Monday, December 15, 2014

Warp Speed with the Top Down

As we slowly crept along the road that wound its way toward the Festival of Lights gate, I set up my camera to take pictures at night in a situation where lights are present. Yes, my camera offers such a scene setting. 
Tanglewood Festival of Lights | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The Entrance to the Festival of Lights

With the top down on our friends' convertible, four of us snuggled under blankets, pulled on our hats and gloves, and settled in for the show. Then I took off my gloves so I could work the camera I set up to take nighttime light pictures.
North Pole Gates | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
It only took a little over an hour to
reach the main gates. But the displays
along the way--before we ever paid to
get in--made the wait entertaining.

The setting works best with a tripod. It is a long-exposure setting. And while it has the capacity to take great pictures, when the photographer moves or the convertible carrying the photographer slowly creeps forward, the pictures come out oddly and frustratingly blurred. Some looked as if we were driving at warp speed. The convertible does have a turbo feature, but I assure you, despite some of these images, we barely stirred up a breeze at a steady three to five miles per hour.
Warp Speed | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
We hit warp speed at 3 m.p.h.

The displays that used multiple sets of lights lit one after another to depict a deer jumping over your car, a penguin sliding down a roof, or a bird flying overhead, posed another exposure problem. We could only see one lit up at a time, giving the appearance of movement. But the images on my camera showed nearly all the pieces as if they were lit at the same time. It would have been great to get videos of those displays, but using the video feature of my camera drains my battery. 
Magical Dimensions | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
According to my camera,
it was like traveling into a magical,
brilliantly lit and joyous dimension.

With or without picture-taking, driving through the Festival of Lights with the top down was the best way to enjoy the adventure. Between elaborate light structures, we looked up to gaze at a million stars in the sky. And as we drove through and around the dancing lights, we enjoyed the full effect of the LED offerings. 
Jumping Deer | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
his display appeared as one deer jumping
over the cars as they passed by.

Add Christmas music and, after a stop at the red barn, some hot apple cider, and you have a spectacular evening that is sure to conjure lots of holiday spirit. 

Just be sure you dress in lots of layers with warm pants, sweaters, socks, coats, hats, gloves, and scarves. And be sure to wave and yell, "Merry Christmas!" to other Festival of Lights goers hanging out of car windows, standing through sunroofs, and sitting in truck beds.
Whimsical Castle | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
A candy castle of whimsical fun.

But if you take pictures, do not expect them to come out nearly as beautiful as what you see while slowly meandering through the park. Better yet, forego the photography, sit back, and enjoy the show. At only $15 per non-commercial carload, the Festival of Lights is an inexpensive outing that is loads of fun for children of every age, from 1 to 101!
Happy Holidays | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The Festival of Lights certainly added to the
happy in our holidays.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Christmas Spirit for Free

Christmas Spirit is not something that can be purchased, despite elaborate commercials that depict otherwise. The joys, happiness, goodwill, and comforts of the season are available to everyone, regardless of resources. With everyone rushing about to this door-busting special and that holiday soiree, finding and embracing the Spirit of Christmas can be a challenge. Here are a few ways to conjure Father Christmas into your hearts this season without spending a dime.
A Christmas Carol cast | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
RSVP cast for the staged
reading of Jim Langer's
adaptation of Charles Dickens'
"A Christmas Carol"

1. In our town, we have a community theatre group that stages a reading of a local adaptation of "A Christmas Carol." The event is free. I've been working on my received British pronunciation, as I am serving as this year's production's narrator. Many communities have free events such as this. Find out what is available in your town or city and take advantage of it.
Take It A Step Further: Audition for such a production or volunteer to help out behind the scenes.

2. Bundle up warmly and take a brisk winter walk around your neighborhood after supper. Not only will it aid in digestion, but you can enjoy your neighbor's brightly lit holiday decorations. You will notice much more on foot than if you drove around in your car.
Take It A Step Further: Send your neighbors a note to let them know how much you enjoyed their displays.
Christmas Movies | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Many holiday classics air over and over
on television throughout the season.

3. Make hors d'oeuvres out of leftovers in the fridge and then watch a favorite holiday movie--a DVD you already own or one of the many movies various stations air during the holiday season. 
Take It A Step Further: Invite neighbors, nearby relatives, or a few friends to watch the movie with you and have them bring repurposed leftovers, too.

4. Participate in a Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes event. Red Cross offices across the country hold events to create holiday greetings for our armed forces and their families. 
Take It One Step Further: Volunteer to help your local Red Cross chapter hold events, sort cards, and coordinate delivery to our service men and women and military families. 

5. Spend some time with older folks in the community who may live alone. Visit their home or visit a local assisted living community. Share stories about holiday traditions, fun recipes, and favorite songs of the season. 
Take It One Step Further: Volunteer to visit on a regular basis throughout the year.  

One last thing: Congratulations to our friend Matt Hanson and his Northwood High School choral students for winning a local singing contest and a $5000 award for their school. Their YouTube video is sure brighten your holidays! 
Take It A Step Further: Share this video and brighten a friend's day, too!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Garlic & Spices of the Holidays

Tomatoes make marinara hearty and healthy. Simmering them down all day with garlic and spices, filling the house with a delectable aroma is what makes the marinara something loved ones are willing to travel hundreds of miles to enjoy again. 

Traditions are the garlic and spices of the holidays. We all have our holiday traditions, some are carried forward from childhood and some are born anew out of creativity, ingenuity, or necessity. Regardless of the history or longevity of our individual traditions, they are what make us nostalgic for the holidays, home, family, and friends. Here are five of our traditions. If you are in need of a new tradition, feel free to borrow any that appeal to you.

Candy Canes on the Tree | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
I began hanging candy canes on our Christmas tree when our boys
were little. Everyone in the household and all friends, neighbors, and family
who visit our home throughout the season are allowed to indulge in the 

candy canes. I keep a couple of boxes on hand to replenish the tree as needed.

Advent Calendar | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My mom used to get our boys an Advent calendar. Back then,
they did not have chocolate surprises behind each date. The year
I bought chocolate filled Advent calendars for the younger
nieces and nephews in the family was the year we had to bring this
tradition back into our household. Turns out, 17-year-olds don't
mind counting down to Christmas if chocolate is involved.

Holiday Vision | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
One year we spent Thanksgiving at the beach. That's the year
I found these cool Christmas lightbulb viewing glasses. They're
like 3D glasses, only they turn the little lights on the tree or
hanging in the windows into candy canes, snowmen, or other fun shapes.
They were so much fun the first year that we have to put them out every year now.

Candy-filled Snow House | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The ceramic snow house was Mom's. She used to put it out every year
when she decorated for Christmas. When they "downsized" after we all had
families of our own, she asked if I wanted it. "Of course!" was my reply.
Hubby and I have been filling it with candy ever since. Like the candy canes,
the snow house candy is for anyone who wants to sweeten their day. And
like the candy canes, I keep extra to replenish the snow house as needed.

Stockings Hung By The Fire | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Most folks indulge in this tradition. However, unlike other parents do
when their children outgrow the tradition, we kept it going. Our boys, one of
their very close friends, whom we also consider one of our boys, and Grams
all have stockings that are still filled by Santa. Someday, our children-in-law and
grandchildren will also have stockings, because Santa never misses our house!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare