB have discovered a couple of worthwhile films on Netflix that do not require a gazillion hour binge-watch commitment. Just a few hours over a couple of days or mini-binge them if you must!

The first is Generation War  (“Unsere Mütter, unsere Väter” Original German title), literally “Our mothers, our fathers” is a three-episode drama depicting the lives of five German friends facing a bittersweet Auf Wiedersehen in 1941 and promising each other to meet again in Berlin at Christmas when the war is over. Not so fast, meine Kinder! This is World War II missjunebug is talking about and its end was a long time coming as Generation War reveals in tragic detail.

A map of German front of the Second World War ...
A map of German front of the Second World War circa 1941-1942. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To say the way the Germans are depicted here (naïve, optimistic, and well outside the Nazi war machine at least in their heart of hearts, if not in their actions) is controversial to say the least, but it makes for some fine cinematic viewing with excellent acting and commendable film craft. Seven million Germans can’t be wrong: the number who tuned into Generation War when it was aired in Germany in March 2013. No doubt worth your tune in time, too. 

If you are in need of a House of Cards type fix, check out The Politician’s Husband for your next Netflix miniseries. This earnest , sometimes disturbing, and always entertaining look at the MPs and PMs of Britain will make you appreciate the current do-nothing Congress. The political intrigues are set within a close look at a marriage that begins solid but soon suffers from the clash of ego with desire. David Tennant and Emily Watson play the power couple who go for broke, but end up gold when they serve up revenge, a dish we all know is best served cold.  Fun times!

mjbTip: To cleanse the bad taste of The Politician’s Husband, watch one of missjunebug’s fave films of all time from the Land of Keep Calm and Carry On: The Winslow Boy. May Right Be Done! Copy that.

missjunebug’s Latest Love: Bottega Louie

Bottega Louie has it going on. Photo by mjb2014
Bottega Louie has it going on. Photo by mjb2014

“Je t’aime, je t’aime toujours, Monsieur B. Louie!” says missjunebug.

All her ladies-who-lunch dreams came true recently at 700 South Grand Avenue where Bottega Louie holds court over downtown Los Angeles. The physical space is large and white; the atmosphere,  lively and inviting. For just a brief moment, missjunebug thought she had been transported to Paris, especially when she got a good look at the patisserie. Row after row of exquisitely decorated desserts and pastries, creamy, fruity, flaky, fabulous!

Just take a look:

A patisserie in Los Angeles worthy of Paris! Photo by mjb2014
A patisserie in Los Angeles worthy of Paris! Photo by mjb2014

Of course, Bottega Louie presents more than pastry. The café has salads, soups, pizzas, pastas, and sandwiches.  missjunebug delighted in the Caprese salad (tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, basil, fleur de sel, cracked pepper & extra virgin olive oil) and the Asparagus and Poached Egg small plate. Believe missjunebug when she says the flavors were not small, nor the portions! missjunebug’s lovely companion (who introduced her to Bottega Louie on their recent field trip) enjoyed the savory Club sandwich. 

Happily, mjb and her dear friend saved room for dessert from the très jolie patisserie! Imagine whipped cream, flaky pastry, vanilla, caramel, and more! Fruit tarts! Eclairs! Beignets! Macarons!  Here’s what they enjoyed:

Oh. my. yes. De. Licious. Photo by mjb2014
Oh. my. yes. De. Licious. Photo by mjb2014

Note the prayerfully folded hands of mjb’s dear friend! Yes! They were thankful to God in heaven for these heavenly desserts!

Brave the 101 and the 110 and get yourself downtown. missjunebug promises you will be transported to another world in of all places downtown L.A. Things are looking up in the City of Angels!

mjbTip: check out Bottega Louie’s welcoming website for further details: www.bottegalouie.com

Daniel Caudill Knows Scheiße from Shinola

missjunebug has a fine time reading the Wall Street Journal‘s “20 Odd Questions” column. Recently she ran across the quirky 20-question interview WSJ had with Daniel Caudill of Shinola. As Creative Director of this upstart luxury made-in-America timepiece company, Mr. Caudill has some strong faith in the well-made thing. At Shinola said thing currently include a few things: watches, leather goods, bicycles, and some other odds and ends like doggie leashes.

Watches-traditional
Watches-traditional (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There were many things revealed in the interview that piqued missjunebug’s interest. Obviously, she likes his name: Daniel. That’s TinyJB’s non-internet nom! And she relates directly to his birth sign: Libra. He claims it accounts for his wanting “to make everything really pretty.” missjunebug thinks this is a worthwhile ambition in what can otherwise be a very gritty world.

His fave getaway? A spot near the Russian River in northern Cali. Cool. And his weakness? Milk chocolate! missjunebug actually considers this a strength! Mr. Caudill probably has a charming disposition because of such a fine junk-food/treat selection. And did missjunebug mention that Mr. Caudill’s object of desire if money were no object is an apartment in Paris? That’s mjb kind of thinking! Sans doute! 

But what she really found encouraging about Mr. Caudill is his fresh thinking. He wants to help make some stuff in the United States! Imagine manufacturing a luxury watch line in Detroit! Unheard of! Well, Daniel C. and the team at Shinola are doing just that! And believe missjunebug when she says these watches are fine! (Her fab Shinola timepiece is on its way from Nordie’s as she writes!)

How great that Mr. Caudill’s big time (pun intended) obsession is quality construction. Add to that the American-made obsession and triple good things can happen. Mr. C. definitely knows Scheiße from Shinola. This new iteration of an iconic American company will polish off any doubts that homegrown manufacturing is permanently stalled. Shinola is Good for the country! Good for the repurposed workers of Detroit! Good for the consumer (including mjb!). Three cheers for Shinola and the fab Mr.C!

Yo: A Revolutionary Devolutionary App!

missjunebug loves the way the new app Yo keeps it simple.  She’s particularly fond of it because her ElderJB has used this abbreviated greeting for years, unless, of course, he’s super enthusiastic and then he says: Yo Yo.

Yes, that’s right: there is an app for that. An app that sends a greeting/affirmation/confirmation/dispensation/rectification/notification in two simple letters: Yo. Tired of texting and getting misunderstood because of aggressive autocorrection? Try Yo. Need to let someone know they need to contact you or assist you? Try Yo. Want to keep in touch with a significant other and just let them know you are thinking of them with a two-letter shout out? You gotta go for Yo.

English: Pedro Flores Yo-yo Circ. 1928-1929
English: Pedro Flores Yo-yo Circ. 1928-1929 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, missjunebug is not making this app up! Its creation was commissioned by Moshe Hogeg who grew weary of texting laboriously to his assistant, for…well…assistance. Mr. Hogeg is the CEO of Mobli, a photo and video sharing service who contacted Or Arbel, a former techie employee at Mobli to figure out how to solve Hogeg’s problem. Arbel came up with Yo, the app that allows users to say Yo to their contacts and like ElderJB, if they are really enthusiastic they can double tap the contact and send out a Yo Yo.

Can missjunebug hear a What What?

Before you scoff her off, be warned that Yo (It’s That Simple) has been financed to the tune of a cool million bucks and an equal amount of priceless buzz. Some of that buzz comes from Mr. Hogeg who sees a whole new way to do lightweight, unobtrusive communications with those people we are in close contact with that are, yes, in our contacts!

missjunebug wonders how soon Mark Z. will scoop up this laconic app with the two-letter one-word lexicon. P.D.Q. she suspects.

missjunebug also wonders about all the ways Yo can communicate some useful messages when Mr. Hogeg’s team finesses this app. Yo: Notify a missjunebug reader that there’s a new post to read? Maybe. Yo: Let a soccer fan track World Cup goals scored? Why not?

Keep your sweetie from feeling neglected? Yo. Yo.

It’s all about the Yo.

Anticipating Travel Yields Happiness

A male polar bear
A male polar bear (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug recently read about a study headed by Jeroen Nawijn, tourism research lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands that made a lot of sense to her. Returning from a relaxing vacation is no guarantee of a lasting happiness boost.

According to his research group in the Netherlands that took a look at the vacationing Dutch, after a return to typical life as they knew it, happiness leveled off in a couple of weeks.

While that’s not particularly good news, there was a bright side to this study: Happiness grew in anticipating and planning the trip. For up to eight weeks!

missjunebug and her Trusty Mr.JB agree that there’s nothing quite like having a trip to look forward to! Online research! Fares to compare! What to do, see, eat, wear when you get there! And thanks to the internet–maybe the best invention of the 20th century for knowledge access–trip planning is an art form all its own that can be as minutely nuanced or broad-stroked as you like.

