Tag Archives: Holidays

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!

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 !

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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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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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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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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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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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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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 Homage to Valentine’s Day or How to Fall Back in Love with Your Sweetie Pie

 

One from the Heart! Happy Valentine's Day from missjunebug!

missjunebug has decided to write her missive about Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day Eve. Pourquoi? (the requisite bon mot of French for V-Day) you may ask?

Because tomorrow missjunebug will be way, way, way too busy scarfing down See’s Candies Strawberry Creams and swilling Frexinet Champagne in that sexy-chic and sleek black bottle and swirling her new Jennifer Miller Jewelry faux (another Français bon mot!!!) diamond-size seven-yellow gold bracelet around her wrist that she ordered for Mr.JB to give her (natch!), to be bothered with anything wordpressy and tedious.

missjunebug has mixed feelings about V-Day what with all the commercial hoop-la, Lifetime cry-fest movies, and rom-coms littering the airwaves, streaming bands of Netflix, and guilty pleasure-rented iPad movies. (missjunebugTip: Skip Blue Valentine with Gosling and Williams: triple downer on steroids, but an excellent film–save it for a dark and stormy winter’s night. But if you do choose to watch it –even though the title alone should scare you off–have Jane Eyre (2011) or Pride & Prejudice (any version will do) or Downton Abbey Season One waiting in the wings for an emotional uplift because you are going to need it after BV).

missjunebug’s bottom Valentine line is it’s all about LOVE.

So how do we fall back into LOVE if our Sweetie Pies (MrJB for mjb) have been with us for 30+ years??? missjunebug has done thousands and thousands of loads of laundry, washing the Jockey t-shirts and underwear (eww: skid marks!) of her SP about a kagillion times, fixed countless sometimes-inspired meals, (sometimes not), made the bed every morning (or at least her half of the bed, because mjb must admit, her SP makes his half–thanks Mr.JB), planned social outings because somehow that task falls to her most of the time, and even set the queue for their streaming evening entertainment (no more WWII movies puhleeze, Mr.JB; missjunebug is currently partial to French subtitled rom-coms, a cut above the American ones–except for any American-made rom-com with her guilty crush AplusK. (sigh). Sorry Demi, you did the one thing that can’t be allowed a woman in Hollywood married to a (much) younger man: you got old. missjunebug so does not envy you this V-Day.

But missjunebug digresses. How to get the LOVE back into a mature marriage? That is the V-Day question. And here are missjunebug’s super practical, maybe no-fail mjbTips to help you just do it. After all, LOVE is a verb, an action, (mjb’s Master’s in English pays off big time) and that will make all the difference.

1. Say a prayer every night thanking God for your man. missjunebug has a dear friend who recently lost hers and believe mjb when she says that is NO picnic. Her dear friend is shouldering on, but the thing is, she no longer has a solid, manly man shoulder to lean on. Think about that the next time you start mentally nagging your SP. At least he is THERE to listen to your nagging if you have the temerity to vocalize it. mjb advice: Stifle the nagging. It is a guaranteed marriage and romance buzzkill. Don’t ever, ever go there. A) It doesn’t work. B) It’s rude as well as unkind and (mostly) unwarranted. and C) It doesn’t work. You’re a smart cookie. Figure out a way to politely cajole or do the damn thing yourself that has to get done…remember LOVE is also a verb, not just a noun. Okay, so say that prayer of gratitude to soften you naggy attitude. You won’t regret it, and God and your help-meet with appreciate it. Guaranteed.

2. Be happy to plan the social outings. You know all your girlfriends are having to do the same thing, too, so have some fun with it and double date or triple date. mjb has two dear friends + hubs that she and her Mr.JB celebrate New Year’s Eve with every year. No better place to be than in one of their homes, drinking champagne (or martinis–triple olives, please), and popping Poppers when the clock strikes twelve and poor old Dick Clark gets rolled out again on his taxidermy stand to wish us all a Happy New Year‘s. Fun times x 6!!! So bust out that calendar, email, text, tweet, or call your married friends or solid single friends–don’t invite problems with unattached women you can’t trust–because our silver fox men are looking better and wealthier every year! True dat. And make some fun plans to do something, anything that shakes up the routine a bit. A movie, a dinner and a movie, a museum date, a local play, a music experience, a quick stroll around the outlet malls (okay, maybe not so quick), a walk along the beach or in your own neighborhood! Many, many fun things to do if  you’re willing to make the initial move. Just do it!

3. Praise your husband to your children. You loved ’em and nurtured ’em unconditionally, but your SP taught them how to be wonderful men and women. ElderJB and TinyJB don’t spend much time referencing what they learned from their mom missjunebug, but you can bet Mr.JB gets mentioned repeatedly in sentences that begin: I remember Dad said… I remember Dad did this.. I remember everything I every learned from Dad and just now I’m beginning to appreciate his profound wisdom as a man, husband, father, friend, breadwinner, spiritual leader, and all round great and ethical human being. So say ElderJB and TinyJB. So says missjunebug. So say we all.

4. Keep buying you SP’s wardrobe and sending those shirts to the cleaners-you know you’ll never get around to ironing all of them so don’t kid yourself! Keep your man well-clothed and encourage the occasional haircut, eyebrow trim, and nose and ear ream-out. Speaking of ream-outs. Get him in for his colonoscopy asap if he hasn’t had one yet! This kind of maintenance is absolutely essential for a full and fun second half of life. And throw in a physical with a good internist while you are at it. Encourage good grooming and exercise to maintain your SP in tip-top shape. Who benefits? He does, of course. But so do you!

5. Feed you man according to the Michael Pollan/Mark Bittman plan. Food does matter so “eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” And throw in a little red wine for good measure. One of mjb and Mr.JB’s faves? Monogamy Cabernet Sauvignon featured on a previous mjb blog post! But choose his fave and you can’t go wrong. Cheers!

Are there other tips? Keep things interesting in the bedroom. A little lovely lacey and racey lingerie never hurt (missjunebug must try this herself sometime!). Surprise him every once in a while with an interesting story, an amusing anecdote, or just a line or two from the newspaper you can quote to him. Have both of you listen to NPR together in the morning as you prepare for your day…lots of good stories to talk and debate about that are always in the news. Listen to Marketplace.org for some fun and scary facts about our economy! Our local NPR station KCLU 88.3 has the best local coverage, too, for Ventura County so you get triple benefit with news, weather, and traffic reports. This year Mr.JB and mjb donated some funds and received excellent seats to see Yo Yo Ma, master cellist, up in Santa Barbara in April. What a great cause to support and what a great gift in return! Thanks KCLU and program director Mary Olsen. Sweet x 88.3.

Other mjbTips? Just love him up before he leaves the house with a big hug and love him up with a big hug when he comes home. It’s rough out there, and our SPs are not getting any younger, better maybe, but not younger. Somehow what they’re up against, is younger, faster, hipper, and much more technologically expert, so fortify them with hugs infused with LOVE and encouragement.

Are you back in love with your SP yet? No? Okay, then think of all the reasons you married him in the first place, and yeah, you picked him!! That’s a really good thing to remember!

Is he sweet? funny? kind? adventurous? smart? capable? loving? spiritual? giving? cute? handsome? (lucky you! But missjunebug will take intelligence over looks any day of the week and twice on Sundays! just mjb’s pref.) or all of the above? (even luckier you!). In other words, remember why you fell in love with him and want to be in love with him again. It’s all still there, you just have to take the time to discover it again.

And remember what Rhianna wisely sings, “I found love in a hopeless place…I found love in a hope-less place.”

You can too! Now go give your man a big Valentine’s Eve hug and an even bigger one tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

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A Few of missjunebug’s Favorite Things

English: Christmas cookies in Czech republic. ...
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.”

Happy Holidays!

 

 

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Petite Pumpkins Straddle the Holiday Season

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!

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It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like…

Christmas tree with presents
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!

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.

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Halloween Photo Fun!

Simple pumpkins not so simple any more: Red, orange greenish, white and warty! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug had some fun this weekend taking a few Halloween pictures that capture the spooky vibe of the season. Try not to get too scared. She’ll provide you with the Cornish benediction to cure all scariness that manifests this time of year:

From ghoulies and ghosties and long-legged beasties,

and things that go bump in the night,

good Lord, deliver us!

Happy Halloween!

