Posted by missjunebug on February 27, 2013
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
Posted by missjunebug on December 19, 2012
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)
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
Posted by missjunebug on December 5, 2012
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!
Posted by missjunebug on December 17, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
missjunebug is not much of a fan of that Julie Andrews song from the treacly Sound of Music--was that really Best Picture??–my! how tastes have changed. Anyway she still likes the idea behind the song: enumerating favorite things can be fun and useful. So here are a few of missjunebug’s current favorite things this time of year:
The Somis Nut House–the most awesome place to buy holiday candy, fruit, and nuts in Ventura County, SoCal. Located in an unassuming building reminiscent of a big shed, you’ll find an array of candy favorites vintage and new as well as nuts amped up with spices, sugars, and smoke. She even found a spicy little mix called Samurai whose name speaks for itself! There are the usual sweet suspects: cherry sours, licorice, a virtual gummy zoo of shapes, malted milk balls on steroids, English toffee that’s pricey but so worth it, and many other chocolatey and foil-wrapped Christmas favs. And nuts and dried fruits galore. Mr.JB’s fav? Dried Kiwi fruit! Pale green disks of sugary sweet fruity goodness that look perfect as the centerpiece of a Christmas gift box. Where is this delightful house of delicacies? 4475 East Los Angeles Avenue Somis, CA 93066-9616 Call them at (805) 386-1211 or check out their website at www.somisnuthouse.com. You and your sweet tooth will be thanking Somis Nut House (and missjunebug) the rest of the holiday season!
Pandora Radio set to Christmas Jazz. If you are a little tired of Jingle Bells barked by dogs or the Vienna Boys Choir somber Latinate songs of the season or the mellifluous but slightly depressing “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” crooned by various old school musical masters like Bing and Tony or updated by Michael B. then try the instrumental and upbeat Christmas Jazz stream playing right now on Pandora. missjunebug recommends it as the best possible music to decorate a Christmas tree or bake cookies to. For a slightly edgier mix try setting your Pandora to Mannheim Steamroller. That will definitely get your Christmas groove on.
Spritz Cookies! What would Christmas be without these little pressed wonders so sparkly and buttery! missjunebug knows you remember she already gave you the recipe for those cookies in a previous blog post. If you don’t believe her just search her very accommodating site for it under Semi-Healthy Mega-Delicious Recipes! And make some! If you can’t find the time to do that and you still crave sugar cookies, try to make it to Royal Bakery in Ventura for some delicious Christmas sugar cookies that are so worth the drive! Green trees! Red stockings! Black and white cows! Okay, so the cow cookies are not particularly seasonal, but they are delicious!
A fresh-cut Christmas Tree from the Men of the Elks Lodge or other such helping organization! These dedicated white-haired gentlemen provide funding for so many worthy charitable enterprises in local communities, you’ll feel practically holy buying a tree from them! And the piney fragrance is worth every penny! So bite the bullet, dole out the cash, and inhale the green freshness of that very noble Nobel Fir!
A Kiva Gift Card to help support small business entrepreneurs throughout the world. This is the quintessential gift that keeps on giving. As soon as the global entrepreneur pays back the loan, guess what? You can re-lend it again! And again! missjunebug has helped finance a Kenyan moto man so that he could buy some new tires for his burgeoning motorcycle taxi transportation service, a Rwandan woman who needed to procure beauty products for her salon, and another Rwandan woman supplying her clothing business with some fresh fashions! It’s never been more interesting to provide a hand up, not a hand out! Check out this super worthy enterprise at www.kiva.com!
Now missjunebug has an important question for you: What are your favorite things of the season? Shopping? Eating? Watching Christmasy movies–(actually, missjunebug should have included this one, too). Figure it out! Get busy doing them! And do as Julia says,”I simply remember my favorite things and then I don’t feel so bad.”