Currently, missjunebug is tracking down books on polar bears, Churchill, Manitoba, and the Aurora Borealis for a fall trip to the Arctic hinterlands of Canada. The most interesting thing she’s found out so far is that troublesome polar bears who are under the mistaken impression that they are townies are put in Polar Bear Jail to break that bad habit! Confined for a time with only water, then moved back out to wilderness in a tranquilized state disabuses them of the notion that a roam through town is a fine idea.  All she’s found out so far about the AB is that it’s green. More research needed! Believe missjunebug when she says that reading about these Arctic features may be a lot more fun than freezing while she actually views them.

Which brings missjunebug back to the initial premise: Anticipating and planning travel is a no-fail path to happiness for a good amount of time. How to improve on that? Plan a couple of trips a year for twice the anticipatory fun.  Or think about multiple long-weekend trips that you can experience throughout the year! Once-a-month Fun x 12! Did missjunebug hear someone say, “Road Trip!”? Yes, another fun vacay to plan, anticipate, and then hit the road knowing it’s all about the journey, not the destination.

Happiness maybe be elusive and vacations may be tricky , but missjunebug still likes the reward of looking forward to travel while enjoying the present moment planning !

Sawasdee in Simi Valley: Thai Thai Again!

Green Curry: Silky, Savory, Sublime! Photo by mjb2014
Green Curry: Silky, Savory, Sublime! Photo by mjb2014

How do you say “Hi” in Thai?

Try “Sawasdee.” Once you’ve perfected that greeting, you can move on to the Sawasdee Thai Restaurant and meet and greet some delicious dishes!

Sawasdee Thai Restaurant in Simi Valley comes recommended to missjunebug by way of her fabulous haircutter at The New Technique located in the same unadorned L-shaped Strip (Mini) Mall. missjunebug recommends both of them highly!

Recently after a fab haircut, missjunebug popped into Sawasdee Thai for a little lunch. She had the magical, sliver-thin Silver Noodles with chicken and super fresh veggies! So good it cannot be described in mere words. You must sample for yourself…soon!

Sawasdee has even passed the Trusty MrJB food crucible: Are the Koy See Me crispy noodles awesome or just average? MrJB votes AWESOME! missjunebug moved onto the glorious Green Curry for her Sawasdee dinner indulgence and that silky, savory, sublime substance did not disappoint! For missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB, the signifier of a great restaurant is the simple answer to the simple question: Do you want to eat here again? The answer for a Sawasdee Thai Restaurant return is a resounding Yes!

If you are in the Valley of Simi soon, enjoy Sawasdee Thai at 1960 Sequoia Ave. This place maybe a little out of the way, but the food is way, way wonderful.

 

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Colorful Fun at Conejo Valley ART WALK 2014

missjunebug and her trusty MrJB took a stroll through the Art Walk  sponsored by the Conejo Valley Art Museum. What fun! A wide variety of artists are represented from photographers, watercolorists, oil painters, sculptors, sign makers, jewelry makers, and even tamale makers! There are some tasty eats to accompany the delicious art works.

mjb and Mr.JB bought their first Donald Archer painting here a long day ago (as ElderJB used to say) and have been collecting art work of one kind or another ever since. Art always passes the triple test: Is it beautiful? Is it useful? Is it meaningful? What is its use you might ask? To make missjunebug’s day, everyday!

Here’s the art work they found today they couldn’t live without:

IMG_4453

All hail Limoncello! Fun to drink! Fun to look at when so lovingly composed in this original watercolor by the Watercolor Chef Leslee Adams. Ms. Adams hails from Palm Springs where she operates her own catering/pastry business having been trained at The Ritz Escoffier in Paris in 1990. Now she juggles paintbrushes as well as pastry brushes!  Leslee gets missjunebug and Trusty Mr.JB’s vote for best artist of the juried show!

Check out her work at the Art Walk 2014 along with a host of other artists.

Saturday & Sunday June 7th & 8th, 2014
10 am to 5 pm
Admission and Parking are Free.

Food and Beverages, Live Music
Children’s Hands-on Art

Bank of America Building (Formerly Countrywide)
225 W Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, Ca 91360
Exit 101 Ventura Freeway at Lynn or Moorpark Rd.

mjbTip: Buy local original art! The pleasure it provides is priceless!

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missjunebug’s Yes! Yeast Rolls!

White Cow's Shadow Sneaks In On Unsuspecting Yes! Yeast Rolls! Photo by mjb2014
White Cow’s Shadow Sneaks In On Unsuspecting Yes! Yeast Rolls! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug spent a little time in her kitchen this weekend baking up some super delicious, super easy Yes! Yeast Rolls! In fact that’s what she and her trusty Mr.JB had for dinner last night. Bread being the Staff of Life, missjunebug is all for having some homemade SofL every once in a while.

missjunebug has a dear friend who calls such white flour concoctions Frankenbread, being on an anti-gluten crusade in her own life. To her friend missjunebug has two things to say: “De gustibus non est disputandum” and “You only live once!” Seriously, she appreciates her friend’s efforts at living a nutritionally clean life–would that missjunebug could be so disciplined, but if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, dear Reader, you must know missjunebug is erratic inconsistent whimsical in her nutritional leanings so she figures the occasional unbleached King Arthur White Flour yeast roll can only nourish her little bug soul if not her little bug body. C’est la vie!

So without further ado or rationalization missjunebug presents

missjunebug’s Yes! Yeast Rolls!

Adapted from a recipe mjb found somewhere in the never ending, constantly refreshing, infinitely entertaining, always inspiring annals of Pinterest.

Super Simple Ingredients

2 sticks butter

1 cup water

3/4 cups sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 eggs (Organic!–could help counteract the demon white flour)

2 packets of Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast

1 cup warm water

6 cups King Arthur unbleached white bread flour

Super Simple Directions

Warm up your oven for a while at about 225 degrees, then turn it off. This will be the perfect place to let your dough rise.

Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan. Remove from heat and add the 2 sticks of butter. Stir until melted.

Add sugar and salt. Stir until dissolved. Set aside to cool.

Whip up the eggs with a wire wisk in a small bowl until nice and creamy. Add to cooled butter/sugar/salt mixture. missjunebug suggests you now transfer this mixture to your Kitchen Aid mixer!

In a separate bowl, add 2 packages of yeast to 1 cup lukewarm water. Stir and add a teaspoon of sugar if you feel the need to proof the yeast (checking to see it is still active!). If the mixture double in volume and foams nicely, your yeast is alive and well.

Add the yeast mixture to the butter/sugar/salt mixture. Combine and then begin to add the flour one cup at a time until all the flour has been blended into the b/s/s/y mixture. missjunebug uses the regular Kitchen Aid paddle, not the dough hook to combine the flour with the b/s/s/y mixture.

Grease a large glass bowl with butter. Transfer the dough to the glass bowl and then flip it over! That way both sides are buttered up.

Cover with a lightweight kitchen towel and place in over to rise for 1 hour. Remove dough from bowl and place on floured cutting board to knead by hand for 2-3 minutes. Place back in bowl and let rise for a second time for about 30 minutes.

After second rising, place dough on floured board, roll out with a rolling pin, and cut into rounds using a biscuit cutter or pint-size glass. Silpat or parchment paper-up your cookie sheets and place rolls two or so inches apart. Let rise one more time for about 45 minutes.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10-14 minutes. Keep watch for golden brownness! Remove from oven, slather with butter, and enjoy!

These rolls are easily frozen and reheated in a toaster oven for daily deliciousness!

Long live the Yes! Yeast Roll!

Golden Brown Rounds of Yeasty Goodness! Photo by mjb2014
Golden Brown Rounds of Yeasty Goodness! Photo by mjb2014
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One Acre Fund + AmazonSmile = Easy Peasy Donation!

Rwanda and Burundi, with surrounding countries...
Rwanda and Burundi, with surrounding countries highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug is a fervent supporter of oneacrefund.org, the NGO ElderJB and his lovely bride work for. Their motto: Farmers First! If you’d like to read about the work of One Acre Fund, check out the book by Roger Turow entitled The Hunger Season which tells the story of the NGO’s work in Kenya. That work has been expanded way beyond Kenyan borders to include Rwanda, Burundi, and new pilot projects in other East African countries as well.

Which brings missjunebug to this nifty announcement by One Acre Fund she received in her email today. Check it out:

SUPPORT ONE ACRE FUND WHILE SHOPPING AT AMAZON.COM

When you make your Amazon purchases through AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com), the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5 percent of the price of eligible purchases to your preferred charitable organization, at no additional cost to you. Support our farm families just by shopping for the items you already want to buy!

missjunebug is a huge fan of Amazon.com for purchasing just about everything and now she can help out her fave a hand-up, not a hand-out organization: One Acre Fund.  Doubtless, a double good win-win for missjunebug and the awesome farmers of East Africa!

Woo to the hoo x 10!

mjbTip: Try smile.amazon.com and donate to your fave organization! If you use Google Chrome you can even download a one-click button that will take you directly to AmazonSmile to make your everyday Amazon purchases. That .5% will add up quickly with your help!

