A new space. A big risk.

Today marks the end of my time here in this space.  I started Where is June in 2009 when my boys were really, really young!  At first it was a private blog.  A few friends received blog updates sporadically, usually when I had a particularly bad day!  My first blog post was short and easily shows my state of mind {I had wanted to call my blog A Three Martini Play Date}.  In 2011 {with this post about Kim Kardashian}, I decided to shift the focus of the blog and post regularly.  For two years my friends have been regular readers and incredibly supportive!  I love everything about the blog world.  So, I am taking a huge risk.  Do what you love, love what you do. 

Throwing caution to wind, I bought my own domain, redesigned my blog from the bottom up, and migrated all of my content {4+ years of blog posts} to my very own space.  Below is a peek at Where is June's new look.  From now on you will find all my new blog posts @ whereisjune.com!  How exciting is that? 

I am ready for great things.  My number one goal now is to build my readership.  Where is June is written for the modern girl trying to make a home and raise a family while maintaining her sanity.  Could you help me by sharing Where is June with all of your friends?  Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you have faithfully supported me and "the little blog that could"! 

Let's connect!
  1. Of course, the blog itself!  whereisjune.com Please subscribe to receive email updates with each new post. 
  2. The brand new Where is June? Facebook page.  Make sure to like this new page.  This is where I will posting links to new blog posts and other goodies each day.  
  3. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram.  {@seattlejune}. Can't get enough of me, right?
  4. Follow me on Pinterest.  How lovely to be able to collect and share inspiration.  
  5. Connect privately. denise@whereisjune.com 


A photo board

In lieu of gifts, I asked the guests at my husband's birthday party to bring along a photo of him {Recent, vintage, group or otherwise}.  The results of this request were one of the highlights of the evening.  My talented friend, Jen, made a gorgeous board for me.  Painted with chalkboard paint, guests were able to write the year the photo was taken.   I had simple roles of washi tape on hand to tape the photos onto the board.  New friends were able to see pictures from Aaron's childhood and long time friends were able to share their favorite snapshots.  Everything from current day shots with our boys to prom photos, team pictures, a classic school photo, and the {now} infamous ski photo I used for the invitation. 

It turned out even better than I hoped it would.  He has snap shots with all the people he loves in one place.  Now we need to find a place for it in his office. 


A street food party

This was the year of parking a large truck in front of our house and calling it a party!  For Aaron's 40th birthday, we hired a food truck to feed us for 2 hours.  The prep for this party was dreamy.  I simply filled some beverage dispensers with lemonade, threw ice and beer in galvanized tubs, and put my make-up on.  All the food was left in the hands of Contigo Mondern Mexican.

 {the evening's menu}

We served the Gorditas on trays in the back yard as appetizers.  They were small pockets of yummy [fried] goodness.  For dinner, each guest was able to order four tacos of their choice.  Many mixed and matched to sample them all. 

I loved how our guests mingled in the driveway when waiting for their tacos.  There were ongoing discussions regrading which taco was the favorite.  I am not sure there was a consensus, but my personal favorite was the Beef Picadillo.  The onion jam made this taco sweet and spicy.

To end our meal, we served churros.  Who doesn't love a churro?  In my opinion, there is nothing better than fried crispy dough coated with cinnamon sugar.  I may have had more than one [and possibly one heated up the next morning for breakfast].

Contigo also brought along Habenero Lemonade.  It was curiously hot, sweet and spicy all at the same time.  There was vodka and tequila to mix in, as well as regular lemonade.  A signature cocktail that was simple and easy to serve. 

The meal, from start to finish, was divine!  The Contigo staff served delicious food and were breeze to work with.  I would highly recommend hiring a food truck for a special occasion.  As the hostess, you have absolutely no stress regarding the meal and your guests will love it.

[If you live in the Seattle area, I used Seattle Food Truck to find Contigo.  It was an amazing resource to find a truck to cater your event.  Plus, it lists all of the food trucks in the area and where they are serving up food during the week.] 