Posted by missjunebug on November 16, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
missjunebug has been thinking about writing things down lately. She’s started her usual lists for this time of year–Thanksgiving pie ingredients, Christmas presents for her side of the family and Mr.JB’s side of the family, seasonal chores to do–you get the idea. She’s been especially taken by a program on her fab little MacPro called Things that keeps her on task and productive. It contains EVERYTHING a person needs to succeed in, to borrow a phrase from David Allen, getting things done!
If you know D.A. you’ll readily see the way in which Things meshes perfectly with the Getting Things Done precepts. And it’s fun!
If you find yourself in search of some order in your goal setting and a way of tracking your progress, missjunebug assures you that you can’t go wrong with Things. She wants to give a shout out to ElderJB who got her started using Things! Thanks, ElderJB! Good on you!
Of course, you can always set your default to The Paper List when your computer isn’t handy! It’s small, simple, portable, and check-off-able! missjunebug is a big proponent of all things Occam’s Razor -y!
Another fun internet site to set your sights on for list making is www.43things.com. You can make your own goal list or be inspired by others! Think of this as good preparation for those New Year’s Resolutions which are just a blink away!
Posted by missjunebug on November 9, 2011
A Plethora of Petite Pumpkins Christmas Style! Photo by mjb2011
missjunebug wasn’t quite ready to part with her petite pumpkins after Halloween so she decided to bust out her Liquitex Acrylic Paints and have some fun. She’s done this little transformation for a few years for a bunch of good reasons. Here are some of them:
1. Those little pumpkins are just too cute to throw out! missjunebug likes the idea of repurposing her decorations whenever possible.
2. This painting project is so easy! It just takes a couple of hours depending upon how intricate you want to get with your designs.
3. missjunebug loves instant gratification and these little pumpkin gems just glow once painted with shimmery gold, bronze, silver, red, and green. But feel free to create your own color palette if you try this fun project.
4. It’s impossible to mess this project up! Any design works! Any color works! And the clean up is super easy. Swirl your brushes in some water and voila! You are done!
Place these petite pumpkins around the house for a colorful burst of holiday spirit or gather them all together for a lovely centerpiece. Get your holiday arts and craft groove on! You will be delighted with the results!
Posted by missjunebug on November 5, 2011
Image via Wikipedia
missjunebug knows you know the rest. She was running a few errands today, a Saturday, something she almost never does since she has the leisure to shop during the week when 90% of the world is working give or take a per cent or two. And what does she find at her local mall? A FULL sign on level one of the parking garage. No way! She circled up to level two where she usually parks where there were only 56 spaces available out of hundreds. No way!
Lucky for missjunebug she found an open one! Now Level Two was down to 55 spaces!
missjunebug was on a mission! She was buying a birthday gift card for a friend and a wedding present for a lovely niece, but the people she was bumping into had already polished off the Halloween candy and dashed right to the Christmas stocking. And stocking up they were! Perhaps this is a good sign for the economic doldrums the country’s been navigating through for three years give or take a year. (Check out Margin Call with Kevin Spacey if you need a refresh about how we ended up in those econodoldrums.)
But missjunebug digresses.
Back to the madcap shopping going on at her mall: she was hardly in the mood for it. Why? She’d just watched Skipping Christmas the day before. Yes, you read that right. She watched her first Christmas movie on the 4th day of November while she was baking cookies for a church event–one unrelated to holiday cheer.
missjunebug is just not ready for the seasonal whimsy quite yet! And if you are at all familiar with John Grisham‘s little homage to Christmas…spoiler alert…believe missjunebug when she says in the filmed version despite what the title promises, the Kranks played by Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis most definitely do not skip Christmas.
Not that missjunebug would really want to. She’d just like to ask for a delay of game! At least tonight she can fall back an hour on the clock postponing the frenzied inevitable.
Posted by missjunebug on January 20, 2011
Here's the Vital Contact Info for Kringles Sent Straight to Your Home! Photo by mjb2011
If missjunebug hadn’t gone shopping for TinyJB in her last visit to the Midwest, she would still be blithely unaware of one of the most delicious breakfasts treats on the planet! Thank goodness TinyJB needed a few grocery items in his kitchen (except beer, of course! Plenty of that in the frig!).