Fine seasonal signage! Hey, Pumpkin Head Man! Photo by mjb2011

 

Smiley pumpkin with a spooky pitchfork! Creepy plus!! Photo by mjb2011

 

What's scarier? The Hairy Skeleton or the Steroidal Strawberry? Photo by mjb2011

 

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Some Like It Hot

The African Savanna? Nope. The Living Desert in Palm Desert!

missjunebug and her MrJB struck a deal recently: when he travels on business, she travels on pleasure. mjb suspects she has the better end of the agreement and she hopes Mr.JB doesn’t figure this out anytime soon. So when Mr.JB headed off to the exotic heat of Shanghai to wheel and deal, missjunebug headed to a more prosaic and decidedly closer heat (105°-119°) in the low desert of the twin palms: Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

missjunebug considers these two gorgeous desert cities her personal playground having traveled to them many times over the past few years. But this time she decided to play tourist.

Her digs? The fab Club Intrawest at the corner of Cook and Country Club in Palm Desert located contiguously to the meticulously groomed Desert Willow Golf Course.

A Room With a View at Club Intrawest! Photo by mjb2011

Her first stop? The Living Desert and Botanical Garden in Palm Desert at 47900 Portola Ave (760) 346-5694. missjunebug really likes their motto: Desert Conservation Through Preservation, Education, and Appreciation.

missjunebug has lots and lots of appreciation for The Living Desert. Check out her pictures and then take note of the summer hours. Admission is super reasonable–less than 3 lattes–and there are so many interesting flora and fauna to see. When you are in striking distance of L.A. you are within range of the Living Desert so don’t miss it!

Summer Hours:

Open every day June 1 to September 30

8:00am to 1:30pm

Last admission at 1:00pm

The Lush Entrance! Photo by mjb2011
The African Savanna? Nope. The Living Desert in Palm Desert!
Zebra Chillin" under the Brella! Photo by mjb2011
Nifty Fennec Fox! Photo by mjb2011
Can you find the Fennec? Clue: Look for the Big Ears! Photo by mjb2011

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The Case Against Packing Light

Suitcase
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug and her Mr.JB are heading out for a cruise adventure soon on the Regent Seven Seas Mariner. Destination: Mediterranean! She’s been busy as a bee (mixed simile since she’s a junebug!) selecting her wardrobe and thinking about the different philosophies out there regarding packing for trips.

One of her acquaintances explained how she packed for a recent trip two-week trip to Paris: twenty-two inches of carry-on only. What was her secret? Only two pairs of shoes-walking and dress, a few neutral pants and tops, one dress, and lots and lots of scarves to make each outfit look fresh and new.

Hmmm. In Paris with only two pairs of shoes? That is strictly against missjunebug’s fashionista principles. Part of the fun of the trip is the planning, anticipation, and pairing of shoes and accessories with outfits missjunebug feels good in! What’s the point of strolling down the Champs Elysees if you feel like a schlumpadink in infinitely recycled pants and tops and a few sad scarves! missjunebug appreciates the lightness of being a 22″ case affords the traveler, but give her the almost infinite capacity of her rolling duffle and Tumi wardrobe bag any day!

Another of her acquaintances created a brilliant system using Ziploc bags. One outfit per day including the underwear, bagged, zipped, ready to go. On her way to her morning shower, she grabs a Ziploc and voila! She is set! Fortunately for her, she’s svelte and her size 0-1 clothing is tiny to begin with so it easily fits into a Ziploc bag. missjunebug would need a trash size bag for her size 8/10’s! While she admires this packing system, her acquaintance occasionally finds she has underpacked since she only allows herself one Ziploc bag per day per trip. If something unusual comes up, she’s short clothes! This is tragic to missjunebug because her packing system relies on one very important one-word principle:

CHOICE!

Yes, missjunebug takes plenty of shoes, scarves, jewelry, shirts, pants, dresses, swimsuits, wraps, work-out togs, jackets, and p.j.s to pick and choose from! Why? Two reasons: She’s got a generous weight limit (50 lbs. per two bag limit)–why not use it? and she’s a bug of many moods–what she might feel like wearing one day will simply not necessarily work for another day. That’s a fact of human psychology and believe her when she says fashion and dress are filled with psychological pay-offs and pitfalls. Just watch one episode of Gossip Girl if you don’t believe her!

Soooo, missjunebug will be filling her bags to the brim and enjoying the infinite combinations her packing plan affords!

Bon Voyage!

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Happy Mother’s Day!

