Tag Archives: POPular CULTure

Stitch Fix: Could be Fab!

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

Mosaic stitch
Mosaic stitch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glitch City @ missjunebug.com

Glitch logo
Glitch logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

Philosophy for the Uninitiated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on the New Year

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

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

missjunebug’s Minimalist Resolutions for 2015: missjunebug resolves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

missjunebug’s HO! HO! HO! Hacks

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

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 1

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

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

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 2

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

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

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 3

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

Ribbon x 3!
Ribbon x 3!

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 4

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

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

HO! HO! HO! Hack No. 5

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

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

Copy that!
Copy that! 

The Assets: An Altogether Admirable Airing on Netflix

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mjbTip: Skip the sharks!

 

missjunebug’s Smoothie Adventure Begins!

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

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

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

Here’s a simple recipe to try:

missjunebug’s Homemade Coconut Milk

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

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

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

missjunebug’s Completely Unoriginal Very Berry Smoothie

2 cups of Baby Romaine

1/2  carrot

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

3-4 ice cubes

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

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

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

Is Bend Beer Really Better?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mini-Series Netflix-Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

missjunebug’s Latest Love: Bottega Louie

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

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

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

Just take a look:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Daniel Caudill Knows Scheiße from Shinola

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yo: A Revolutionary Devolutionary App!

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

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

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

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

Can missjunebug hear a What What?

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

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

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

Keep your sweetie from feeling neglected? Yo. Yo.

It’s all about the Yo.

Anticipating Travel Yields Happiness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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One Acre Fund + AmazonSmile = Easy Peasy Donation!

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

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

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

SUPPORT ONE ACRE FUND WHILE SHOPPING AT AMAZON.COM

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

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

Woo to the hoo x 10!

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

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Garance Doré: missjunebug’s New Crush

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

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

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

What fun!

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

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

mjbTip: Check out Garance Doré’s inspiring insights!

 

 

 

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Learning a Second Language? Try these!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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The Quantified missjunebug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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SPY Time!

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

Minox
Minox (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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missjunebug turns a New Page: Wisdom Words

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

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

Wisdom Words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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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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Welcoming Distractions

Various scalpels
Various scalpels (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indulgent distractions. No guilt.

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

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Four-Hour Body: Easiest Eating Plan Ever!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 


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Matthew McConaughey: Your Name is Mud

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Pacific Crepes: A Little Bit of France in Santa Barbara

Crepes
Crepes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

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

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

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

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Mother’s Day missjunebug Style

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

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

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

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

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

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

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missjunebug Recommends…

Bread perfected: The croissant! Photo by mjb2013

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

So here goes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Creating Creativity

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

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

What are some of those transitional times?

Walks from here to there

Showers to prepare you for the rest of your day

Relaxing baths

A quick run or a leisurely jog

Waking

Falling asleep

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

Other creativity creators?

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

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

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

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

mjbTip: Relax into your creativity!

 

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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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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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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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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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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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Cow Cookies! missjunebug Loves These!

The other day missjunebug had a few pieces of art work to pick up from her fave framer in Ventura: Gonzalez Framing. They’re located on 4160 Market St. #4 Ventura, CA 93003 (805) 477-0749. She’s had many, many pieces framed here and has never been disappointed in their work. They are perfectionists, and they use the best materials to protect and to enhance special art pieces.

Here’s one she recently had framed. Won’t it look great in her newly painted kitchen? Oh. my. yes.

What a great framing job for missjunebug's chickens! Thanks Gonzalez Framing!

So what does this have to do with Cow Cookies? Well, right after missjunebug picked up her awesomely framed art works, she realized it was time for a little lunch. Right around the corner (practically) from Gonzalez Framing is Royal Bakery & Cafe. This little gem of a lunch spot is located at 4726 Telephone Rd. Ventura, CA 93003 (805) 658-6030. They have a wonderful menu including soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches, pizza, desserts, and coffee. What more could you ask for on a cafe menu? missjunebug had the divine Tuna Pesto Melt on French bread. Such a delicious mix of tuna, red onion, celery, and pesto, topped with melted cheddar and toasted to perfection. She suspects all the menu items are equally delightful to the taste buds.

Which does finally bring her to the Cow Cookies. These big and tender iced gems are shaped like dairy cows each marked with its own pattern of cow spots. Cute! Clever! Fun! and Delicious! She took six of them home with her in a congenial little box.

Check out two of her Cow Cookies and then check out Royal Bakery & Cafe a.s.a.p. You won’t be sorry. Especially if you rustle up some Cow Cookies to take home with you!

Cow Cookies Rule! Photo by mjb2012
Each Cow Cookie has its own unique design! Photo by mjb2012

 

A nifty box for Cow Cookie transport! Photo by mjb2012
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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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