She enjoyed her very first Kringle sitting around TinyJB’s breakfast table last fall, enjoying the company of TinyJB, his cute as a button friend Leslie from Michigan, and Mr.JB. What a great impromptu breakfast! Cherry Kringle: A flaky, flat oval with fab cherry filling topped with the most delicious icing. It’s like a squashed filled donut sans frying! Brilliant!!!! Those Midwesterners know what’s good to eat and drink. (For another post, another time missjunebug will delve into the wonders of the Milkwaukee Lakeside Brewery Beers! Skol!).
missjunebug needed more!! (Kringle, not Brewski)!!! But sadly the JBs had a plane to catch and a re-supply for take-home was not meant to be.
Enter the Awesome Ricks!!! For Christmas the JBboys and missjunebug and Mr.JB received Kringles for the holidays and beyond. missjunebug is now a member of the Kringle of the Month Club as mentioned in her post-Christmas post!!! (Thanks again, Awesome Ricks!!) What a lasting reminder of the holiday festivities that she can bust out on her breakfast table whatever morning she wishes! Deliciousness x 10!! And, yes, she tracks the calories (1/12 of the oval = 250) on My Daily Plate at www.livestrong.com and believe her when she ways it’s worth every single one of those pesky calories to enjoy the oval icing-slathered, fruit-filled or other-filled wonder Kringle!!!
Decidedly NOT Ashram approved, but missjunebug cannot live by steel-cut oats alone!
Here's the Cinnamon Kringle Close-up! Photo by mjb2011
Posted by missjunebug on December 26, 2010
The junebugs had the best Christmas EVER! Food Fun: Racine Kringles, those magical circles of pastry dough, fruit filling, and lots and lots of icing were the best surprise! And the junebugs were enrolled in the Kringle of the Month Club, a club missjunebug has long aspired to join! Thanks, Ricks!!! Delicious truffles from New Hampshire! Thanks, Landys!!! What delicious fun!
Only to be topped by perhaps the most entertaining gifts for the kids ever, pictured here:
Surprise! It flies! Thanks, JBUnc &JBAunt! Photo by ElderJB
The Helizone Firebird Helicopter!!! Â It did take a full morning of post unwrapping tinkering to get those pesky copters off the ground, but when they took flight, they were unstoppable and indestructible!!!! It was truly a Christmas Miracle!!!!
Forget the Canon60D Camera for Elder JB and the MacAir for TinyJB! Â Those high tech toys didn’t hold a candle to the Helizone Firebird!
TinyJB shows the love for his new Christmas toy! Photo by ElderJB
Posted by missjunebug on December 19, 2010
missjunebug and her fam. favor the real thing when it comes to Christmas trees. Many of her friends have made the sensible move to the boxable, artificial tree they can depend upon year after year, no fuss, no hassle, but the junebugs keep fighting the good fight of trekking to the tree lot, choosing a fresh tree, wrestling it onto and off of the SUV, hauling it up the stairs, hammering in the stand, and setting it up in the middle of the Great Room. Yeah! That was fun!
And this year was no exception! Except that ElderJB chose an exceptional tree: 10 feet tall!. Thanks, ElderJB!!! But somehow it all worked out: ElderJB, MG (ElderJB’s best girl), missjunebug, and Mr.JB were able to get all 10 feet of it into the little Hacienda without a hitch! Then began the many-hands-make-light-work decorating mission! MG and Mr.JB on the lights, ElderJB and missjunebug on the ornaments. And before missjunebug could say “Twas the night before Christmas” three times fast, that gorgeous hunk of evergreen was shiny and bright with lights and bulbs and a lifetime of junebug ornamental memorabilia from grade school on! What used to take missjunebug a week to decorate by herself was done in one delightful evening (cue Christmas carols and brandied eggnog!).
Whether your tree is the real thing or the perfect imitation, enjoy its unique beauty and decorate it with the spirit of Christmas!