A press-on tatoo

For my husband's 40th birthday party, I decided to have a little fun with a press-on tattoo.  I ordered temporary ink to wear the night of his party.  Easily applied with a wet wash cloth {just like the tattoos you put on little kids}, it was a fun way to celebrate his big day.  Aaron was completely surprised and not-so-secretly loved it!  That makes me smile. 

It is a great gift for your significant other on his or her birthday or your anniversary.  Also, wouldn't it be so sweet for a bride and groom to wear one on their wedding day that only their new spouse will see?


Gum wall

A recent trip to the Pike Place Market marked our first visit to Seattle's Gum Wall.  It is located in Post Alley under Pike Place Market.  [Find Rachel the Pig and go down a short flight of stairs.  Turn right at the bottom and you are there.] 

Visually, it is striking.  Colorful and textured.   Standing back from it you almost forget it is chewed gum.  Almost.  The boys couldn't visit without leaving their mark.  Will jumped right in and stretched his gum long and left it dangling from a pipe.  Little Man was apprehensive, but eventually went for it.  He really wanted to shape his gum into the letter H because he had noticed that some visitors had spelled out their name or messages and left them on the wall.  When it proved to be a tedious job he just stuck his next to his big brother's.  I delicately stuck my piece to a very small empty space on the wall. 

Being a tourist in your own city is a great way to spend a summer's day.


Birthday boys.

June 21st is a REALLY big day in our house.  Two birthdays on the very same day.  In 2004 we spent the entire day in a birthing suite waiting for Will's arrival.  Over planning has always being one of my strengths, so I had birthday gifts wrapped and ready for Aaron in the back of my car.  I sent him down to the parking garage to fetch them as soon as the epidural was in full effect.  [The nurses thought I was Wife of the Year!]  Presents were important because Aaron wasn't too sure about sharing his big day, but I knew how great it would be.  You see, I share a birthday with my dad. [Amazing coincidence, right?]  It was great to celebrate together and I wouldn't think of having it any other way.  Aaron now feels the same way.

Since Will's first birthday, we have hosted large family celebrations!  Cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and a few friends made for great backyard barbeques. 

With a milestone birthday this year for Aaron, there are multiple celebrations.  [I promise to fill you in on the details from his 40th birthday party very soon! ]  Will already partied with his friends and it was pretty much the best party for nine year old boys.  Why not pull up an RV loaded with video games and screens and throw sixteen kids in there for 90 minutes?  Best. Party. Ever.

All my love to my birthday boys! 


Baked [bite size] brie

We invited the parents of Big W's friends to enjoy a glass of wine and a few nibbles at the end of his birthday party.  It was a wonderful way to kick off summer!  I wanted one warm appetizer, amongst the olives, vegetables and hummus.  These little bite size baked brie were perfectly salty and sweet.   There were a handful of boys that grabbed one too! 

Easy ingredients:
2 sheets frozen puff pastry sheets
Brie cheese
Preserves of your choosing.  [I used a fig spread.]
1 egg to be used for an egg wash.  

Cut each pastry sheet into 24 small rectangles.  Whisk together one egg and a splash of milk.  Brush the egg wash on 12 of the small rectangles and place a small slice of brie and a dollop of preserves on each one.

Top each one with remaining squares.  Press down edges of pastry with the tines of a fork.  Also, prick the top.  Place on parchment paper.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. 

You could easily make these ahead of time and pop them in the oven just minutes before your guests arrive.  It is hard to resist the delicious goodness of anything made with puff pastry.  Enjoy!

You may have missed:
A great summer pizza made with fig spread, goat cheese, peaches and arugula. 

{Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker}


Keeping summer minds active

Let them run, get dirty, stay up late, sleep in, eat s'mores, and just be kids! Summer is pretty fantastic in so many ways!  However, doing work that looks like school can be a total drag.  I am taking a new approach this summer.  I am throwing out the workbooks [actually I just didn't buy them] and being more creative.  I thought I would share my new approach with you.

Here are few [fun] summer learning ideas to keep their minds active:

//Board Games//
Scrabble- Builds spelling, creativity & strategy, math skills. 
Rummikube-  Builds problem solving and math skills
Apples to Apples - Excellent game to build vocabulary and practice reading. 
Balderdash - Players must use language creatively to create a definition of an unknown word. 

