Tag Archives: Celebrate! Celebrate!

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!

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

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! 

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

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!

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 !

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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In Not Of

Food Hall Plaza Hotel NYC Easter Bunny, Hunny! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug wishes you a Happy Easter! Happy Spring! Happy Life!

May the E.B. be good to you and bring you lots of velvety chocolate rabbits (eat the ears first) and daffodil-yellow peeps (these keep forever!) in your Easter basket. Dye eggs! Hide eggs! Find eggs! Make deviled eggs! (Check out missjunebug’s fab recipe on this very website!)

Eat brunch! Drink champagne! Feast on glazed ham and roasted asparagus! Embrace family and friends and pets! Enjoy the delights of this earthly life!

The beauty of the season and her tiny place on the planet inspired missjunebug to wax poetic and spiritual, a little rhyme-y, but a little serious, too!

For your consideration:

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.

 

 

 

 

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Aroma Coffee and Tea Company! Good for mjb!

Al Fresco Dessert! Perfect! Photo by mjb2013

missjunebug and a dear friend made their way from SoCali suburbia to a hipper, cooler, vibe-ier locali: Aroma Coffee and Tea Company. What fun! And what fine food.

missjunebug is on a mission to try every tuna melt she meets up with on the menus of her restaurants of choice. Aroma’s Tuna Melt with swirly black and white rye bread, yummy tomatoes, and delicious tuna fishes did not disappoint. missjunebug’s friend had an Asian noodle-y salad that looked exotic and colorful.

The Aroma menu is complex, interesting, and it offers breakfast fare and a fair amount of lunch and dinner items that you just can’t go wrong in choosing. missjunebug found the Buenos Dias, Los Angeles! section particularly intriguing but she passed on the enticing South of the Border flavor in her on-going pursuit of the Perfect Tuna Melt!

After the meal, missjunebug and her dear friend made their way back to the pastry case that graces the entrance to the charming restaurant, an erstwhile home with vintage touches and many tucked away, comfy tables in which to enjoy a fresh repast. Her friend ordered the Princess cake, a many-layered, custardy delight; missjunebug made a beeline to the Bee Cake. Believe missjunebug when she says It be good!

The next time you want to escape the fast food joints, the burger stops, and the other links in the restaurant chain, hop in your car and head down to Aroma Coffee and Tea Company for delicious food and fun. You’ll find them at 4360 Tujunga Ave. Studio City, California 91604 • Ph: 818.508.0677. Hours: Mon – Sat 6am to 11pm / Sun 7am to 11pm.

When you’ve eaten your fill of fab food, take a stroll down Tujunga and pop into the local boutiques for a little shopping, window or otherwise. missjunebug found a nice pair of earrings for a nice price while her friend found a lovely handcrafted skirt.

The perfect end to a perfect day.

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Mini Cheery Cherry Pies

Miniature Pie, Maximum Flavor! Photo by missjunebug 2013

missjunebug woke up this morning and got a cheery, cherry idea. She had one, lone roll-up Pillsbury pie crust in her frig, and thought she better use it or lose it to the rapidly approaching expiry date. After a quick pantry forage, she found a can of that blissfully sweet Cherry Pie Filling to help her seal the deal on this Semi Delicious, Mega-Not Healthy breakfast idea.

She grabbed a pint glass–perfect round mini pie crust cutter–and managed to form eight tiny crusts, the perfect size for muffin tins. She carefully placed them in the tins and spooned in a generous dollop of cherry filling into each Mini Cheery Cherry pie-to-be. With the leftovers she cut a few lattice top strips (as easy as pie to do!) and placed them over the cherry filling in a not quite perfect woven top crust. missjunebug might even call the top crust “rustic”–that word covers over many imperfections without losing any flavor!

missjunebug popped those precious mini pies in a hot 425° oven and baked them until they were golden brown and bubbly, about 2o or so minutes. After a quick sprinkle of granulated sugar over the top–(also helpful in covering over any rustic crust imperfections!), she popped them out of muffin tins and placed them on plates for breakfast for her and her dear MrJB who was happy to help taste test her Mini Cheery Cherry Pie experiment.

What a fun way to start the day: A cold glass of 1% milk (missjunebug is, of course, always watching her calories!) and a Mini Cheery Cherry Pie…or two. Double delicious! The next time you find yourself with a lone roll-out pie crust, turn it into the mini pies of your choice! Super easy to make. Super delicious to eat.

missjunebug will think about eating Mega-Healthy tomorrow.

MiniPie in a Muffin Tin: Oh. Pie. Yes. Photo by mjb2013
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Speculoos is Spectacular!