A Virtual Bouquet for All the Moms! Photo by mjb2011
A Virtual Bouquet for All the Moms! Photo by mjb2011

missjunebug is enjoying this special day with breakfast out with her Mr.JB (Thanks, Ric’s Restaurant and Mr.JB!), a little shopping-new cruise-ready walking shoes-Privos! for missjunebug and J&M’s for Mr.JB, new purse-spring green Baggalini!, new pens-Sarasa Gel Retractables in a rainbow of colors! (missjunebug ♥ school supplies!), and a little post-shopping viewing of her fav show House Hunters International! She even got a couple of Hallmark e-cards from Mr.JB, Spoonbug, and LeftyCat that were high on hilarity with rockin’ musical accompaniment for chair-dancing, one of missjunebug’s favorite semi-active activities.

Almost a perfect day!

She’s heard from TinyJB via his sometime maligned but ever-so-useful-for-quick-connections Facebook posting that was simplicity itself–happy mother’s day (sic). Thanks, TinyJB! missjunebug ♥ you big time. (But work on capitalizing those proper nouns!) She’s hoping  ElderJB checks in, too! Time zone issues always plague such connections, but missjunebug thinks he might come through before Mother’s Day officially concludes! If she does hear from ElderJB, it will be a perfect Mother’s Day!

missjunebug hopes all the mothers out there have a fab day that honors them for all they do and all the love they give! Mothers rock!

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All Things Sweet and Good

Hanácké kraslice, a traditional way of decorat...
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug is slowly emerging from her Easter-candy-induced sugar coma. She is thankful for all things sweet and good, especially her Mr.JB, ElderJB, and TinyJB. Oh, and See’s Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Eggs, she’s thankful for those, too. She managed to draw the line at the Deep-Fried Peeps!

missjunebug hopes you had a wonderful Easter/Passover/Celebrate Spring Holiday. Now it’s back to clean eating and occasional exercising. All things in moderation!

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Statue of St Patrick from Agahower.
Image via Wikipedia

missjunebug wishes you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day today. She had a fine time eating her corned beef and cabbage lunch at the local hospital where she volunteers. The St. Patty’s Day Lunch Special was delicious!

Since everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, missjunebug would like to leave you with this little Irish Blessing that she learned when TinyJB attended Notre Dame, the home of the Fighting Irish:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

And rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

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missjunebug’s 2010: Put that one in the Rearview!

missjunebug's P.I.C. prepares last year's Rockin' New Year's Fun! Photo by mjb2009

missjunebug can’t get waited for 2010 to end (She thanks her JBDad-may he rest in peace-for that little expression!). O what a year it’s been!

Here’s her mixed bag of medical mishaps, mayhem, and monumental events:

Diagnosis: The Big C with the Big O! Hysterectomy followed! Then chemo, then pelvic radiation, then follow-up. And did she mention springing a leak in her poor little belly button post surgery! You cannot make this stuff up! Ree Diculous. missjunebug has officially entered her post-patient C-survivor status and would most definitely like to keep it that way.

An outrageous trip to Africa by way of Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo was squeezed in between moments of medical mayhem! Now missjunebug understands firsthand why ElderJB loves it there!

JBDad’s passing filled with grief, regret, sadness, celebration, and so much more. Life for JBDad was circumscribed by a mind that no longer supplied the “I” of identity. But missjunebug and her JBbro remember the real JBDad with love and appreciation.

ElderJB makes an unexpected trip home to offer some TLC to his JBMom! What a nice break from thinking about yes, you guessed it: medical mayhem!

TinyJB graduates with pomp, circumstance, and a temporary job! Go Irish! Easily one of the best weekends of missjunebug’s life and she’s got the pictures to prove it. Now if the economy can just cooperate and cut her TinyJB some slack for securing his next gig!

Eclipse chasing never felt so good: Tahiti rocked! Hao Atoll rolled! And all the pictures Mr.JB took were prizeworthy. missjunebug and Mr.JB look forward to 2012 for the next total solar eclipse in Australia!

The last blast of Irish football occurred ND-Michigan weekend, where, alas, the Irish went down to defeat due to QB1 difficulties. But things still hopped all weekend long at the Backer, the tailgate parties, and the post-loss non-celebration dinner in downtown South Bend! Woo-hoo!

Onto Wisconsin Thanksgiving reunion where all Mr.JB clan minus ElderJB gathered in Whitefish Bay for freezing temperatures(!) and steaming hot Thanksgiving fare! What fun! What family! And the Lakeside Brewery Tour and Polka-Fest rounded out the holiday weekend perfectly!

All missjunebug’s Christmas dreams came true with the best tree ever and the most fun family gathering of the JBclan! The junebugs ate too much! partyied too much! spent too much! but wouldn’t change a thing!