Books on CD- My oldest loves to listen to novels on CD. He enjoys the narrators. Look for them at your local library for check out.  It is a great way to spend a lazy afternoon. [Picture books are also available with CD recordings!]

TumbleBooks - eBooks online.  We have access to TumbleBooks through our county library system.  Ask if your library has TumbleBooks or something similar.

Read a book/Watch the movie - Don't you love to read a book and then see the movie?  So do kids!  The possibilities are endless.  Hoot was the last book/movie combo Big W completed. 

Roll coins old school style.  Grab some paper wrappers from the bank, give your kids your spare change jar, and get counting.  Perfect for skip counting practice and coin recognition.  Who needs Coinstar?  We've got kids!

Cool Math games  An amazing assortment of math games.  Little Man would play for hours if I let him!

Bake from scratch.  On a cool day [or any day of you have A/C], bake something from scratch.  Recipes reinforce following directions and the understanding of fractions. 

All about Me- A wonderful keepsake!  Kids fill in the pages all about themselves!

Send postcards. - Sadly, many kids don't have many opportunities to send mail.  Don't wait to go on vacation.  Find a few postcards at the local drugstore, write a quick message and address it.  Great practice for writing addresses in the correct form.

Start a Blogger blog. - Yes!  Kids can have blogs too.  They are easy to set up and free.  Any topic can work for a blog as long is the writer is passionate about the subject.  My kids write about their summer adventures.

Story Stones - Stones with images help kids tell or write a story.  You could make your own or purchase these incredibly cute hand painted stones.  [I think they would be a great gift!]

Ed Emberly - These learn to draw books are perfect for kids [and grown ups].  They are so easy to follow and kids feel successful right away.

Creative Haven Coloring Book- These graphically beautiful coloring books are amazing for older kids.  Believe me, they still love to color.

Doodle Books  - Ever heard, "I don't know what to draw?"  The doodle books help kids get their pictures started with a few lines already on the page and a prompt on how to finish the drawing.  Hours of fun!

Create a photo book - Let your kids take pictures throughout the summer and help them make a keepsake photo book. 

LEGOS- This link is to a blog that presents 52 LEGO challenges. It includes challenges to build a bridge, a playground, and a flag.

//iPad Apps//
Where's My Water? 
Where's My Perry?    
Stack the States
Word Bingo  

{image via  }


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

It is a birthday week around here!  My husband and oldest son share a birthday [yes, the exact same day!], so we spread the celebrations out.  Big W request a simply yellow cake with vanilla frosting for his party with his friends.  I vowed, after making a chocolate cake from scratch, never to do it again!  Why go through all that trouble when there is a perfectly good mix in a box? Instead, I would spend extra time on homemade frosting and the decorating. 

I realized quickly into the decorating process that replicating this cake was going to be harder than I thought.  A LOT, harder in fact!  Knowing that nine and ten year old boys weren't even going to notice a perfectly designed cake, I made a quick adjustment and just frosted it simply.

While it wasn't the most beautiful creation, the frosting itself was divine!  I kid you not!  If you are making a cake or cupcakes in the near future, you must give it a try.  This recipe from Magnolia Bakery is worth the splurge in calories.  It is easy to make with four simple ingredients.  It will not disappoint! 

Vanilla Buttercream Frosting [recipe from Magnolia Bakery]
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, 4 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 to 5 minutes. Gradually add remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating for about 2 minutes after each addition, until icing reaches desired consistency; you may not need to add all the sugar. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.


to celebrate a father.

My boys are the lucky ones.  They have a dad who loves them unconditionally.  It's that simple.  A man in their corner.  A coach in the dug out.  An instructor on the slopes.  A fan in the audience.  An amazing role model with a loving heart.  They may not realize it now, but one day........

What are your Father's Day plans?

My husband asked for help cleaning his office.  We can do that!  I do have a few other tricks up my sleeve.  And of course, he chooses the menu.  His favorite chips n' fish and salted brown butter rice crispie treats will be served Sunday evening.  I am hoping I can convince him to head to the Farmer's Market if I surprise him with Swedish Pancakes in the morning.  I am looking forward to a fabulous weekend!


a first day. a last day.