Cookie Magic! Photo by mjb2013

Every once in a while missjunebug comes across a product that is absolut! blog worthy. Like Consumer Reports, she receives no special consideration or payment for her endorsement. missjunebug is an ad-free zone! She shares this information for the sheer joy of hoping others will enjoy the product as joyfully as she has enjoyed it! Too many joys?? Not in this case! Speculoos is a taste bud-altering experience, unlike any missjunebug has ever had. Imagine delicious cookies, mildly spicey shortbread cookies. Imagine those cookies smashed to bits. Imagine those smashed bits being spun into a creamy, silky, buttery, sweet, caramel-ly spread. Imagine dipping a spoon into said spread and slathering it on, what else? another cookie! Ahhhh. Spectacular Speculoos! If no other cookies are available just enjoy straight off the spoon.

Your taste buds will be forever grateful as missjunebug is to ElderJB for introducing the junebug family to Speculoos during the Christmas holidays. He wends his way through Brussels, Belgium on his trip from Rwanda to the Hacienda in SoCali and always does a little airport shopping. While missjunebug appreciates the awesome Belgium chocolates ElderJB lavishes upon the junebug fam, she’s just wild about the new find: Speculoos! Thanks, ElderJB for this smashed-up cookie spread madness!

If you are not traveling to Brussels in the near future you can track down Trader Joe’s version of Speculoos descriptively named Speculoos Cookie Butter. missjunebug doubts it is as good as Lotus Original Speculoos but it might run a close second, and it is available a lot closer to home! Sadly, missjunebug will probably have to settle for TJ’s version because her jar of LOS is profoundly empty.

Alas...the jar is empty! Photo by mjb2013
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Goodbye Tangerine Tango! Hello Emerald!

Emerald showing its hexagonal structure
Emerald showing its hexagonal structure (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug having learned her lessons from The Devil Wears Prada, Project Runway, and Project Runway All Stars (and the soon-to-be Project Runway Teams!!!) that fashion matters, wants to keep you in the looking-your-best loop! To that very important end, she salutes this year’s unabashed Pantone Color of the Year 2013: EMERALD!!

This vibrant/retro/vivid/lush/verdant selection is unsubtle to say the least! But, hey, if Angelina Jolie can rock it radiantly at the 2011 Golden Globes in her full-length flowey emerald gown and before that at the Oscars with those dazzlingly gigantic emerald earrings, so can you and missjunebug. Or maybe mjb will just update her wardrobe with a nice green scarf.

missjunebug hopes this is a color-of-money sign that the Great Recession is truly over and things will begin to look up for country economically. She’s certain anything is possible now that Jerry Brown has declared the state of California debt free and proud to be! What did missjunebug hear you say? A “Yeah, right” of skepticism?? Okay, missjunebug is a little skeptical, too, that despite the rise in taxes, the Golden State will be able to live within its green means. But if the pols do manage to pull this off, missjunebug bets the other states will be California dreamin’ and emerald with envy!

Now go get vibrant! radiant! and chic! with an Emerald infusion to your wardrobe! If that doesn’t work out for you, do what Mr.JB does and drink some Absinthe! The (Emerald) Green Fairy won’t be far behind!

Cheers to the New Year and the Color of the Year: Emerald!

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Mission Makeover 2013

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard
English: New Year's Resolutions postcard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug is beginning to recover from her Christmacoma. She’s eaten her way through the Christmas ham, the New Year’s flank steak, the sweets and treats downed by the occasional Old Fashioned (Let’s here it for Maker’s Mark Bourbon! Cheers!) Mr.JB is back at work (reluctantly), ElderJB is back in Rwanda (happily) with his latest transfer of as many American products as he can fit into multiple (read 6) oversized duffle bags, TinyJB is recovering (slowly) in Miami from the devastating loss of the Irish to the Crimson Tide and may be recovering from other things as well, like too much food and drink in their awesome Club level seats at the Discovery Stadium he and his girl enjoyed until the Tide rolled. Touchdown Jesus clearly had better things to do last night than ensure an Irish win. To loosely quote the Scot:  The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men and football teams gang aft a-gley.” 

Well today missjunebug has better things to do than cry over what might have been. She’s ready for a makeover! She’s re-established contact with her gym and had the head trainer take her through the machines one by one that might help her salvage her muscle mass most of which withered away in her way-too-long stay in the hospital last year. She’s also enlisted the help of a walking buddy: Spoonbug, her dear Labradoodle who loves to walk when given the opportunity! To keep her on track her dear neighbor and friend Maria waits for missjunebug and Spoonbug at the top of a tough hill for a Monday through Friday uphill walking workout! Whew! It’s tough but good and the best part is the talking therapy that goes on where Maria and missjunebug solve all the problems of the world, including a few of their own.

The best thing about exercising a little more is that missjunebug finds she wants to make better food choices, too. What a concept! With a little help from Weight Watchers online, missjunebug can track her intake and help herself to a stronger, better, healthier her!  The fact that missjunebug already ate every speck of the Christmas cookies, New Year’s cake, and gifts of candy she received helps keep her on track!

Seriously, missjunebug is planning her makeover one step at a time and hoping to be her best new self by mid April when she and Mr.JB head to Paris! They are hoping the TravelingProfessor.com website will attract a few more Francophiles for the spring trip the Professor has planned! The Prof needs 8 to make the trip a go! Check out his fab site and consider coming along (that means you, JBBro and JBSis-in-Law!!!) Of course, ElderJB and TinyJB are always welcome but missjunebug hears they have other plans!

missjunebug wishes you a Happy New Year and a New New You if you need one!

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missjunebug’s Holiday Bars

Holiday Still Life! Photo by mjb2012

No, this is not a post about the best place to imbibe alcohol during the holidays! missjunebug wants to share with you her recipe for fruity and nutty Holiday Bars. If you never got into fruitcake but enjoy dates, raisins, and walnuts, this holiday cookie is for you. Mega Delicious and Semi Healthy describes this bar perfectly. Easy to make, easy to freeze, easy to take to any party or cookie exchange, and very, very easy to eat!

missjunebug’s Holiday Bars

(adapted from an ancient but beloved cookbook entitled Cookery for Entertaining)

Ingredients

1 (8-oz.) package Sun Date California Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

1 cup raisins, Trader Joe’s golden or SunMaid regular or a mix of both kinds

1 cup walnuts, chopped

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup sugar, divided

1 stick butter (1/4 lb.), room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs, organic

2 cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 tablespoons orange juice

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease 2 baking sheets (or use Silpat liners or parchment paper); set aside. Stir together in a large bowl dates, raisins, walnuts, orange peel, cinnamon, and 1/2 cup sugar until the fruit is well coated; set aside. In a separate bowl or Kitchen Aid mixer (best choice!) cream butter and the remaining sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.

Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Whisk together in a small separate bowl the flour, baking powder, salt, and orange juice. Then add this flour mixture to the sugar and egg mixture. Add the dates, raisins, and walnuts mixture and stir until blended. The dough will be stiff.

Divide dough into four equal portions and shape two logs (12″ x 2″ x 1/2″) on each prepared baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes until slightly brown. The logs will feel soft but they will firm as they cool. Cool for 15 minutes. Cut diagonally into 3/4″ bars. Dust with powdered sugar. These freeze well in Zip-loc freezer bags or cookie tins. Makes approximately 64 delicious bars!

After you make these, you can head to your fav holiday bar and celebrate! Cheers!

Don't these look yum x tum! Photo by mjb2012
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Tiny Things: Fall Collection

missjunebug was walking her Spoonbug the other day and found these two cool tiny things: Tiny Piney Cones (science-y name) and Nature’s Own Tic-Tacs (very science-y name). Check them out! She threw the leaves in for some local autumn color. And, yes, missjunebug wants to emphatically assure you SoCali has all the fall colors, just in tiny amounts! Enjoy these final days of fall before Winter Solstice (or the end of the world) arrives!

All for fall still life! Photo by mjb2012

 

missjunebug asks: "Now don't those look like Tic Tacs??" Photo by mjb2012
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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like You Know What!

Pile of gorgeous gifts
Pile of gorgeous gifts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug has seen and heard the signs of the season and they are plentiful: First candle of advent lit in her church’s advent wreath–good job acolytes!–, twinkly lights up and glowing around her neighborhood (mjb is not too crazy about the cool-light LEDs, a little too Disneylandesque for her; she prefers the warmth of incandescent, but oh well, they are still festive in a Neon sort of way,  Christmas music playing on 94.7 the Wave way, way before Thanksgiving–they really get into the spirit early, and that same music playing in every store she frequents leading mjb to feel a little sorry for those people who find the music crazy-making. mjb’s advice: embrace it, people! Music increases endorphins and by way of that, happiness! Remember, the season flees as quickly as it approaches, kind of like those parking places at the mall disappearing as soon as you head down that aisle! Which brings missjunebug to the trickiest part of the season: gift buying!

missjunebug has a love hate relationship with gifting. She loves to get gifts, hates to give them. Just kidding! What she really loves is finding the right gift for the right person. No small feat for sure, but usually worth the effort. With the help of amazon.com and all the .com stores she loves as well as helpful reviews, missjunebug can come up with some pretty dece choices. When in doubt she buys something at the mall she likes and hopes that it gets re-gifted to her someday! JK again! When in doubt (for real!), she cops to the gift card and that keeps everybody happy. There’s also nothing quite like cold, hard cash to warm the heart.

Onto the fun part: gift wrapping! missjunebug loves this part BIG time! She just bought her heavyweight Hallmark paper today, buy one roll, get the second one for a dollar! Deal! She chose the Santa paper, the poinsettias and the Merry! Merry! graphics. She’s lined up her massive package of Costco tissue and wire-edged sparkly ribbons for sweet bows. What’s missing? The boxes! missjunebug bought all her stuff online and it comes sans box! Big bummer. She’ll just have to improvise! Or do some mall shopping for herself and get a box for every single thing she buys for herself and just can’t live without this time of year. Yeah, that’s sounds good! Merry! Merry!