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Garance Doré: missjunebug’s New Crush

English: Vogue magazine cover, May 1917 Españo...
English: Vogue magazine cover, May 1917 Español: Portada de la revista Vogue correspondiente a Mayo de 1917 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug would hardly consider herself a fashionista, but ever since seeing the Devil Wears Prada, she’s appreciated the influence of the Anna Wintours and Christian Louboutins of the world. Not to mention Pantone’s color of the year crew who must come up with a cool and influential color that will reign supreme for the appointed calendar year. missjunebug is pretty sure that color will end up in your closet, too! (2014: Radiant Orchid!)

Which brings missjunebug to her latest find that provides the perfect follow-up to her Learning a Second Language post—(French! Naturally!). And that is the beautiful, useful, entertaining, and fashion forward blog of the very lovely and very French Garance Doré. www.garancedore.fr/en

What fun!

Fashion has never been so fabulous. Seen through the discerning lens of this multi-talented illustrator, interviewer, writer, blogger, and New York transplant, the fashion world almost makes sense. Garance Doré does for fashion what Pioneer Woman does for home arts. And that is to say: A Lot.

Doré’s lively blog focuses on Style (Edits, Street Style, Fashion Week, and Shopping) Beauty (Hair, Make-up, Skin and Wellness) Stories (of particular interest: Pardon My French), and Lifestyle (Travels, Interiors, and Culture). There are months and months of material here that will delight and entertain and enlighten!

mjbTip: Check out Garance Doré’s inspiring insights!

 

 

 

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Learning a Second Language? Try these!

World map with countries where French is an of...
World map with countries where French is an official language marked. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug has a love of all things French: croissants, Gigondas wine, the arrondissements of Paris (1-9 primarily!), crepes (a squeeze of lemon and sugar, s’il vous plait!), santons, Provence, and so much more. And she’s always had a soft spot in her heart for the mellifluous sounds of the French language, but she’s had a hard time learning it.

First, there was high school French. Blech. Despite advance placing out of three semesters of French for college credit, she had mastered little in terms of direct communication in the language when other human beings were involved instead of multiple choice answers.

Later she picked up a little traveler’s French and much later tried her hand at Rosetta Stone: High Cost & Epic Fail. Unless you want to learn a bunch of sentences in French about blue triangles being larger than red circles.

Not to be a bug who gives up easily, missjunebug is trying again with two programs she’s found online. Coffeebreak French is fun and loaded with free lessons online that provide a nice springboard in listening to the language and trying to get a grip on the tricky pronunciations. Oddly, the student learner who assists in the program has a serious Scottish accent as does the teacher directing the lesson, but it makes the experience that much more entertaining when she takes on French guided by her fellow congenial Scottish teacher. Of course, they offer many other languages, too!

The second program she’s just started is DuoLingo, a free app for missjunebug’s iPhone where a wise little owl encourages goal setting and completion of some pretty challenging French lessons. missjunebug found out about this app in her awesome Wall Street Journal Personal Journal section recently–her fave resource for nifty learning ideas, book recs, fashion finds, and so many other things (The WSJ rocks). But missjunebug digresses. If you want to learn a second language on the go, go to DuoLingo. The phone app is a great combination of fill-in the blank, choose the right word, say the sentence aloud–it will let you know if you approximate the correct pronunciation. You can even test out on the work you’ve mastered. All this and some nifty visuals to keep your interest, too. So much good stuff crammed into this cute little Owl-centric app! It is a wise piece of work for sure.

mjbTip: Don’t rest on your mastery of the English language: Try a second language on for size. It could be the perfect fit…eventually! Bon chance, mon ami!

 

 

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Ode to a Veggie Sandwich

Who knew veggies could be so good? Photo by mjb2014
Who knew veggies could be so good? Photo by mjb2014

Ode to a Veggie Sandwich

by missjunebug

It’s starts with Dave

And his Killer Bread

All 21 whole grains.

Toast it up

Slather on

French’s finest

yellow as the sun mustard.

Yum.

Pile on in no particular order:

Avocado. Buttery, brilliant CAvocado,

Radish sprouts, cute as commas

Spinach, baby-leafed green on green

Tomatoes sliced, juicy and cheerful

as laughing mouths.

Then grab that very veggie veritable feast

and put it in yours!

 

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Book of the Decade! Photo by mjb2014
Book of the Decade! Photo by mjb2014

Donna Tartt’s expansive coming-of-age tale The Goldfinch won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction today.

missjunebug is beside herself with joy. As she said in her January post: Book of the Decade. Worth repeating today.

mjbTip: Do yourself a favor. Read it.

The Quantified missjunebug

Uh oh. missjunebug better step on it! Only 654 Steps for today. Photo by mjb2014
Uh oh. missjunebug better step on it! Only 654 Steps for today. Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug is sporting a chic new bracelet lately: Her Fitbit Force!

She’s having some serious fun with this sleek little gizmo that measures the time of day (Sorry trusty and venerable Swiss Army Victorinox now languishing in missjunebug’s jewelry drawer!), number of steps taken, number of miles walked, number of calories burned, number of floors taken, and number of active minutes suffered exercised! Whew! missjunebug gets tired just listing all these fab features.

Now all of that information is well and good, inspirational and aspirational! But the part missjunebug thinks is too cool for school is the surprise vibe that hugs her wrist when she hits the magic 10,000 steps. Woo to the hoo X 10!

That makes for a very good day for missjunebug who is trying to get her exercise game back on after six months of chemotherapy infusions and other medical insults to her little bug body! Along with the little vibration comes a flashing “10,000!” on her Fitbit Force miniscreen. It feels like a solid albeit silent round of applause for her efforts.

But perhaps missjunebug should mention that in the two months she’s used her fab Fitbit, she’s only seen that flashing number three times. (wah wah) missjunebug must try harder! move more! get up earlier! stay up later!

Or she could do what a couple Mr.JB knows does before they go to bed at night: walk around their bedroom until they hit the magic 10,000! Ha! Clever people. Why didn’t missjunebug think of that?

If you are interested in tracking things and quantifying your little self, take a look at the Fitbit Force and its iphone App that helps you effortlessly track calories, sleep patterns, and water consumption as well. That’s some Big Data from a little black band.

mjbTip: The Quantified Self rocks! Get a fitbit for some number fun!

Who needs a watch? Just use the Fitbit! Photo by mjb2014
Who needs a watch? Just use the Fitbit! Photo by mjb2014
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Texas-Style BBQ in SoCali: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit

A Plateful of Wonderful! Photo by mjb2014
A Plateful of Wonderful! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB checked out a local restaurant recently (Yes, again! They eat out a lot!) that exceeded all expectations: Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Simi Valley.

This little hole-in-the-wall located in the same center Border’s used to be in on Tapo Canyon Blvd. is unassuming, friendly, and fun. Oh yeah, and the food is great, too! Brisket! Hot rolls! Polish sausage! Fried okra! Coleslaw! Coca-cola (not the P-word)! Free soft serve ice-cream for dessert! There are a ton of other tasty items on their menu board and believe missjunebug when she says that they are truly Texas worthy!

This hot little franchise originated in Dallas, home of the best barbecue in the world: Red’s Barbecue. Nothing tops that family fave that missjunebug grew up on (Thanks, JBDad for all that smokey, wood-fired, ReeDiculously Delicious brisket cooked up in the backyard on long, lazy, humid, pecan tree-shaded weekends. May you r.i.p, Red! XOXO). But Dickey’s gives it a good try and pretty much succeeds in pleasing mjb’s palate.

According to Dickey’s website, “Today, every location smokes all of their meats on-site at the restaurant the same way it was done in 1941. Dickey’s serves up beef brisket, pulled pork, ham, polish sausage, turkey breast and chicken, with an extensive array of home-style sides from jalapeño beans to macaroni and cheese. Buttery rolls are served with every meal along with the complimentary ice cream and dill pickles. And just like always, kids eat free on Sunday.”

What? Kids eat free on Sunday! Way to go, Dickey’s! That’s a family-friendly deal fo sho!

missjunebug hopes you’ll give Dickey’s a try with or without kidlets,  just so you can experience the mouth-watering wonder of a smoke-soaked, juicy barbecue brisket like her dear JBDad used to make. It is a thing of savory wonder!

If you are in SoCali or just about anywhere across the nation, (many Dickey’s franchises have sprung up since 1941!) check out Dickey’s and try the brisket and fried okra–the f.o. tastes much better than you are thinking right about now!

missjunebug visited the Dickey’s at 2902 Tapo Canyon Road Simi Valley, CA 93063
(805) 577-7675, but you can find them in Ventura, Northridge, Pasadena, and a few other SoCali locales. And you better believe they are all over Dallas! Take a quick trip to their colorful website and find out all Dickey’s has to offer. missjunebug is happy to recommend the flavors of her childhood summed up in a smokey brisket! Enjoy!