O what a year it’s been! One more celebration beckons thanks to her dear p.i.c. (pictured above!) who will host this year’s (and last year’s! and the year before’s!!?) New Year’s Eve Rockin’ Blow-out in the Burbs! Mr.JB and missjunebug are off to BevMo to score some champagne and Godiva White Chocolate Liquer as their contribution to the fete!

Fun times ahead as they ring out this outta control 2010 and look forward to a better, heathier, happier 2011! May it be so with you and yours!

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A Christmas Miracle!

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
Surprise! It flies! Thanks, JBUnc &JBAunt! Photo by ElderJB

The Helizone Firebird Helicopter!!!  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!  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
TinyJB shows the love for his new Christmas toy! Photo by ElderJB
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Christmas Trees: Nothing Like the Real Thing!

IMG_0207

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!

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Misgivings About the Season of Giving

Thanks for this, Ms.JBSis-in-Law! Photo by mjb2010
Thanks for this, Ms.JBSis-in-Law! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug is going through her usual failure of confidence that strikes this time of year. Did she buy the right gifts? Did she spend too much on some, not enough on others? Is her house decorated well enough? Will her cookies measure up? Will Mr.JB finish stringing all those pesky Christmas lights? Will her Christmas visitors approve of what they see and experience at the junebugs’ little Hacienda? It’s enough to drive a bug buggy. She confided to a friend recently that she felt a little like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming car. Make that a reindeer.

Here’s her checklist of what still needs to be done:

◊ EVERYTHING!

Wish her luck as she whips up some Spritz Cookies, Chex Mix, and dinner menus with one hand and wraps those questionable gifts with the other. She won’t even go into what still needs to be cleaned up and made habitable! Ah…the holidays! Fun times!

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An Easy Way to Eat Healthy

A Tower O' Healthy Eats! Photo by mjb2010
A Tower O' Healthy Eats! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug is on mission to reform her diet, especially after the tasty Thanksgiving detour she recently took. With Mr.JB out of town and Christmas trappings to joyfully distribute around the Hacienda, she didn’t want to waste time cooking for one. What to do? What to do?

Her answer: Deli Salads!!! Oh. my. yes. After her monthly appointment to flush her cath-port (another story, another time), she swung by Gelson’s to pick up food for the week in those handy little #1 containers. Such variety. Such deliciousness. And simple, simple, simple.

missjunebug had a tough time deciding but she finally settled on Wild Wheatberry Salad, Jessica’s Super Antioxidant Chopped Salad, Jessica’s Chopped Vegetable Barley Salad, Homemade Potato Salad, and Vegetable Greek Salad with Feta! And guess what? missjunebug bought enough little salads to get a #2-sized container of Fresh Fruit Salad for FREE!! Truly, life is good.

Okay, missjunebug knows what you’re thinking: Any indulgences? Well, yes, as a matter of fact, there was one. She also got a #1 container of Cornbread Stuffing. Since she suffers from a dearth, actually an entire absence of Thanksgiving leftovers, having enjoyed Thanksgiving at Mr.JB’s sister’s in Wisconsin, she had a leftover craving for Cornbread Stuffing. Yum. She ate that in place of the meat course! Brilliant!

The moral to this little food story? When you find yourself on your own, have a healthy food party for one with delicious deli salads! This is the kind of indulgence you can absolutely afford!

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Gratitude Attitude a Hallmark of Happiness

Thanks ElderJB for This Delightful Turkey! mjb2010
Thanks ElderJB for This Delightful Turkey! mjb2010

Happy Thanksgiving! missjunebug loves this holiday and hopes you do, too! Savory food and family and all that pie! And so much to be thankful for!

Turns out that’s a really good thing to be: thankful. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Grateful people are happier, healthier long after the leftovers are gobbled up.”

The benefits of gratitude are legion: more of all the good things we want as human beings: optimism, energy, social connections, money (!), exercise, sleep, and even resistance to viral infections!!

missjunebug encourages you to cultivate gratitude daily in a gratitude journal, in daily prayer, in meditation, or in your own special way. missjunebug writes her thanks on those little iPhone post-it notes and in her Moleskines and she concludes each evening with her Dear Lord, thank you for this day prayer. Keep it simple. Make it grateful. Amen to that!

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missjunebug Loves a Fourth of July Parade!

Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010

Happy Birthday USA!

missjunebug loves being an American junebug. And she really loves a Fourth of July Parade! This year she had to go no further than her own block to see one. The First Annual Presilla Tractor Parade on her very own street! What fun! Mr.JB was outside in their backyard, heard some patriotic music and looked over their fence to see a line of tractors decked out in sparkles and bangles and banners and flags heading up the hill! He ran in the house to tell missjunebug the good news. They changed into their patriotic t-shirts, grabbed their dog Spoonbug, put the roof down on the car, and made a dash around the block to catch the parade at the top of the hill! What followed was a wave fest, happy Fourth of July greetings, and an invitation to join the parade! Lucky junebugs! Of course, they wasted no time u-turning to take their place in the tractor line-up for the rest of the route!

missjunebug managed to take lots of pictures and say big hellos to her tractored-up west-end neighbors, some for the first time. The junebugs felt a part of the vast web of Fourth of July Parades taking place all across America to celebrate this great country. How lucky for them that one took place right on their own street!

Happy Fourth of July!

Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Photo by mjb2010
Mr.JB Flips a U-ie to Join the Fun! Photo by mjb2010
Mr.JB Flips a U-ie to Join the Fun! Photo by mjb2010
Happy Fourth of July, America!! Photo by mjb2010
Happy Fourth of July, America!! Photo by mjb2010
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A Bittersweet Father’s Day for missjunebug

Vintage Father's Day Present for Mr.JB from A Long Day Ago! Photo by mjb2010
Vintage Father's Day Present for Mr.JB from A Long Day Ago! Photo by mjb2010
ElderJB and TinyJB Agree! Photo by mjb2010
ElderJB and TinyJB Agree! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug wishes her Mr.JB the best Father’s Day ever because as the wise cup proclaims he is the best! She’s sure her Elder JB and TinyJB agree!

He will have to be patient for his big present though. It’s still on order: a beautiful chaise lounge for relaxing. He will need it after all that heinous weed-wacking. Sadly, the junebugs were red tagged by the local fire department and must continue to fight back those waist-high weeds with all they’ve got: weed wacker, clippers, mower, rakes, and pitchforks! Happily, the end is in sight and before long Mr.JB will be luxuriating in his 2010 model Tropitone comfy chaise lounge complete with wheels! Happy Father’s Day, Mr.JB.!! missjunebug hearts you BIG TIME.

What’s the bittersweet part of Father’s Day? It’s missjunebug’s first without her dear departed JBDad. She’s been making or sending Father’s Day cards to him for more that half a century. This year, sadly, she has been permanently relieved of that daughterly duty. She misses this love-filled ritual. But even more, she misses him. Just for the earthly record, Happy Father’s Day, JBDad! Love you forever.

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University of Notre Dame Commencement 2010: One of the Best Weekends of missjunebug’s Life!

The Glorious Dome! Photo by mjb2010
The Glorious Dome! Photo by mjb2010

TinyJB’s commencement at the University of Notre Dame this past weekend surpassed all missjunebug’s highest expectations! The entire junebug family celebrated with TinyJB his awesome achievement of graduating with a B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering. The three days were action packed! The junebug family started with a celebratory dinner at Sorin’s in the Morris Inn. Delicious! missjunebug had the trout.

After dinner they strolled the campus and took a moment to soak up the holy atmosphere of the Grotto and you better believe missjunebug and her Mr.JB said a prayer of thanks after they lit a candle. The grotto blazed with glorious light and good intentions. The next day the junebugs attended the Commencement Mass at Joyce Center and celebrated at the dinner held in the Hogwart’s-like South Dining Hall. It was truly magical: Wonderful food! Sparkling champagne! And a wall of cakes! Unbelievable! The Glee Club performance at the Leighton Concert Hall rounded out the night with unparalleled acapella! Whew! What a day! Delightful x 10. But the best was yet to come.

The junebugs headed to the famed University of Notre Dame Stadium for the commencement. Number 165! And the first one held in the stadium since forever practically! The weather cooperated perfectly: Cool and clear with lots and lots of sun shining. The venue looked rock-concert worthy and Touchdown Jesus looked on with complete approval. The academic procession began with a flourish of  Pomp and Circumstance from the Notre Dame musicians and each school was introduced as they made their way under the Go Irish archway. missjunebug and Mr.JB looked on with pride and even the ever-chill ElderJB was impressed (G-Town 2004 Walsh School of Foreign Service!). Katie the Valedictorian made a speech to remember and Brian Williams kept the audience laughing until he took a serious turn into the challenges these smart kids would soon face. He concluded with a list of Great Things that were, well, great! No doubt missjunebug’s fans can check out BW’s address on youtube. Absolutely worth the time. The stadium audience howled their approval at the conclusion of the commencement ceremony and adjourned to box lunches and small get togethers with the individual schools with which the grads were affiliated.