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My oh my missjunebug LOVES pie!

Pumpkin pie, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...
Pumpkin pie, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pumpkin_Pie.jpg Scrumptious and good for you! Pumpkin pie is loaded with a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug got back into the country from the Land Down Under just in time to start baking pies for Thanksgiving! She’s sticking with the traditional tried and true Libby’s Pumpkin Pie and Karo Syrup Pecan Pie. You can’t go wrong with the classics! She throws in a Harvest Pie for good measure that provides a mouthwatering mouthful of Granny Smith apples and Ocean Spray cranberries. She’ll share that recipe as soon as she makes her trip to the market to gather the necessary ingredients…absolutely the hardest part of the whole process!

Speaking of desserts, please God don’t let Hostess go out of business! That’s just wrong! Life without the occasional Twinkie or handful of Donettes–powdered sugared or chocolate iced–is not worth living!

English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake w...
English: Hostess Twinkies. Yellow snack cake with cream filling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

missjunebug wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! It is far and away the best holiday of the year. The focus of Thanksgiving remains where it should: on friends, family, feasting, and fun. What more could a holiday merrymaker ask for except maybe another slice of pie, please! My oh my missjunebug loves pie!

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Memo to Self: VOTE!

Breakdown of political party representation in...
Breakdown of political party representation in the United States Senate during the 112th Congress. Blue: Democrat Red: Republican Light Blue: Independent (caucused with Democrats) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

missjunebug avoids discussing the truly controversial: religion, politics, and sex.

That said, she is happy to encourage all her readers and anyone else who accidentally stumbles upon her website to vote tomorrow. She has no doubt that legions of people will breathe the well-deserved sigh of relief that the election season is over, but it is not complete until you cast your ballot. No one else but you. No where else but in your polling place.  Unless of course, you voted by absentee or mail in ballot!  Whether you lean red, blue or somewhere in between, cast your ballot thoughtfully for the candidates of your choice.

missjunebug knows democracy is about as messy as a popsicle on a hot day, but remember it ensures the sweetness of our freedom!

So get out there and VOTE!

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Let’s Get Spooky! Happy Halloween 2012

Halloweenie Pumpkin Man says "Happy Halloween!" Photo by mjb2012

missjunebug loves this time of year except for the ridiculously summery temps and the fire-promoting Santa Ana winds. Where’s the sweater weather?? Coming soon according to the weather gurus.

Speaking of weather, she’s happy to see the Eastern Seaboard digging out from under Sandy Frankenstorm. Now that’s really scary. missjunebug will take a 40-second earthquake over a 3-day, 750-mile wide, 10-state collateral damage hurricane any day! Side benefit of Sandy F: an electioneering hiatus. She looks forward to November 3rd and the cessation of hyperbole, litote, polls, fearsome ads, rants, debates, and nonsensical posturing and parsing of all things political.

missjunebug’s heart goes out to all those travelers who are suffering the Nightmare Before Halloween: Flight Cancellations x thousands.  Shape-shifting United is stepping up with easy flight changes and no charges. That Continental merger is having some sweet side effects for beleaguered travelers! missjunebug hopes all those stranded trick or treaters make it home in time to score some candy corn!

Here’s missjunebug’s Halloween Haiku, a tribute to the season in 5-7-5 syllables:

Haunting

by missjunebug

 

Dark night chills the spine

Ghostly shadows swirl within

Tingling trick or treat!

 

Happy Halloween, all you ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night!

 

 

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missjunebug’s Tiny Things Collection Grows!

Updated and Fab Tiny Things Collection! Photo by mjb2012

missjunebug is super busy this week so she’s just taking care of super essential business: updating her Tiny Things Collection! What could be more important??

Your mission should you chose to accept it is to figure out which of the tiny things pictured are NEW to missjunebug’s collection! The winners get bragging rights! How fun is that?

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Ode to Candy Corn

English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's cand...
English: Candy corn, specifically Brach's candy corn. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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!

missjunebug wants to assure you that her love of Brach’s Candy Corn–yes it has to be Brach’s–is unleashed only once a year on the First Day of Fall, give or take a day or two for just a few weeks. This seasonal favorite recalls all the best of autumn days giving way to the spooky nights of October and culminating in carved pumpkins and costumed revelry.  missjunebug encourages you to think about your seasonal favs and to join her in her seasonal cheer: “All for Fall!”

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Home is Where the Comfort Is

One of missjunebug’s favorite words has always been comfort. It has a pillowy sound that is as soothing as its meaning. It also has some interesting  connections in our language that resonant with many of us: to give comfort, to receive comfort, to enjoy comfort food, to relax and be comfortable, especially in our surroundings and clothing, to feel comfortable with someone you’ve just met or seen again after a long time, and to work well because you are in your comfort zone. She even likes the antithetical use of it: to give cold comfort to someone, meaning of course, no comfort at all.