If you happen to be vegetarian, well, Dickey’s may not be for you, unless you don’t mind just eating awesome side dishes! In which case, skip looking at the cool cow chart below and check out the menu board for sumptuous sides!

Brisket in the beef cut chart.
Brisket in the beef cut chart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It's Looking Up at Dickey's! Photo by mjb2014
Things are Looking Up at Dickey’s! Photo by mjb2014
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Live Opera! at Your Local Cinema! in HD!

THE POLOVTSY CAMP. Stage-set design for Act Tw...
THE POLOVTSY CAMP. Stage-set design for Act Two of the opera “Prince Igor by Borodin. 1930 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB have discovered live opera close to home. Check out Metropolitan Opera http://www.metoperafamily.org/hdlive to find out more about upcoming performances LIVE! from the Met! Yes, that Met! in New York City! at your local cinema. mjb and trusty Mr.JB had a fine time watching Borodin’s Prince Igor celebrate life, endure war, and begin to rebuild his shattered homeland. The selling point for Mr.JB? No travels on the 405 to get to the LA Opera! Selling point for missjunebug? The voices, of course! And the backstage tours and interviews, complete with a Russian translator for the principal singers. Okay, missjunebug must admit it is not as great as the real live deal, but it’s a close second, and sometimes a close second can be better than a distant first!

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SPY Time!

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB had a fine time at the Ronald Reagan Library & Museum last Sunday checking out the soon-to-be-closing exhibit SPY: The Secret World of Espionage. She urges immediate compliance with her order that you make sure you see it if you are anywhere near Simi Valley!

Minox
Minox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Clandestine craft will be revealed! According to the RRL&M website the exhibit is “unprecedented.” Check out the umbrella with the poison tip! The mini document cameras! The ice pick used to assassinate Leon Trotsky! What? Yeah, it’s there! The OTPs (One Time Pad) that were used to create virtually uncrackable codes! Too cool for school, but perfect for spies! The secret compartments in shoes! Lipstick cases! Matchboxes! Those spies were super tricky! There are nearly 300 documents and spy gadgets from the CIA, the KGB, the FBI, and the National Reconnaissance Office that will amaze you. But that’s not all! There are some super spy interactive displays that are just plain fun. Run through a laser maze! Disguise your voice! Learn secret writing!

The exhibit even has a video of a Russian dead drop that took place in 2010!!! The Cold War may be over but Spy vs. Spy still continues! However, the exhibit does not. It wraps up on March 9, 2014, so do not miss it!

Then after all that spy fun, go have a beer at the Ronald Reagan Pub right underneath the awesome Air Force One. The beer is chill: the view, sublime. Cheers!

If you choose to accept this mission set your coordinates for 40 Presidential Drive Simi Valley, CA. 93065 and complete it by March 9.

mjbTip: missjunebug is now ready to watch the Second Season of The Americans where Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys play (practically) heartless KGB agents living among us doing Moscow’s relentless dirty work! missjunebug has it on good authority that even Vladimir P. tunes in to this show! Maybe you should check it out!

But first take a look at the photos missjunebug took with her tiny  I-spy-phone5 camera:

Tiny but effective. Photo by mjb2014
Customizable Matchbox Camera. Cool EK! Photo by mjb2014
Holy Moly! It's the real deal. (But not the skull: replica) Photo by mjb2014
Holy Moly! It’s the real deal. (But not the skull: replica) Photo by mjb2014
Nyet, Comrade!! Photo by mjb2014
Nyet spaseeba, Comrade!! Photo by mjb2014
On the West Side: Flower Power for Real. Photo by mjb2014
On the West Side of the Berlin Wall: Flower Power for Real. Photo by mjb2014

 

On the East Side: An enforced blank slate.  Photo by mjb2014
On the East Side: An enforced blank slate. Photo by mjb2014
Perfect R&R locale. Photo by mjb2014
Perfect R&R locale. Get it? R&R! Photo by mjb2014

 

Pub with a View Photo by mjb2014
Pub with a View. Hey, MrJB, get your hand out of the pic! Photo by mjb2014
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DAYNES Brings It: Authentic Chicago-Style Italian Beef

Chicago Beef: Beefed Up with Sweet Bell Peppers Photo by mjb2014
Chicago Beef: Beefed Up with Sweet Bell Peppers Photo by mjb2014

Trusty Mr.JB is happy as a clam since trying out the Chicago-style Italian Beef sandwich at DAYNES in Thousand Oaks. It is the real deal. missjunebug spotted this colorful eatery after a quick cuppa at Chocolatine (located right next door) on Thousand Oaks Boulevard and she convinced Mr.JB to give it a go. Believe missjunebug when she says he is glad he did!

It’s a bit jarring to leave the languor and sophistication of the French-inspired Chocolatine cafe and coffee enclave and enter the graffiti-bright graphics of DAYNES, but that’s the beauty of the strip mall, n’est-ce pas? 

For their first visit, missjunebug ordered the Beef and Sweet Peppers; Mr.JB, the Combo. With the order comes plenty of napkins because these sandwiches are ridiculously juicy. Eat ’em up fast so your plump sandwich roll doesn’t get soggy! Yep, they are that juicy!

For their next visit: the Chicago Dawg. Can’t wait to taste its authenticity! Celery Salt included!

If you are a Midwestern transplant missing that savory flavor of the Chicagoland Italian Beef-style sandwich, or you are just a hungry, hungry local, Daynes Chicago Beef and Dawgs can hook you up!!! Check out their website www.dayneschicagobeef.com for more information or swing by their little restaurant of really good eats at 2951 East Thousand Oaks Boulevard in T.O. missjunebug is sure you will savor the flavor!

The Works: Sausage, Beef, Giardiniera!
The Works: Sausage, Beef, Giardiniera!

mjb’s Next Culinary Pursuit? Locating Authentic Texas-style Barbeque in SoCali. And she thinks she’s got a lead on where to find it. Stay tuned.

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missjunebug turns a New Page: Wisdom Words

The Canongate Wall façade of the parliamentary...
The Canongate Wall façade of the parliamentary complex has quotations inscribed onto pieces of rock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

so missjunebug thought it would be fun and inspiring to begin a new page on her little blog:

Wisdom Words

Click on the tab above, right next to “About missjunebug.”

This page will (periodically) highlight some smarty-pants wisdom she’s come across and stickied to her Macbook Pro Dashboard. She has so many Wisdom Words stickies stacked up on top of each other than she can barely read all the daily weather reports she tracks for her hometown, Elder JB’s (Kigali, Rwanda), Tiny JB’s (Lafayette, IN), JBbro&JBsis-in-law’s (Dallas, TX), Mr.JB’s erstwhile hometown (Chicago, IL), and a few of missjunebug’s aspire-to-visit-again cities including Paris, New York, Palm Springs, and Las Vegas (to see a friend, not to gamble!)

missjunebug thought her readers would appreciate the Wisdom Words much more than the daily temperatures and weather conditions around the country. And it will go a long way toward cleaning up her cluttered dashboard.

ElderJB and TinyJB and sometimes even trusty Mr.JB have been the past recipients of mjb’s Wisdom Words in a slew of emails. She thinks they could probably use a break from the onslaught of edification: she’s decided to edify elsewhere. That’s where missjunebug’s readers come in.

Just click on Wisdom Words for the first one and the (periodically) succeeding entries!

And maybe, just maybe, she and her beloved readers will grow a little bit wiser (periodically)!

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missjunebug’s Apricot Nut Bread: The Perfect Start to the Day!

A Loaf of Deliousness! Photo by mjb2014
A Loaf of Deliousness! Photo by mjb2014

missjunebug has a love of all things nutty and apricoty. When the two are in combination she’s twice as happy. If you find yourself occasionally craving some carbs, try this sweet little tea bread on for size. missjunebug thinks you’ll find it fits your appetite perfectly!

missjunebug’s Apricot Nut Bread  

2 1/2 cups unbleached flour

1 cup sugar

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

3 tablespoons Canola oil

3/4 cup orange juice

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

4 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 cup chopped dried aprictos

1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a loaf pan (9x5x3inch or two mini loaf pans). Measure all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and chopped fruit and nuts. Mix well with hand mixer or Kitchen Aid, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 50-60 minutes depending upon the idiosyncrasies of your oven! Check the doneness of the loaf with a toothpick–it should come out clean when inserted in center. Cool on a rack for about 15 minutes, then invert pan and remove loaf. It should come out easily!

Serve warm, cold, or toasted. Slice thin and smear with butter or cream cheese or apricot Stilton cheese spread!! Divine!

mjbTip: Make some tea bread today! It’s super easy and super delicious!