One last event: The intimate ceremony of each individual school. What a personal and accessible way to hand out diplomas! The junebug clan cheered on their TinyJB as he shook hands with his awesome department chair and future work supervisor. TinyJB will be doing research (Paid!!) on campus starting in the summer. Sweet x 10.

As Brian Williams pointed out in his speech, the graduates have earned something that can never be taken away from them. They are proud graduates of the University of Notre Dame du Lac. Congratulations, TinyJB!

Here’s a little photo essay of the junebug’s Weekend of a Lifetime!

This Banner Says It All! Photo by mjb2010
This Banner Says It All! Photo by mjb2010
missjunebug Gives Her TinyJB a Big Hug! Photo by mjb2010
missjunebug Gives Her TinyJB a Big Hug! Photo by mjb2010
A Terrific Trio! Photo by mjb2010
A Terrific Trio! Photo by mjb2010
TinyJB's Entourage On the Way to the Basilica! Photo by mjb2010
TinyJB's Entourage On the Way to the Basilica! Photo by mjb2010

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Happy Mother’s Day! from missjunebug

Tiny Hands! Great Heart! Thanks TinyJB! Photo by mjb2010
Tiny Hands! Great Heart! Thanks TinyJB! Photo by mjb2010

missjunebug wants to wish every mother the very best day this Mother’s Day! She plans to spend her morning having Mother’s Day breakfast at her favorite breakfast cafe Pete’s Breakfast House in Ventura. Search this blog for her review of Pete’s done a while back if you haven’t been to Pete’s yourself for the best waffles and side of bacon ever.

She’s pretty sure the topic of conversation she will have with Mr.JB after they talk about how great the food is, is how blessed she is to have the two most wonderful sons on the planet, ElderJB and TinyJB. She’d change that little poem of TinyJB’s to say Father in heaven/Whose love is divine/Thanks for the love/Of sons like mine.

missjunebug wanted to share with all her readers, especially the mothers, this very lovely homage to motherhood created by her TinyJB when he was, well, tiny! A long day ago (as ElderJB used to say) some very resourceful Sunday school teacher at her dear HTLC helped TinyJB make this wall hanging as a Mother’s Day present. missjunebug has this very special and crafty memento hanging in her laundry room to cheer her while she does that most motherly of chores, the weekly laundry.

On this special day she also remembers her own dear mother, the lovely JBMarie who taught her so much about motherhood and loved missjunebug and her JBbro with the best kind of love there is: unconditional.

To all the mothers out there, Happy Mother’s Day!

missjunebug recommends that you continue to love with the love that knows no bounds or conditions: the love of a mother for her child.

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Holiday Highlights! Subtitle: Christmas Loot Galore!

missjunebug's Christmas Loot!  Photo by mjb2009
missjunebug's Christmas Loot! Photo by mjb2009

missjunebug is happy to report that she got everything she wanted for Christmas…and more! A gorgeous Jennifer Miller bracelet a lá Hoda Kotb from Santa, a new pair of UGGS from TinyJB, a delightful, funny, interesting and sweet x 10 phone call with Rwandan-based Elder JB, and some funny little gadgets from Mr.JB (carabiner flashlight! extra camera battery! Chinese watercolor brushes!).

But she knows what you must be thinking. What about the nutcrackers? Did she score more? missjunebug is happy to report that Mr.JB/Santa has moved on to new Christmas decorating territory with the addition of a gold-lamé, white-furred Santa and a wine-red brocade and white lace Angel with a face, well, like an angel!

After a present-opening frenzy, the junebug family knoshed on Waffle-House style Cheesey eggs, Jimmy Dean sausage, and leftover rum cake. What a feast! Then Mr.JB headed outside to trim palm trees with his nifty new 14-foot chain-powered saw/pruner given to him by TinyJB! Wow that thing can cut up some tree! Meanwhile, TinyJB read through his new beer-making library of books (3 in all!) and missjunebug slipped into her UGGS, bagged up her loot, and began working on the evening meal (Spiral-cut ham, green bean casserole and fab pineapple stuffing).