There are a few brand applications of comfort that no doubt have parlayed their success at least partially from the word comfort figuring prominently in their products. Who wouldn’t want to stay at The Comfort Inn? Who would refuse a cocktail made with, yes, you guessed it, Southern Comfort? Better yet imagine having that drink, “a unique blend of natural fruit, spice and whiskey flavors that together create a distinct taste” while you are relaxing in your comfy room at the Comfort Inn? Sounds pretty comfortable to missjunebug.

But perhaps the most likely location to find comfort is home. Home sweet, comfortable home. missjunebug has experienced an epiphany of profound proportions recently, having been absented from her home for (count ’em) 18 days. And not on vacay either. That kind of absence is pretty easy to handle even if you get a little homesick. But missjunebug was confined to a hospital bed enduring one of the most uncomfortable experiences of her life.

Now believe missjunebug when she says she is super thankful for all the great care she received from doctors and nurses on her “team” as if she is in some kind of endurance sport, which now that she thinks of it, maybe she is. But you must know there was nothing comfortable about it. She’s pretty sure that if there are any Al Qaeda guys out there we need to subject to some attitude adjustment, all we have to do is arrange for NG (nasal gastric) tubes to be inserted down their throats and they’d come around to seeing things our way pretty damn quick.

So you’ve probably figured out her epiphany by now, as banal and cliché as it may be: There is no place like home. No place more comfortable, cheery, freeing, fresh, happy, and shiny. She is so thankful to be home with her steadfast Mr.JB, her super doodle Spoon, and her precious Lefty kitty. She plans to keep tapping her heels together from time to time to make sure she stays there.

 

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missjunebug’s Find of the Week: Carrara Pastries in Moorpark, CA

A Carrara Pastries Croissant with an Italian Twist! Photo by mjb2012

 

missjunebug had some not so fun medical procedures this week that compromised her diet considerably. The first one (a PET/CT scan) cancelled all carbs and caffeine from her diet for more than a day. Arg. She quickly entered the sad realm of Headache City and no amount of protein or vegetable matter could make up for that profound lack of sweetness and starch and caffeination. missjunebug needs her caffeine and carbs!!!!

The next day she was back to a normal diet for 24 hours, then she had to go all clear liquids for 24 more hours to prepare for a lower GI series performed by a hospital radiologist that assured her the procedure would go by quickly.  This, of course, is a matter of perspective. missjunebug’s perspective was no quite so sanguine.

Ever had a baby? Now imagine that baby is traveling down that other canal. Arg x 10. TMI no doubt but to get back to the restricted diet, the interesting thing she realized was that it was tons easier to go all liquids because the beverages she drank had…wait for it…wait for it…caffeine and carbs! She rounded out her intake with some beef broth and chicken broth and those 24 hours just flew by. Clearly (pun intended!!!) missjunebug could never be a big fan of Atkins. But this is all prologue.

What missjunebug really wants to talk about is what she did to catch up on her carbs once the medical procedures were in her rear view (pun intended!!!). She headed over to that lovely, sleepy bedroom community of Moorpark, CA to scoop up some of the best Italian croissants on the planet at the recently opened Carrara Pastries.

This beauty of a bakery is full of delightful Italian pastries, cookies, and cakes, but missjunebug’s two favs are their light-as-air croissant, lightly glazed and their lightly powdered sugar croissant plumped up with the most luxurious and luscious Chantilly cream you have ever tasted. You can see the croissant in the photo above practically floating above missjunebug’s plate! That’s thanks to the meticulous execution of authentic Italian recipes by pastry chef Massimiliano Carrara, a native from the city of Lucca (Tuscany). To borrow a Brit word, he’s brilliant!

This pasticceria featuring homemade Italian desserts will not disappoint. You can find it right across the street from another Italian fav of missjunebug’s, Cafe Firenze. The next time you get a carb craving, check out Carrara Pastries at 476 West Los Angeles Ave, Unit A-13 in Moorpark or their delicious website at www.carrarapastries.com.

If you want more that one or two croissants be sure to get there early, around 9 or so, because these pastry perfections go fast! Or call 805-552-4250 the day before and let the pastry chefs know how many you’d like. Sadly, missjunebug had to learn this the hard way arriving one morning at 11 am, about two hours too late to enjoy authentic Italian croissants! Is there anything sadder than an empty display case where fresh croissants should be, but aren’t? missjunebug doesn’t think so!

Even their packaging is golden perfection. Just take a look!

Pretty Packaging Pleases missjunebug! Photo by mjb2012

Buon Appetito!!!

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missjunebug Wonders: Why Are Weddings So Wonderful?