Little White Hen Looks on  Approvingly! Photo by mjb2014
Little White Hen Looks on Approvingly! Photo by mjb2014

 

 

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Reading: Its Own Reward

Book of the Decade! Photo by mjb2014
Book of the Decade! Photo by mjb2014

“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.”
Virginia Woolf

missjunebug is way behind her time in writing a new blog post! She has been very, very busy reading and rereading some wonderful books. Here’s her current shortlist for fab reads:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt is a stunning narrative that follows a young Theo Decker through loss, grief, and ultimately redemption. What. a. book.

The Dinner by Herman Koch is a darker, more satiric view of a couple of young, overprivileged youths run amuck and their sociopathic parental units. Disturbing x 10 but worth your time.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach has everything a good book should have: great, relatable characters, strong dialogue, literary leitmotifs à la Herman Melville, and some great moral take-aways. Even if you can’t stand baseball, you will enjoy this novel. Chad’s hit a first-time-up-to-the-plate home run!

The Tenth of December by George Saunders is a short story collection that is long on substance and searing satire. G.S. is the king of voice creation with each story having a compelling and distinctive style. missjunebug’s fave? Has to be “Semplica-Girl Diaries.”

Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith is a crime story with a difference: It’s really written by J.K. Rowling. And it’s really good. missjunebug is a big fan of Detective Cormoran Strike. With a name like that, how can he not be awesome! Note to J.K.R.: Sequel, please!

Now missjunebug is moving on to The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert of Eat, Pray, Love fame. Should be good!

mjbTip: If you find yourself not finding time to read, join a book club. It’s the best way missjunebug can think of to keep motivated to keep reading and sharing. And believe her when she says, “Sharing is the best part!”

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Fogo Island? One Fine Cape Verde Locale

Wow! missjunebug has been away from her post for a while! Cruising! Chemo infusions! Recovering from chemo infusions! But now her bags are unpacked, her laundry is done, and her energy has returned in time for her to share a highlight from one last trip she and Mr.JB took to wrap up 2013: a transatlantic crossing from Santa Cruz de Tenerife to Western Sahara with a day on Fogo Island and a whole lot of days at sea. What did they see? Not the total solar eclipse they hoped to see (deep sigh). The clouds gathered around their Barbados-bound vessel the Sea Dream One made sure of that.

Can you spot the tiny total solar eclipse? missjunebug can't either! Photo by mjb2013
See the tiny total solar eclipse? missjunebug can’t either! Photo by mjb2013

But the day on Fogo Island did not disappoint!

First things first: the people of Fogo make all their own wine which they consume themselves! What a smart local population! No exporting required here! Of course, tourists are encouraged to enjoy a wine tasting and take a bottle back to their ship which Mr.JB thought was a fine idea! The locals probably really need that wine to cope with the fact that they live on an island that is an active volcano too, last erupting in 1995. No wonder the Portuguese named this island Fogo or Fire Island!

The volcano takes the form of a 9-km wide caldera which has walls 1 km high. That is one deep “cooking pot”! But the coolest part is the large peak that rises in the center forming the highest point of the island, 100 meters higher than the caldera’s walls. missjunebug’s reaction? Stunning! And believe her when she says she’s seen some volcanos, but none as beautiful as this one! Take a look:

Volcano Beauty!
Volcano Beauty! Photo by mjb2013

The solidified ropey lava that  surrounds the outlying areas of the volcano is a a thing of beauty in itself but tricky to walk on. missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB did their shoe shot to highlight its tricky texture:

Lava flows: Crunchy Underfoot! Photo by mjb2013
Lava flows: Crunchy Underfoot! Photo by mjb2013
At the base of the cone, more beauty. Photo by mjb2013
At the base of the cone, more beauty. Photo by mjb2013

With all this volcanic activity, the island’s soil can support some serious plant growth. missjunebug delighted in the poinsettia plants that grow with abandon! Their beauty provides missjunebug with the perfect transition to her next blog post, yes, you guessed it: The Most Wonderful Time of the Year! Maybe. Maybe not.

Pretty in Pink Poinsettias
Pretty in Pink Poinsettias. Photo by mjb2013

 

Worth a close-up! Photo by mjb2013
Worth a close-up! Photo by mjb2013
mjbTip: Need an exotic travel destination? Consider Fogo Island for some fiery fun!
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Short Post: Worth Reading

Out fo a nice Kayak Morning...
Out fo a nice Kayak Morning… (Photo credit: BenSpark)

 

missjunebug has been doing some interesting reading lately. She came across a quotation in Roger Rosenblatt‘s  book of personal meditation entitled Kayak Morning reflections on love, grief, and smallboats that is not only worth sharing, it is worth living by. Read it and believe. Then act on it!

 

Be kind, for everyone you meet is carrying a great burden.

 

Attributed to Philo

 

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Welcome October!

missjunebug loves fall in SoCali!  The fall of blazing orange pumpkins, cool, crisp weather (almost here!), clear dark-sky nights (rain by Thanksgiving), sweater warmth (cashmere, please!), and plenty of practice baking going on so that missjunebug can be ready for pie duty on Thanksgiving day. So how has missjunebug been preparing herself for all that’s fall?

First, she headed to her fave pumpkin patch at Underwood Farms 3370 Sunset Valley Road in Moorpark and picked some perfect pumpkins for her porch! (Whew! So alliterative!) Take a look:

A Wheelbarrow Full of Pumpkin Fun! Photo by mjb2013
A Wheelbarrow Full of Pumpkin Fun! Photo by mjb2013

 

Ghost pumpkins! So spooky the orange ones cower! Photo by mjb2013
Ghost pumpkins! So spooky the orange ones cower! Photo by mjb2013

 

Pumpkins almost as far as the eye can see! Photo by mjb2013
Pumpkins almost as far as the eye can see! Photo by mjb2013

 

missjunebug worked up a serious appetite and decided it was time to make one of her fave cookie recipes: Monster Cookies! So appropriate for the Halloween month of October. Are they scary? Not really. Just big and fun and delicious. The secret: No flour! Just some healthy oats, some (maybe not so healthy) sugars, peanut butter and voilà! Monster Cookies! Easy to make. Easy to eat. Easy to freeze for later!

Here’s are the recipes for a ton o’ cookies (the first one) and a half ton o’ cookies (the second one):

missjunebug’s Not-So-Scary Monster Cookies

Full Recipe

1 dozen eggs

2 lbs brown sugar

4 cups granulated sugar

1 T. vanilla

2 T. Karo syrup

8 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 lb. butter

3 lbs. peanut butter

18 cups Quaker Old-Fashioned Oats

1 lb. M&Ms

12 0z. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Beat the room temperature butter until nice and creamy. Add the sugars, vanilla, syrup, and baking soda. Add the eggs and beat in a few at a time. Next, blend in the peanut butter until the mixture is thick and semi-gooey! Throw in the oats, M&Ms, and chocolate chips and you are good to go. Scoop a large size cookie onto Silpat-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 13 to 18 minutes, depending upon how crispy you want the cookie to be. missjunebug likes hers super crispy, but it’s up to your taste!

Remember what missjunebug says: “De gustibus non est disputandum!” There’s no accounting for taste (so each to his/her own!)

Too many cookies? Yeah, this Full Recipe makes about 12-14 dozen depending upon the individual size of the cookie. That’s a lot o’ cookies!!!

Try this instead:

Half Recipe

6 eggs

1 lb. brown sugar (= 2 cups)

2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 T. vanilla

1 T. Karo syrup

4 tsp. soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 lb. butter

1 1/2 lbs. peanut butter

9 cups Quaker Old-Fashioned Oatmeal

1/2 lb. M&Ms

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Throw in a bowl and beat the heck out of the ingredients. (Not really. Just read above Full Recipe for how to combine the ingredients!)

These cookies should be stored in an airtight tin or container. You can also Ziploc them into freezer bags and save some for later!

Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl! Photo by mjb2013
Throw all the ingredients in a big bowl! Photo by mjb2013

 

Form a big cookie using a couple of tablespoons. Photo by mjb2013
Form a big cookie using a couple of tablespoons. Photo by mjb2013

 

Cook until crisp and cool! Delicious! Photo by mjb2013
Cook until crisp and cool! Delicious! Photo by mjb2013

 

mjbTip: Go out and have some fall fun! Welcome October indeed!

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Some Nature! Some Science! Some Museum!: Perot Museum of Nature and Science

What an ingenious architectural achievement this building is! Photo by mjb2013
What an ingenious architectural achievement this building is! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has been doing some fun traveling lately, yall! She headed to Big D little a double l a s and that spells D-A-L-L-A-S, her darlin’ darlin’ Dallas! What a fine city! What a gorgeous downtown! And what a cool new museum now resides there, conveniently located right next to missjunebug’s fave traditional Tex-Mex restaurant El Fenix! What more could a little bug ask for?