Later in the afternoon, Mr.JB busted out his new blue-ray DVD of Quentin Tarentino’s masterpiece Inglourious Basterds, cooked up some popcorn, and gathered the junebugs to settle into the Men’s Club to watch one of the best revenge stories ever! Somehow it seemed like perfect Christmas viewing material, Jesus being a Jew and all.

After a savory Christmas dinner, Mr.JB continued reading the Uganda novel with the word eclipse in the title that ElderJB gave him for the big 6-0 while TinyJB and missjunebug duked it out over Trivial Pursuit. Sadly, missjunebug was not a winner as TinyJB edged past her with the sixth and final pie piece on a lame question: What was taken in John Godey’s novel The Taking of Pelham One Two Three? Thanks to the recent remake with John Travolta, TinyJB had no trouble coming up with “a subway train.” Puhleeze.

What a family! What a celebration! What a Christmas!

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A Few of missjunebug’s Favorite Christmasy Things

This one speaks for itself! Photo by mjb2009
This one speaks for itself! Photo by mjb2009

missjunebug hopes these images cheer you during the Holiday Season!

Go Santa Go!  Photo by mjb2009
Go Santa Go! Photo by mjb2009
Wide-eyed Santa glistens! Photo by mjb2009
Wide-eyed Santa glistens! Photo by mjb2009
One of mjb's all time favs! Photo by mjb2009
One of mjb's all time favs! Photo by mjb2009
A Sparkly Orange Orb! Photo by mjb2009
A Sparkly Orange Orb! Photo by mjb2009
A Beary Merry Christmas!  Photo by mjb2009
A Beary Merry Christmas! Photo by mjb2009

Merry Christmas! Happy Baking! Wonderful Wrapping! And Unwrapping! Delicious Eating! Thoughtful Praying! Exuberant Praising! Sincere Thanking!

Blessings to you and your family from missjunebug, Mr.JB, ElderJB, and TinyJB!

Rain! Glorious Rain!

missjunebug is delighting in the rain that has finally come to SoCal. Hoorah for rain! She can finally turn her sprinklers off! She can fully get into the holiday spirit thanks to the colder temperatures and gray skies. Is there anything better than cozying up to a fireplace listening to the sound of rain falling outside? Maybe cozying up to a fireplace listening to the sound of rain falling outside while drinking a hot toddy! Ha!

missjunebug would not say no to a hot-buttered rum right about now, but Mr.JB’s not here to share it with her so she better just get back to wrapping those Christmas presents that are piling up on every flat surface in missjunebug’s little house.

Cheers!

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When Collections Go Wrong

Nutcrackers Vying for Mantle Space!  Photo by mjb2009
Nutcrackers Vying for Mantle Space! Photo by mjb2009

It started out pretty innocently. Mr.JB began giving nutcrackers to missjunebug about 30 years ago give or take a few years. Year after year missjunebug would gleefully open up the beribboned rectangular boxes from “Santa” and delight in what she found inside.

Nutcrackers of every description: stalwart soldier, aproned baker, flouncy flamenco dancer, twig-broomed snowman, bun-coiffed teacher, golfer, skier, gold-trimmed Pharoah, London Beefeater, milk-bottle clutching dairy cow (missjunebug’s current fav), piano-playing musician, caroler, wise man, leiderhosen-clad beer drinker, betooled toymaker, and a whole army of red and white clad Santas complete with toy-filled Santa bags. missjunebug is sure you get the idea.

She’s got a crap-ton of nutcrackers!

Every year she turns on the Sounds of the Season on her cable tv and to the croony voice of Bing Crosby singing White Christmas, she shleps down to her Christmas closet and unpacks and unwraps each and every one of these nutcrackers and places them in pretty much the same locations as she did the year before, except of course she has to find space for the new ones Mr.JB gave her the previous year! It’s a little like fighting for shelf space in the cereal aisle of the supermarket! There’s a finite supply of it and these insistent nutcrackers want to be at optimal eye level. They’re a pushy bunch.

missjunebug has a feeling this collection has gone terribly wrong. It reminds her of the origin of the nutcracker fascination, that part of the Nutcracker ballet when little Clara dreams of giant nutcrackers come to life. A little creepy if you ask missjunebug! Which brings her to the question at hand: When is a collection done?

missjunebug will continue to ponder this question as she squeezes out a little more prime mantle space for the latest nutcracker model in her collection.

She can hardly wait to see what Mr.JB (aka “Santa”) has in store for her this year!

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