Trouwringen tweekleur

Lately missjunebug has been thinking about the wonder of weddings. And she’s come up with some ideas about why they’re so wonderful (Debbie Downer Alert!) despite the fact that many marriages fail and the longer the marriage the rougher the going).

Weddings are hopeful! They affirm the couple’s love and share the hope that this is the real thing! This one will last and flourish and defy the odds! Despite all the carnage and collateral damage of divorce evident everywhere in the culture, this couple this time will make it! And the guests believe in the shiny hope for the future the lovely bride and handsome groom represent! And missjunebug believes, too! Believe her when she says she believes!

Good weddings have toasts with champagne.

Better weddings have open bars.

The best weddings have both!

If the guests aren’t fully on board with the hope thing, they can toast away any slight misgivings and really enjoy themselves! This also makes getting out on the dance floor much, much easier which brings missjunebug to her next point.

Weddings are wonderful venues for dance floor shenanigans. missjunebug believes in the power of the cool dance move. The wedding guest just needs one good one which he or she executes over and over as the music plays. missjunebug recommends Running Man. It’s fun and zippy and a really good workout! Especially in heels!

Weddings are wonderful opportunities to reconnect with friends and relatives you haven’t seen in years and haven’t managed to keep in touch with except for the occasional Facebook poke (ack! Zuck! What were you thinking!?), giving you a chance to hone your small talk skills. missjunebug can never get enough small talk and she’s sure you feel the same, too.

Weddings (like plane crashes) come in threes. If you’ve received one wedding invitation, expect two more before the year is out. WonderFUN x 3! Then expect to spend your time trolling registries to get just the right present that hasn’t already been purchased, leaving you with items under 10 dollars or over 200 dollars. Or you can be a rebel and buy a non-registry item! Risky, but commendable.

Okay, missjunebug has had her fun poking fun at weddings! She’s actually in love with the wonder of weddings and wonders daily when ElderJB and TinyJB will have a wonderful one of their own. Cue: Deep Sigh.

 

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Paging Arizona! missjunebug’s Annular Eclipse Adventure in Page, AZ

mjb's fave pic taken at Meteor Crater! Photo by mjb2012

So missjunebug’s Mr.JB has been busy planning more eclipse adventures! This time he traced the route from LAX through Phoenix by way of Flagstaff, then onto Page, Arizona and the Lake Powell Resort in a four-wheel drive Jeep! The four-wheel drive came in really handy when Mr.JB staked out centerline viewing real estate atop a semi-remote bluff! By the time the eclipse rolled around, lots of eclipse chasers had joined the junebugs at their prime viewing location. The conditions could not have been better! And the Ring of Fire eclipse was deLIGHTful!!!

missjunebug won’t go into details about getting off that semi-remote bluff. Suffice it to say there were many unmarked paths and the junebugs did their share of choosing the wrong ones to get the heck out of there before darkness descended! Whew! Believe missjunebug when she says she felt some serious relief when they finally found the main road!!

missjunebug also won’t go into the accommodations at the Lake Powell Resort where she requested and paid for in advance a Room with a (Lake)View. Suffice it to say what the junebugs got was a gorgeous asphalt-filled parking lot view! Lucky them! When Mr.JB went back to the front desk to show the receptionist their ressie, he was assured the entire resort was booked with a capital B and they were S.O.L. To their credit the management of the L.P.R. provided vouchers for two dinners and two breakfast buffets which did a lot to assuage a painful situation. And guess what? The food was great!!! And it went a long way toward make that parking lot view look a whole lot better!!

Here are some pics that tell the tale of missjunebug’s Paging Arizona Adventure:

First Stop: Meteor Crater!!! Photo by mjb2012
Wow! 20 football fields could fit down there! Photo by mjb2012
Navajo Nation Roadside Retailers! Photo by mjb2012
Eponymous Horseshoe Bend! Photo by mjb2012
The Grand Canyon earns its name! Photo by mjb2012
Lake Powell Resort's Rainbow Room: Great Place to Eat and View the Beauty! Photo by mjb2012
missjunebug's Annular Eclipse Point and Shoot Shot Rocks!!! Photo by mjb2012
Cruise America Rvs: Great at Impeding the junebugs' Progress!! Photo by mjb2012

missjunebug’s Tip#1: Get out there and Cruise America! Just don’t do it in a Cruise America RV!!! Try a Jeep instead!!

missjunebug’s Tip#2: Get a Senior Pass at the National Park of your choice for 10 tiny bucks and you can get into any National Park for free forever! How to qualify? Be Mr.JB’s hair color and age: silver and 62!!! The junebugs used his card on the way back to Flagstaff, stopping in at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon using that pretty little card for no dollars!!! Now that’s a fine bene for being a senior.