A big Texas-sized thanks goes to her awesome JBBro for thinking up this fab field trip! missjunebug’s little bug brain almost exploded from all the knowledge contained in the Perot Museum of Nature and Science and its 11 permanent Exhibit Halls, five of which missjunebug fell in love with. She took a tour through the Expanding Universe Hall which was big enough to hold a 3D animated journey all the way through the solar system. So cool. Lots of deep space Hubble Telescope pics to scope out and plenty of info about the major players in the space biz: Galileo, Newton, Hershel, and Hubble to name a few.

Back here on Earth in the Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall, missjunebug was terrified by tornado and hurricane videos and stood in awe of the Touch Tornado exhibit that simulates the airflows that create tornados. But perhaps the one exhibit that hit a little too close to home was the Earthquake Shake “immersive experience.” Can you say Magnitude 6.8?? Press the off button, please!

A kinder, gentler, sparklier Exhibit Hall was the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall. The colors, size, sparkle, and crystal formations of these earthly jewels was simply staggering. missjunebug fantasized briefly about the beaucoup bling that could be made out of each these gems and minerals! She did get to open up a five- foot geode with a turn wheel that revealed more amethyst within than she’d ever seen in her little bug life. Purple, sparkly awesomeness! If you enjoy jewelry or shiny things, spend some time in the Gems and Minerals Hall.

missjunebug’s final faves were The Rose Hall of Birds and the T. Boone Pickens Life Then and Now Hall. You can’t go wrong with cool birds and some amazing fossils. missjunebug got to stretch her little bug wings and fly in the full-body fly-like-a-bird simulator. Life Then and Now is larger than life with dinosaur skeletons and replicas that rule!  Be sure to check out such fossil finds as the fierce predator Tyrannosaurus rex or the peaceful, plant-eating Alamosaurus. There’s even a mini-exhibit of the kind of colorful little plastic dinosaurs missjunebug used to play with when she was a baby bug!

Many more hands-on Exhibit Halls will captivate and educate. missjunebug recommends you see all the halls!!! Bring the grandkids and the kid in you! You’ll have a ball! Find the museum at 2201 N. Field Street Dallas, TX 75201-1704

For general information and questions email info@perotmuseum.org or call:214.428.5555

On your way out of the museum, don’t forget to stop by the super cool Museum Store. missjunebug found the best gift ever for TinyJB, but he will have to wait until Christmas to see it!

Radical Angles Enclose! Photo by mjb2013
Radical Angles Enclose! Photo by mjb2013

 

After perusing the Perot, play around with the green ones! Leap Frog has never been so literal! Photo by mjb2013
After perusing the Perot, play around with the green ones! Leap Frog has never been so literal! Photo by mjb2013

 

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Black-Eyed Peas = Good Eating and Good Luck!

 

Check out these Black-Eyed Peas in the Pod!!! Photo by mjb2013
Check out these Black-Eyed Peas in the Pod!!! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug had a fine time recently at Underwood Family Farm in Moorpark playing Farmer-for-the-Day! It’s black-eyed pea pickin’ season and the good people at Underwood have rows and rows of bushy black-eyed pea plants just waiting for pick-your-own peeps to drop by and fill up their bags with these beautiful peas famous in the South. They even have a restaurant named after them! Yes! The Black-Eyed Pea! A pretty decent place to eat all your southern faves when you’re in the South: cornbread, okra, collard greens, black-eyed peas (natch!), fried chicken, and, well you get the idea.

missjunebug donned her straw hat, hiking boots, old jeans, hiking shirt, and super bright orange garden gloves in preparation for taking on row after row of pea plants. She garnered four bags full o’ peas ripe for the shelling. Picking is really the easy part. Once she got home, she had to start the labor intensive task of shelling each individual black-eyed pea pod and popping out those beautiful peas. Fun times!

She’s still got a few (hundred!) to go, but she’s managed to Zip-loc lots of peas for the deep freeze. missjunebug will have plenty to eat on New Year’s Day 2014, making sure she covers her year with good luck by eating black-eyed peas that day, one for every day of good luck! Okay, not really. A bowlful will do.  She might explode if she actually ate 365 peas in one sitting.

Fresh, Young Black-Eyed Peas! Get busy shelling! Photo by mjb2013
Fresh, Young Black-Eyed Peas! Get busy shelling! Photo by mjb2013

Here’s a simple recipe from missjunebug’s Aunt Mary that pleases the pea palate!

Black-Eyed Peas that Please

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 cups of shelled fresh black-eyed peas

1/2 medium onion, chopped

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

2 slices uncooked bacon for flavor

1-3 shakes Tabasco

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Place peas in a saucepan. Cover with water. Add chopped onion, chopped tomatoes, sliced bacon, Tabasco, salt and pepper. Stir. Heat on medium heat. Bring to a boil, then lower heat for a continuous simmer for about 20 minutes or until peas are slightly firm, not mushy. Adjust seasonings. Enjoy.

Eat with cornbread, over rice, or just on their own with the delicious soupy juice they are cooked in! You might have to have some serious Southern roots to enjoy these beauties, but keep an open mind and give them a try. They are delicious, nutritious, and lucky!

mjbTip: It’s fun to be a Farmer-for-the Day!

Don't forget your Underwood Family Farms Frequent Farmer Card! Photo by mjb2013
Don’t forget your Underwood Family Farms Frequent Farmer Card! Photo by mjb2013

 

Helpful Info If You Want To Be a Farmer-for-the-Day! Photo by mjb2013
Helpful Info If You Want To Be a Farmer-for-the-Day! Photo by mjb2013
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Tomato Time = Salad Success!

 

Captivating Caprese! Ciao Bella! Photo by mjb2013
Captivating Caprese! Ciao Bella! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has recently discovered Salads for Breakfast! She’s not quite sure what got her started on this, but she’s pretty much left conventional breakfasts behind–except for her occasional bowl of homemade granola.

This is the perfect time to tomato up early in the day. Here are a couple of inspired salads to get you started thinking: Salad for Breakfast! Grab those homegrown or farmer’s market tomatoes and dig in!

Caprese Salad

Tomatoes of your choice–missjunebug likes Romas and on-the-vine organic finds

Fresh mozzarella cheese

Fresh basil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Balsamic vinegar

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper–lots of it!

Slice the tomatoes and cheese to the thickness you prefer. Arrange on a plate alternating tomato, cheese, and basil or create your own artistic arrangement as missjunebug has done with a big pile of basil surrounded by tomatoes and cheese. Be creative!

Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Finish with salt and pepper. Enjoy every fresh bite of this Italian salad delight!

The perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Photo by mjb2013
The perfect breakfast, lunch, or dinner! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug came across this next salad at Lake Powell Resort in Page, Arizona when she and trusty Mr.JB were doing some eclipse chasing. This is a blast to the past recipe reminiscent of the Iceberg Wedge with Bacon, Tomato, and Blue Cheese. Very old school but very delightful to the taste buds and appealing to the eye!

missjunebug’s Bacon, Tomato, and Blue Cheese Salad

3 slices of crispy bacon

1 large chopped tomato

1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Thinly sliced red onion

Big pile of shredded iceberg lettuce (or add romaine for more texture)

Wishbone Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

Kosher salt

Freshly cracked pepper

Arrange the lettuce on a plate. Scatter the tomatoes around the lettuce. Add crumbled bacon and blue cheese crumbles. Scatter red onions strategically around the plate! Top with chunky blue cheese dressing. Finish with salt and pepper! Done!

Best blend of tomatoes, bacon, blue cheese, and red onion. Yum! Photo by mjb2013

Of course, these salads are great anytime of the day, but try to break free of breakfast expectations by trying salad instead! missjunebug is sure you won’t regret it!

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Coca Cola Company Gets Creative

Ticket for free glass of Coca-Cola, believed t...
Ticket for free glass of Coca-Cola, believed to be the first coupon ever. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug has spent more than a few blog posts praising the wonderful taste of Coca Cola, her final remaining vice. But rest assured she only occasionally indulges her love of the burn-at-the-back-of-the-throat sensation! No really.

That said (read: confessed), today’s post is in praise of the global experimentation Coca Cola is up to in improving their products.

Coke is going green with Coca Cola Life, a product currently being marketed in Argentina. Love that Classic Cursive white on red or red on white script? Now think green! A stevia + sugar-sweetened drink with half the calories of Coca Cola Classic has been rolled out for lucky Argentinians to enjoy with a stevia-inspired green design. Will it go worldwide? Time will tell! But missjunebug likes the idea of using the plant-based sweetener plus a little sugar to keep the taste close to the Real Thing.

What’s next for the world according to Coke? How about a Coca Cola in an ice bottle with that familiar cursive etched into the bottle? You read that right! The bottle is made from 100% frozen water with just a slim rubber red band stamped with the Coke logo that provides a comfortable hold while you drink down the super cold pause that refreshes. After you have satisfied your thirst, the bottle goes the way of the typical ice cube and melts away!