[first day.  Fall 2010]

This little guy had squeezable cheeks, no glasses and awesome style! [I truly loved it when I got to dress my guys.  I made sure they looked hip, but I digress.]  He was eager to be at school like his big brother and ready to make some of his own friends. 

[end of year party. June '13]

This little man finishes Kindergarten today and is officially a big kid in my eyes.  Finally, the last day!  He complained each day, including every day this week, about school.  Too long [6 1/2 hours] and too much work [40 pages of work sometimes!].  He may exaggerate just a bit, but he never wavered on his feelings toward school.  He is nothing but consistent.  In spite of himself, he grew leaps and bounds this year.  He even learned to read, but chooses to hide it.  We call him "the super secret reader".  He is such an amazing kid in so many ways, but school isn't his thing.  It may never be.  I find that sad and disheartening and so desperately want to change his mind.

I was once asked to give one of my dearest friends advice at her baby shower.  I advised, "Love her for who she is, not who you thought she would be."  I have decided to follow my own advice.   Hank is set in his ways, emotional, and quick tempered.  Not always easy to manage, but witty and funny.  I love to be around him and will defend him to the end of my days.  I often go in his room at night and watch him sleep.  He is content, safe, and still so, so little. I can't change who he is, so I will try and help him become the best version of himself. 

Parenting.  Firsts, lasts, and everything in between.  It is quite the ride and never know what to expect.  Here's to the next first!


A hand written thank you

I am taking a moment to write thank you notes for my boys' teachers.  I know that many parents, usually moms, freak out about what to give a teacher at the end of the year.  Some spending hours and hours on craft projects and keepsakes.  From my 10 years as an elementary school teacher, the hand written notes are actually the gifts I treasure the most.  Each of them include heartfelt words that express gratitude and explain the ways in which I touched their child's life.  These are things you don't hear everyday in the classroom.  Many times I had no idea the impact I had on children and their families.  It was touching to read their kind words at the end of a long school year.   I have many tucked away for safe keeping.  I make a point every year to write a note and personally hand it to my sons' teachers.   [I usually tuck a gift card inside because one person can only have so many coffee mugs.]

If your child's school year has not yet ended, take a minute and thank a teacher in your own way.  Believe me, a card can be enough.

I found this adorable thank you card at my local bookstore.  I loved the anchor as ode to summer. 
The Brush & Mallett has creative hand drawn greeting cards [made here in Seattle] for every occasion.  Check out their website or their Etsy store.


recently inspired by....

recently inspired by..
1.  Scenes from the Amalfi Coast of Italy spark excitement for trip we are planning next year.  This girl is finally going to make it to my grandfathers' homeland.

2.  I swoon for this gold foil phone case.  If only I had an iPhone 5.  Time for an upgrade?

3.  School is out for summer in three days!  That will mark the official start to patio lounging.  These outdoor poufs are the perfect new addition to our backyard.  Great for extra seating or putting your feet up. 

4.  My husband turns 40 next week and this Fujifilm Instax Instant Film Camera will be a fantastic way to capture the fun at his party, without the high cost of a photo booth. 

5. These American Flag Aviators are perfection at least one day of the year.  At $14.00 you can rock them on The 4th of July and then put them away for 365 days without feeling guilty. 

6.  Don't Quit Your Day Dream.  I love this and I am adopting it as my new mantra.  I will be launching a brand new Where is June? I am anxious, nervous, excited and hopeful.

You can find inspiration just about anywhere. How lovely to be able to collect and share!
Follow me on Pinterest



Back yard fire pits and campfires call out for roasted marshmallows and s'mores.  The one thing I have never liked about the classic s'more [graham cracker, Hershey bar square, and marshmallow] is that the chocolate doesn't melt fully and it makes it difficult to eat.  This weekend we tried out a new spin on the s'more.  Instead of the traditional graham cracker, we used Keebler's Fudge Stripe Cookies.  There is already a layer of chocolate, so all you need is the roasted marshmallow.  The chocolate layer melts quickly, which makes it extra gooey.  To say they were a huge hit would be an understatement.  They were devoured by kids and adults alike.  So, it got me to thinking.  Any cookie with a layer of chocolate would make a delicious alternative s'more.

[keebler's fudge stripe cookie s'more]

[milano slices sweet toffee cookie s'more]

The Milano cookie has sweet toffee pieces in with the chocolate!  They also have a Milano cookie with salty pretzel pieces.  Oh my, the possibilities are endless.

Any other ideas for a spin on the classic s'more?   I'd love to hear them!  
Happy Roasting.


Keeping the fun it.

Yes, that is an orange that Big W is about to hit.  The big guy had a playoff game this week.  The boys were treated to some fun during batting practice prior to the game.  Why not smash the skin off an orange to get you pumped up for a big game?  This entertaining departure from regular warm ups made me [and the boys] very happy.

The boys were elated for the obvious reasons.  I, on the other hand, loved that our coaches were keeping the kids focused on what is truly important when you are playing baseball [or any sport for that matter] at the age of 8 or 9.  They were focused on fun.  Our boys were talking about orange juice spraying in their face and wiping their bats with baby wipes when they entered the dugout.  [Exactly what second and third graders should be doing!]

My hope is that my boys continue to play for coaches that keep a great perspective and teach them well.  Coaches that teach them hard work pays off and consistent practice will lead to improvement.  Coaches that teach them tenacity and resiliency, in sports and in life, make you a stronger human being.  Coaches that teach that the greatest athletes are also great teammates.  I want them to learn that winning is fantastic and losing pretty much sucks. 

But in the end, I just want them to love playing and I want them to have coaches that keep the fun in it!


Summer Workout Essentials

Summer Workout Essentials
Beat the heat!  
Just a few essential items for working out in the sun and heat:
1// A lightweight sports bra with skinny straps and breathable fabric.  Plus a pop of neon.
2// Anti-chafing stick.  Goes on easy and isn't greasy. [Didn't let me down when running 26.2 miles.]
3// A sports performance SPF.  Won't sweat off mid-workout. 
4// Visor that wicks moisture away from your forehead.  Brilliant!
5//  Glass water bottles with silicon sleeves in candy colors.  [I love my bkr!]  Hydrate in style.




Ok.  This just makes me smile!  Teasers can tease and haters can hate, but Joanna Rohrback might just be on to something.  Body by Prancercise, damn the girl looks good!  If you see me prancing, join in. 

drink the water.

I have just started a two week intensive boot camp.  It includes giving up caffeine, alcohol, dairy, sugar, and no refined white flour or white rice.  It sounds torturous, and at times it feels like it, but it is an amazing group of women.  Over 30 of us committed to health and supporting one another. There will be a lot of sweat, some grunting, a ton of laughing [and hopefully no puking!]

It means adding tons of veggies, healthy fats, balanced portions, and glasses and glasses of water. Our trainer suggests consuming half your body weight in ounces.   I will admit it-I am the worst about drinking water.  This will be one of my greatest challenges in the days to come.  To stay the course, I am going to have to jazz my water up!  Mixed fruit with ice may just do the trick.  Lemons with raspberries or oranges with blueberries sound delicious and interesting. Plus, I am a sucker for mason jars and paper straws.

How much water do you drink a day?  Are you a purest or do you jazz it up?

{Image via back on pointe}


dont's for husbands: vanity

My Dear Sir,
You are neither as bad nor as good a fellow as you imagine yourself to be.

1. General Habits

Don't be conceited about your good looks.  It is more than probable that no one but yourself is aware of them; anyway, you are not responsible for them, and vanity in a man is ridiculous.  

Blanche Ebbutt.  1913
{Image via Forgotten Antiquities}

Salt Spring Island: more favorites and travel tips.

I am so happy to be able to share the rest of our favorites from our trip to Salt Spring Island and our travel tips. [Read my first post here.]