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A Clean Well-Lighted Blog and a Good Home-Cooked Meal

The best chocolate sheet cake.  Ever.
The best chocolate sheet cake. Ever. (Photo credit: Appletini ?)

missjunebug cooked last night! A complete chickeny meal with two side veggies, a creamy risotto, and a rockin’ dessert! Who does she have to thank for this not-so-everyday occurrence? That unrivaled blogger The Pioneer Woman and missjunebug’s inspiration, ElderJB!

As an occasional blogger herself, missjunebug is truly inspired by the blogs of others and Ree Drummond’s Pioneer Woman blog tops the list of blogs worth checking out. This blog has everything and missjunebug’s blog looks really Mickey Mouse in comparison (no offense, MM!). The only things missjunebug can hold against PW is that she’s from Oklahoma and she graduated from USC. What an unfortunate combination! missjunebug says this with the authority of being a Texan who graduated from UT Austin (Hook ‘Em Horns!). That said, The Pioneer Woman is truly inspiring especially by way of the recipes presented and the outrageously good photos of the cooking process that documents every possible step and then some.

missjunebug thought it was time for some home cooking for her ElderJB who is visiting from his home-away-from-home, Rwanda. Yes, she’d made the requisite Easter ham and pineapple stuffing for Sunday’s celebration, but the junebugs had managed to dine out quite a bit, too, so it was time for some home-cooked nutrition to round things out.

The two vegetable sides were simple: bacon-laced green beans and glazed carrots. Yum. The requisite starch? (requisite must be the Word of the Day!!) Lundberg’s Parmesan Risotto, simple and simply wonderful and done in 20! The main course? Ree’s Chicken in Mustard Sauce laced with plenty of whole grain mustard, a dollop of Grey Poupon, and a full cup of brandy. That’s what missjunebug is talkin’ about! Throw in some garlic and cream, and you’ve got a crave-able sauce that embraces chicken like no other! missjunebug won’t waste your time re-writing the recipe here: check it out on Pioneer Woman yourself when you need something delicious and not too complicated.

Now on to the really important part: the dessert! The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. missjunebug heartily concurs with naming this Texas-size sheet cake the best ever because it is the best ever! This recipe is not exactly easy. There are some steps involved that take some time, melting butter, stirring in lots and lots of cocoa, mixing sugar and flour and stirring pretty much nonstop for a while, then pretty much repeating these same steps for the decadent icing but it is so worth it! Check out The Pioneer Woman for this recipe and make it very, very soon. You will be thanking yourself for days!

Not only is The Best Chocolate Sheet Cake. Ever. a great dessert, it makes an awesome breakfast with a big glass of cold milk (non-fat, natch!). And, yes, that’s what missjunebug had for breakfast this morning!

Let’s hear it for homecomings and home cooking!

 

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Happy Easter! Happy Springtime! Happy Life!

Happy chickie says "Happy Easter"!!!

missjunebug has been away for far too long. She’s been having some fun and dealing with some unfun, kind of like the way life usually is, but she couldn’t let this day pass without wishing a Happy Easter to her faithful readers. Speaking of faith, it’s a good thing to have. She wishes you a lot of it, if you find yourself occasionally lacking in that department. It’s a really good thing to have a pocketful of to carry around with you at all times and in all places. This is as good a day as any to start thinking about getting some! Maybe even the perfect day to start thinking about it, come to think of it!

missjunebug hopes you are joined with friends and family, sharing a meal, a stimulating conversation (ElderJB is the master of ceremonies at the dinner table for starting all philosophicals!) and a moment of reflection on all there is to be grateful for!

Happy Easter! Happy Springtime! Happy Life!

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Two Website Finds…Divine!

English: Red Pinterest logo
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug has been having some fun on the internet! She’s been busy creating her own personal bulletin boards that reflect her tastes, aspirations, desires, and interests. Yes, you guessed it: Pinterest! This is almost as much fun as shopping on the internet, but there’s no credit card required!!

missjunebug’s boards include My Style which reflects fashion preferences, a couple on food (healthy recs “Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not Too Much” and a semi-healthy mega-delicious one entitled “Splurges, Indulgences, and Extravagances” with delicious pics of all those craved only-every-once–in-a-while treats missjunebug can’t live without. What else? Home Decor featuring wished for things for the Hacienda. Tangible Philosophies, a thought-provoking collection of smart things people have mused about and displayed in the most interesting of ways.

missjunebug is sure you get the idea behind Pinterest. Pin pics to  your heart’s content, explore the interests of others, and get altogether inspired by the great ideas out there being pinned and repinned. Cool x 10. Thanks to missjunebug’s friend Rox and her friend for recommending this website. Oh, and speaking of friends one of the coolest parts of Pinterest is following your friend’s interests! Double good fun fo sho.