Lucky Columbia is the only country currently selling the ice bottle, mostly at beaches (at the rate of  approximately 265 bottles per hour by beachside vendors!!), but if the early results are any indication, Coke might just roll out this environmentally friendly no-recycling-required icy container to the rest of the world. Brilliant! Green! Flavorful!

missjunebug salutes Coca Cola for its innovation, environmental awareness and design fun–that red bracelet is wearable and super cool!

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Thanks Thrice

This was long thought to be the only portrait ...
This was long thought to be the only portrait of William Shakespeare that had any claim to have been painted from life, until another possible life portrait, the Cobbe portrait, was revealed in 2009. The portrait is known as the ‘Chandos portrait’ after a previous owner, James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos. It was the first portrait to be acquired by the National Portrait Gallery in 1856. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I can no other answer make but thanks,
And thanks, and ever thanks.

William Shakespeare Twelfth Night

When missjunebug is at a loss for words, she has no qualms about borrowing some from her literary elders. Of course, Wills is ever her man for supplying    words sweet and sincere to convey deep gratitude for all the care and concern conveyed to her in myriad ways these last two weeks.

Phone messages, flowers, cards, emails, texts galore, and more. Facebook messages and phone calls too, offers to visit, have lunch out or bring food in! missjunebug is on overwhelm especially because she is well into Ovarian Cancer vs. missjunebug Round Three at this point! She knows you especially understood and respected her need to get through the rough and tumble post-surgery days without visitors. Her limits learned through previous hospital stays required summoning whatever energy she had for the early and hardest stages of healing (read: most painful). She’s learned her resources are finite and the conviviality of the most well-intended visitor can take as well as give. Ever thanks for letting her rest quietly and for keeping in touch with kind messages and lots of XOXOs.

missjunebug wants to award one “thanks” each from Shakespeare’s lines to trusty Mr.JB, ElderJB, and TinyJB who provide for missjunebug love unconditional and replete with happiness.

missjunebug’s plan now is to heal, to move forward, to live each day fully and mindfully, and to express sincerely her gratitude for friends and family she will ever hold in her heart.

Then she plans to treat herself to a new wig! No matter what is going on, missjunebug manages to get some shopping in!

 

 

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Welcoming Distractions

Various scalpels
Various scalpels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So as missjunebug’s doctor once said a few years ago after viewing a pathology report that didn’t bode too well, “You have a little more work to do.”

Indeed.

Turns out missjunebug had a lot more work to do over the next few years, and honestly, she’s just happy to still be here, but she’s not so happy to have to go back in the hospital, that most confounding of locations to try to rest, to heal, and to get well!

So many pokes, prods, sticks, interruptions in sleep and machinery beeps! Food? Forget it. Ice chips only on the menu. Sleep? Not a chance. Vitals are checked around the clock. Blood work clocks in nice and early, too! Too bad for you, missjunebug!

But missjunebug has a plan! Thanks to wise words of Dr.O’, she knows exactly what to do: Welcome Distractions!

missjunebug will forego all those challenging book club reads (Wolf Hall–no way Thomas x 3–so confusing! The sequel?? Bringing Up the Bodies ack! No more Mantel! , Anna Karenina–catch that train later!–so depressing) and stick to the escapist fiction she craves–Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple, here missjunebug comes!! Then she’ll segue straight to Netflix for a binge watch worthy of a week-long hospital sequester. Rom coms! Noir thrillers! Historical sagas! PBS Masterpiece Classics!

Eyes like buttons? Then how about a little Art Studio work on her iPad. The thrill of painting sans mess! Yeah, that’s the way to while away time transfixed. Then onto the pile of WSJ “Personal Journal” sections she’s been saving for weeks. So much fun to read to keep a finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist. Crosswords? Yes! Sudoku? Absolut! Facebook updates? What’s the latest? Stumble Upon? Certainly!

What do all these things have in common? They allow missjunebug to indulge in some pretty pointless distractions that keep her mind off the tubes (a pox upon the NG!), IVs, compression stockings, blood pressure cuffs, and thermometer readings temporarily imprisoning her like a bug in a bell jar. Oh, and the pain, too. They keep her mind off the pain. Of course, the meds help do that, too!

Indulgent distractions. No guilt.

missjunebug can be productive another time. With enough mindless distractions, she just might make it through ovarian cancer recurrence part deux.

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Four-Hour Body: Easiest Eating Plan Ever!

So it’s that time of year when missjunebug and her Trusty Mr.JB begin to think about improving their health, slimming down a bit, and getting fit! The January resolutions didn’t quite pan out and the pre-Easter makeover didn’t quite make it, so now summer looms in the June gloom and they are both ready to turn over a new (stevia-sweetened) leaf.

As mentioned in an earlier post, missjunebug and her fab fam have been reading the Tim Ferriss books all of which riff on the number four: Four-Hour Work Week, Four-Hour Body, Four-Hour Chef. They are fun x 4 to read and they guarantee full body, brain, and brawn overhaul with minimum expenditure of effort and maximum pay off. Tim even encourages his readers to learn a foreign language along the way to their “new you” status! missjunebug is pretty sure with Tim Ferriss as a guide, anything is possible!

Which brings missjunebug back to the Easiest Eating Plan Ever: Four-Hour Body. Five Simple Rules. These are reproduced straight from missjunebug’s copy of Tim’s awesome book Four-Hour Body. Some of these succinct rules will sound very, very familiar to you as they appear on most sensible eating plans these days. Others not so much.

English: A closeup look at Burke, the latest p...
English: A closeup look at Burke, the latest pinto bean from ARS and university plant scientists. It resists a host of harmful fungi and viruses that can otherwise cheat growers of a bountiful harvest. Photo by Scott Bauer.http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rule #1: Avoid “white” starchy carbohydrates (or those that can be white). This means all bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and grains.

Rule #2: Eat the same few meals over and over again, especially for breakfast and lunch. You already do this; you are just picking new default meals.

Rule #3 Don’t drink calories. Exception: 1-2 glasses of dry red wine per night are allowed.

Rule #4 Don’t eat fruit. Avocado and tomatoes are excepted.

Rule #5 Take one day off per week and go nuts. I choose and recommend Saturday.

What could be simpler? missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB have had no trouble staying on this plan because it is so super simple: protein, bean, green. That’s pretty much it!! Oh and did she mention how super boring it is! Life without carbohydrates is drab indeed, but when Sunday rolls around–their “go nuts” day, life is good indeed!

Today, for instance, missjunebug and Mr.JB had a marvy brekkie at Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura–(search for mjb’s review of this great eatery!) Waffles! Syrup! Milk! (and a strip of bacon or two and an egg or two for good protein measure.) Let the carbohydrates roll!! Of course, they can only roll until tomorrow when it’s back to six days of protein, bean, green! missjunebug suspects there is a modicum of discipline required in staying on this plan, but honestly she thinks it’s easy because you can never overeat protein, bean, green. It simply can’t be done!

So if you are feeling a little sluggish and in need of some slimming, say good-bye to sugar and take the Four-Hour Body Five-Rule Challenge! Summer looms just past the June gloom!

 

 


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Matthew McConaughey: Your Name is Mud

English: Lonely boat on the mud
English: Lonely boat on the mud (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB had some fun Memorial Day weekend checking out the film Mud at their local indie film house. It was a serendipitous find as they were on their way to dinner at their fave pizzeria D’Amore’s (Best slice NYC/NJ style crust in SoCali!) when they saw that the marquee showtime for Mud aligned perfectly for a postprandial visual treat!

And what a treat it was! Mud is a Southern-rooted coming-of-age adventure story, but missjunebug thinks it’s one of the best love stories she’s ever seen. Romantic love, unrequited love, the love of a father and a mother for a son, the love of a son for his sad and maritally troubled parents, the love of a sharp shooter surrogate parent for his wayward “son,” the love of a young man for a captivating fugitive, the love of that same young man for a fickle high school heartbreaker, this film has more forms of love than the island’s creeks have cottonmouths. And, yes, there are plenty of snakes in this story, and not just the river dwelling kind.

The cast is, well, perfectly cast! Matthew McConaughey lives up to his name Mud in the most obvious way: he’s sorely in need of a bath, but hiding out on an island in a boat up a tree will do that to you. As he says himself, looking at said boat: “It’s a helluva thing.” The tree-shelved boat proves invaluable to him in the course of the film as he makes a plan to reunite with the love of his life Juniper played spot on by Reese Witherspoon, the quintessential Southern Siren.

Ellis proves invaluable as well. In a plot worthy of Mark Twain, Ellis and his friend Neckbone (coolest handle of the film) make sure Mud has the food and supplies he needs during his forced island staycation. Mud has done a bad, bad thing and Triple 6 bounty hunters abound, but the boys remain undaunted. The fourteen-year old Ellis played without one false note by Tye Sheridan captivates from beginning to end. He is the heart and soul of the film and possesses a moral compass that puts the adults to shame. Heroics and heartbreak help define this bittersweet tale, but it never lapses into sentimentality. Ellis definitely comes of age, but he also recognizes the power of love in all its forms.

mjbTip: See this film a.s.a.p.!