1.  The food!
We ate WAY too much on this trip and enjoyed every minute it.  As you may know, my husband has Celiac Disease and eats gluten free.  And this island was a gluten free haven.  Every restaurant we ate at offered gluten free options, including gluten free breads, beer, pizza crusts, and buns.  Most importantly, the food was amazingly fresh.  Farms are abundant on the island and the cuisine is truly farm to table.
Our favorites:
The Treehouse Cafe- Delicious breakfast.  They even had gluten free french toast on the menu.  I am sure lunch or dinner would be just as great!  The cafe is built around a tree and is open air.  Heaters at your feet and blankets keep you warm if there is a chill.  My kids loved this place.  [more on why in a bit.] 

Burger Bar 537-  Seriously one of the BEST burger I have ever had.  Gluten free buns and beer for my man!

The Harbour House -  The freshest meals are prepared using much of the bounty from the 15-acre farm that sits behind the hotel/restaurant. 

2. The Elves
A small door at the front of The Treehouse Cafe made this trip for the boys.  Elves live on the island. There were pictures, in the treasure box, of small doors at the base of trees all over the island.  Little Man spent a great deal of time searching for a door on our hikes!  If you leave a note-they will send a reply.  My kids were eager to write the elves questions and anxiously await their response.

3. Tsawaout First Nation Reserve
A hidden gem!!  A waitress gave us the lead on this amazing place.  At the very end of Bridgman Road [on the way to Ruckle park], you find a simple marker and a narrow trail.  It was the most beautiful place we visited.  We did not see a single person on our hike and had the entire beach to ourselves!  Simply breathtaking.

You may not go this summer or this year, but I highly suggest you put Salt Spring Island on your "must visit" list.  I was not disappointed.

Travel Tips if traveling to Salt Spring Island:

Getting there:  BC Ferries
Crossing times vary depending on which ferry you catch.   The crossing is beautiful, with amazing scenery and lovely views.

Stay:  We stayed at Harbour House Hotel.  It was not fancy, but it was very clean and the staff was incredibly friendly.  You can visit the farm and the restaurant was amazing.  Located in Ganges-the heart of the island.
Other lodging choices:
Hasting House Hotel 
a Bed and Breakfast [so many to choose from]
Vacation rentals

Salt Spring Island restaurants via TripAdvisor

Other resources:
Things to do in Salt Spring Island via TripAdvisor
Salt Spring Chamber of Commerce
Salt Spring Market


Salt Spring Island

My family packed it up and headed north to Canada over Memorial Day weekend.  Our destination was Salt Spring Island, part of Canada's Southern Gulf Islands.  The island has been featured in Sunset Magazine [ here , here and here].  It has been on my "must visit" list for quite some time.  We actually planned our trip last minute and I am so happy we did.  It was the perfect place for our little family.  Our trip was remarkable.

[a sunny ferry ride]

Here are our highlights and must-sees for Salt Spring Island:

1.  Salt Spring Island's Saturday Market
Each Saturday, from Easter weekend (or first Saturday in April) through the last Saturday
in October. From about 8:30am - 4pm, rain or shine.  More than 140 artisans and food producers gather in Centennial Park in the heart of Ganges.

[Big W was drawn to the booth with rocks from all over the world.]

An amazing park with easy trails, beaches and breathtaking views!  [We actually didn't spend enough time here.]

3.  Taking in the views and the amazing open space. 
[Ganges Harbor, Little Man at Ruckle Park, the boys watching sea planes take off one after another]

The road is narrow and bumpy, but this was chosen as the favorite outdoor activity by all three Thomas boys.  It was pretty spectacular and well worth the drive.  The morning we visited was especially misty.  It blocked the spectacular view, but made the forest seem magical!

There are on-your-honor farm stands all over the island.  Usually at the end of a long drive way, we saw stands offering baked goods, eggs, flowers, preserves, and coffee.  Our favorite was the farm stand at the 15-acre farm run by the Harbour House Hotel. 
[we went for the baked goods.]

Harlan's is an old school candy shop with homemade chocolate and caramels, penny candy, Gelato, and ridiculously large lollipops.

[I enjoyed pink grapefruit gelato and Big W dove into the lollipop.]

There is just so much, so tomorrow I will share the rest of our Salt Spring Island highlights and my tips on where to stay and how to get there. 
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