Now just imagine a website pinning up Design Finds from all over the world that are for sale from $1 to $10,000 or more. Credit card required! If you get a little weary of living in the potential world of fun finds from pinning on Pinterest, move over to Fab.com to do some serious shopping in many interesting marketplaces including ones for fashionistas to foodies and everything in between. missjunebug just made her first purchase of a cool waterproof winter jacket for upcoming travel to the Stans! Yeah, those Stans: Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan! She will be warm and dry no matter the weather there! If you’re a fan of the bargain find on Amazon.com you’ll love the hunt for design finds on Fab.com.

missjunebug wishes you Happy Pinning on Pinterest and Divine Design Find Shopping on Fab.com!

 

 

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Sometimes Dirt is in Exactly the Right Place

English: Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Ch...
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug has a long memory for certain quotations from smart people. One that has stayed with her was written decades ago by John Updike, a writer whose celebrity has faded somewhat, but whose words still resonant for mjb. One of the characters in Witches of Eastwick, a fantastical tale of love, intrigue, and betrayal, had some keen observations about the stuff of life women deal with everyday: “There was so much dirt in life, so many eraser crumbs and stray coffee grounds and dead wasps trapped inside the storm windows, that it seemed all of a person’s time – all of a woman’s time, at any rate – was spent in reallocation, taking things from one place to another, dirt being as her mother said simply matter in the wrong place.”

missjunebug would generally agree with this keen and frustrated observation, but not on this night of all nights. For tonight missjunebug has been to her church to participate in that age old ritual (the best kind of ritual there is) called weightily, The Imposition of the Ashes on Ash Wednesday. To borrow from that online encyclo of the people Wikipedia, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and begins the 40-day period of prayer, fasting, and repentance. As mjb’s insightful Pastor F. suggested, It’s time to do a 180, to recalibrate, and to walk in a new direction, thoughtfully and prayerfully. Easy to say, not so easy to do.

But as missjunebug likes to think, God gives us 40 days to right ourselves and get it right. And those dark ashes imposed upon the waiting forehead in the sign of the cross are a sign of our mourning and repentance to God, a sign of the cross that marks us with a grim reminder of our mortality, a sign that we are working to turn things around for ourselves and get right with God.

Hey, nobody said this was going to be easy. Some people decide to do daily devotionals during Lent focusing on repentance and changing for the better; others decide to give up some coveted thing or indulgence as a sign of commitment to change. Chocolate comes readily to mind for many, it being the ubiquitous shorthand for all things creamy, delicious, craved, and good. Still others turn to good works to get back on the straight and narrow path. Whatever is chosen, the sacrifice is not to be taken lightly. Forty days is a long time (place a Billy Bean/Brad Pitt/Moneyball elongated pronunciation on that phrase to give it its due.) A long time. missjunebug recommends you chose wisely and well.

What has missjunebug chosen to do? That’s between her and her Father “who sees in secret.” Don’t make her out to be like the hypocrites sounding a trumpet before them when they do their good work. mjb plans to keep her 40-day Lenten trial to herself. No doubt she’ll be held accountable. Wish her luck. Believe her when she says what she’s decided to try is harder than giving up TJ’s 73% Belgium Chocolate Non-Pareils. And you know how hard she thinks that would be if you read her recent post on non-pareils!

Why so serious? The words of the imposition make that perfectly clear: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Tru dat.

She’s reminded of one more insightful and tragicomic quotation of John Updike that will complete the grim but joyful hope of life on this earth (yes! a double oxymoron to complete the tale!): “We do survive every moment, after all, except the last one.”

Meditate on the fragility of human life, its perfection and its failings, your perfection and your failings, and you, too, can join in on the age old ritual of Lent and “enjoy” this 40-day journey of prayer, fasting, and repentance.

Amen to that.

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missjunebug’s New Flav Fave: TJ’s Non-Pareils

missjunebug loves her TJ's Dark Chocolate Non-Pareils So Much, She Gave Them a Rose Bouquet!

missjunebug does not take the word nonpareil lightly. Non-pareil means “having no equal” and “unrivaled.” Pretty strong words to live up to. But that’s exactly what Trader Joe’s 73% Belgian Dark Chocolate Non-Pareils are: nonpareil.

Two ingredients, endless deliciousness. The chocolate is super dark, super smooth and chocolately and the white sprinkles will remind you of all the (inferior) nonpareils you scarfed down as a kid. These TJ nonpareils leave the ones of missjunebug’s youth in the dustbin of history, to borrow a phrase from Dubya.

Walk, no run to your local Trader Joe’s and buy a bunch of these candies. Especially if you’ve already managed to eat your way through your Valentine’s Day candy from yesterday. Come one, you know you have. And you’ve got to love the marketing brilliance of measuring out Belgium Dark Chocolate in such precise percentages. missjunebug for sure would pass on 72% Belgian Dark Chocolate Non-Pareils. Who wouldn’t? You gotta have 73%!

Thanks, Trader Joe’s, for another great product. missjunebug thinks that 3 of these gems for 110 calories is a bargain even Weight Watchers would approve. Satisfaction guaranteed!

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