 

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Pacific Crepes: A Little Bit of France in Santa Barbara

Crepes
Crepes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug and her trusty Mr.JB enjoyed a field trip recently to Santa Barbara in search of a taste of France. missjunebug thought it would be the perfect Mother’s Day treat for her, and Mr.JB really had no choice since it was Mother’s Day after all! They recently returned from a fab trip to Paris, and they were beginning to miss the fine French cuisine, especially savory crêpes!

missjunebug just googled Ventura County + crêpes and Pacific Crêpes rose to the top of the Google search. The P.C. website is very helpful: menus, location, hours, even a cool story in the news about the history of the restaurant and a little bit about the French family who brought Pacific Crêpes into being!

If you find yourself in need of a change of food pace from the usual breakfast, lunch, or dinner, check out Pacific Crêpes. missjunebug highly recommends the delicious La Francaise with two over easy eggs, Swiss cheese, and ham, folded up along the edges to perfectly contain all that savory goodness. They brew up an awesome cappuccino, too! The ambience is French bistro-ish and even has a couple of tables for al fresco dining. What a fun food find! What a great place to enjoy it!

Pacific Crêpes is located at 705 Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara. Call 805-882-1123 for ressies and show up from 9-9 Saturday, 9-3 Sunday, or Monday-Friday 10-3 and 5:30 to 9. Like all true French, the staff takes a break and has a life!

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Mother’s Day missjunebug Style

English: jkklglh
English: jkklglh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug re-read her previous Mother’s Day posts and came away thinking she’d covered her feelings about this holiday pretty well. The take-away?

She loves being a mom! It’s that simple! She loves her two rad kids ElderJB and TinyJB! It has been an honor and a privilege to help raise these boys along with Mr.JB’s invaluable love and guidance.

The only thing she regrets is that just when they become their most interesting (and entertaining) as young adults, ElderJB and TinyJB fly the proverbial coop and nest elsewhere! But then that is the beauty part of the plan as her dear, departed JBDad would say. The JBParentals have done their job and the said kids answer to themselves, making their way in the wider world pretty much on their own.

missjunebug is thankful for a connected world of emails, texts, e-cards, phone calls (by land, by cell, by FaceTime, by Skype) that are available for moms to communicate with their hatchlings on a regular basis!  And for those of you who live close to your children (luck by design!) good on you; missjunebug is a little jealous, but she knows that is not in the cards for her at least right now. Who knows what the future holds?

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you devoted moms! Stay connected, but maybe stay out of the way, too! Birds gotta fly! Children gotta grow and go!

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missjunebug Recommends…

Bread perfected: The croissant! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug has been busy lately traveling, returning home, regrouping, doing laundry, catching up with bill paying, etc., etc., the usual maintenance post travel, but she’s also been thinking about some recommendations she’d like to share with you.

So here goes:

Download (and pay for!) Justin Timberlake‘s new album 20/20. It is the best music to walk to missjunebug has come across in a long time (and dance to, too!). The songs are stellar and many great ones await you beyond “Suit and Tie.” which you’ve probably already heard about 100 times by now. (missjunebug still loves “S&T” no matter how many times she’s heard it.) And truth be told she has a big crush on J.T. She hearts him BIGTIME. Lucky Jessica Biel. Seriously.

Check out anything written by Tim Ferriss. This guy has got it going on with his Four Hour protocols. Currently missjunebug and members of her dear fam are reading The Four-Hour Chef, The Four-Hour Body, and plan to read The Four-Hour Work Week. missjunebug really doesn’t need The Four-Hour Work Week, since her work week is even less than that! Ha! Seriously, these books are so smart, so entertaining, and so helpful you will not be disappointed!. T.F. is a phenom.

Read anything written by Julian Barnes. Right now. Really. Go get one of his books. He is one smart Brit. missjunebug recommends The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life. Okay, missjunebug has actually only read The Sense of an Ending and Levels of Life, but she plans to read all of his books a.s.a.p. because she’s sure the others are equally great!

Eat some croissants. They are so yummy: crunchy, buttery, layers of delicious bready air! How did the French ever come up with these? Beyond brilliant. missjunebug recommends that you eat these in Paris for the best croissant experience ever! And after you eat some croissants, make yourself some crepes. They are super easy to make using Krusteaz pancake mix and a great crepe pan. missjunebug recommends a made-in-France de Buyer which makes crepe making super fun. Of course, you can make crepe batter from scratch, but the Krusteaz is easy peasy and delicious. Just make sure if you are following the The Four-Hour Body  eating plan (which you will be after reading Tim Ferriss’s book) that you save these for your 7th day where you can eat whatever you want! Vive la France and vive Tim Ferriss!

Speaking of Paris, missjunebug recommends checking out travelingprofessor.com for excellent travel trips and guided tours in France, Italy, and South America. They are reasonably priced, informative, not too touristy, and fun, fun, fun. missjunebug and her Mr.JB just returned from a week in Paris and a few days in Normandy. It really pays to get to know a city by spending time in it as opposed to a quick cruise-port-of-call fly by in a tourist bus. missjunebug has done both and she’s likes the get-to-know-where-you-are-for-awhile walkabout much better!

Whew! That’s about it for recs for now!

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Creating Creativity

Creativity is Not Device Dependent
Creativity is Not Device Dependent (Photo credit: eliztesch)

missjunebug has been thinking about creativity lately thanks to a Wall Street Journal article she read recently. She learned a few things and she had a few of her own ideas about creativity confirmed. The insight that missjunebug applauded is also the one she finds most personally relatable: creativity thrives in transitional times.

What are some of those transitional times?

Walks from here to there

Showers to prepare you for the rest of your day

Relaxing baths

A quick run or a leisurely jog

Waking

Falling asleep

missjunebug has a vivid memory from high school where she spent the evening grinding out trigonometry problems. She got stuck on one, gave up, went to sleep, and the next morning Voilà! She had the answer! This was close to missjunebug’s last taste of success in math altogether, but that was one heady moment for her! (She still thanks Mr. Clay for his infinite patience!). More recently, in fact a day or two ago, while she was finishing up a shower, she got the first six lines of her “In Not Of” poem that she grew into a finished piece in no time! Creativity can be elusive, but if you take the time to tap into these transitional times, missjunebug guarantees you some very creative flow!

Other creativity creators?

Try walking away from the problem to arrive at a quick solution: too much focused concentration can block creativity.

Have a relaxing glass of wine or two. Down a cold Stella and let the creative times roll!

Let your mind wander where it wants. It will often arrive at a much more creative place where you will find new inspiration for your project or problem.

Finally, in coincidental keeping with the Pantone Color of the Year 2013: Emerald, gaze at some green, that promising color of renewal and growth, to get your creative juices flowing! According the WSJ “Students with green test-cover pages gave more creative answers than those whose pages were white, blue, red, or gray.” Maybe colleges need to ditch the Blue Books for green ones!

mjbTip: Relax into your creativity!

 

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missjunebug is Thankful for “Thankfuls”

"Touchdown Jesus" at the University ...
"Touchdown Jesus" at the University of Notre Dame. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug doesn’t often quote from other blog postings but in keeping with her spiritually themed entries during Easter week (three in a series, this being the final final), she has found a reflection on the University of Notre Dame’s FaithND website that bears repeating. Out of the mouths of babes they say comes wisdom and Ms. Veselik (’14) proves the proverb with this inspiring insight:

In this blur, I often lose sight of Jesus walking beside me, just as the men on the road to Emmaus did. In the middle of the pile of papers, emails, and deadlines, I often forget to look for the ways God might be walking right beside me. In the midst of all of the chaos, my roommates and I have established a nighttime tradition, a way for each of us to reflect back and recognize where Jesus has been walking with us that day. Every night before bed, Molly, Allie, Maddie, and I each list three things that we are thankful for that day. Some days the lists go on and on, other days we have to search deeper. Over time, I have realized that during my day, things happen that make me think, “Oh, I will have to include this in ‘thankfuls’ tonight.” I have begun to be more attentive to the ways—big and small—that God is present in my life every day.

A lot of the time I am like the men on the road to Emmaus, completely oblivious to the fact that Jesus is walking right next to me, failing to see the good in the everyday. Yet, in those few minutes of reflection every day, I have become more attentive to Jesus walking alongside me and more thankful for the ways that God presents himself to me on a daily basis.

Mary Kate Veselik ‘14

Now whether or not Jesus is your Homeboy, missjunebug is sure you can appreciate the value of Mary Kate’s roommate ritual of “Thankfuls.” No better way to end the day. No clearer path to appreciating the blessings of this day and every day. missjunebug plans to try out her own “Thankfuls” and is pretty sure she can come up with three a day.

Why not join her? She’d be thankful for the company!

 

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