Thursday, September 20, 2012

Emotional Turmoil of Losing Favorite Earrings

Not long ago, Hubby and I attended a fundraiser. The event gave us a great excuse to dress up and spend time with lots of friends. We enjoyed browsing through all the silent auction items as this friend and that pulled us here and there to show us their favorite pieces and ask for input on how high they should bid. We enjoyed the appetizers, dinner and desserts. We cheered on the high-stakes bidders during the live auction. 

But the very best part of the entire evening happened after the fundraising ended. As the crowd waned, the band warmed up. Before long, the makeshift parking lot dance floor was packed with people laughing, spinning, shaking, dipping, twisting, turning, and otherwise dancing the night away. 

After hours of dancing and singing to our favorite 80s tunes as interpreted by a very talented live band, we headed home. As I was settling in, I reached up with my right hand and felt an empty earlobe. Instinctively, I grabbed my left earring. It was still hanging from my left ear. I slipped it off and then checked my naked right ear again, as if the long, dangling piece of costume jewelry would suddenly be there; as if I could have missed it the first time. 
Must have lost the mate
to this one on the spin & dip. 

The earrings were favorites in my collection. Hubby brought them home one night with Chinese take-out—a romantic surprise. My first reaction was disappointment, followed by a pang of sadness sprinkled with guilt. 

My Golf Swing: Not
strong enough to
drive 100 yards, but
hard enough to lose
an earring.
Frustration took over as I recalled losing another favorite earring just a couple of months prior. That earring was lost at a golf tournament fundraiser. That earring was another favorite. It was from a pair I purchased during a wine tour event. I have tons of earrings for which I have no sentimental attachment. Why, then, was I now making a habit of losing one each of my favorite pairs of earrings?

From disappointment to sadness to guilt to frustration, I finally settled on pride. Ultimately, I lost my earrings as a result of enjoying life and staying active. When it comes down to it, had I not been enthusiastically playing golf or dancing with friends at community fundraisers, I would still have my earrings. Since I wouldn’t trade participation in those events for anything, I’m actually proud to have traded an earring here and there for the experiences.

Thinking back, I’m actually also glad I lost sentimental earrings as opposed to plain meaningless ones. By losing the ones I loved, I’ve imprinted the events during which I lost them—and had amazingly great times—that much deeper into my memory. I can never remember where my keys were placed or what I was supposed to pick up at the grocery store, but I will never forget the great times I’ve shared with my friends and our community.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at)
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

WINE WHINERS: Taste of Carolina Wine Festival

Before we get started whining about wine affairs, I’d like to introduce you to Michelle, my partner in crime when it comes to attending and creatively criticizing tastings, festivals, and other wine-related events. Michelle and I live in the same town and were brought together in friendship through a shared appreciation for winding down with a glass of wine on the deck of one of our now-favorite venues, Lumina Wine and Beer. We found that we have a lot in common, from a love for cooking to our favorite decade—the 80s, of course—to divorces to remarriage to our amazing husbands who are not the genetic-fathers of our children, but the guys who unselfishly dedicated their lives to raising them. We also have a ton of great friends in common.  

Michelle and I have now twice happened upon free tickets to wine festival events. The first event took us to north-central North Carolina. After 20 minutes, we realized there were better ways to spend our weekend and decided to leave—an easy thing to rationalize when the tickets are free. We ended up in Virginia at another, much better, winery festival.

More recently, our good friends Sherry and Dave Johnson, owners of Asheboro Magazine, offered us VIP tickets to the 10th Annual Taste Carolina Wine Festival held at the Piedmont Triad Farmers Market. They were too busy working on the magazine to attend, so Michelle and I were off to the wine festival.

10th Annual Taste Carolina Wine Festival
Taste Carolina Wine
Festival was a good
event, but we think it
could be much, much

The Taste Carolina Wine Festival was presented by the Greensboro Jaycees, the Wyndham Championship, Coca~Cola, Yes Weekly, and Sarah Catherine Designs. Both Michelle and I have the deepest respect for all of the event sponsors, as well as the participating wineries and other vendors. A lot of work went into this well-received annual event. It was also clear that the festival does a lot for the burgeoning winery industry in North Carolina. That said, we were not compelled to stay too long. We made it past 20 minutes, but we did not linger. Michelle and I do have some points of honest feedback we feel will make the event much better in the future for all involved. Should such improvements be made, future Taste Carolina events are sure to keep our attention for more than an hour or so.

As VIP ticket holders, we should have been able to enter the gates quickly, rather than endure 20 minutes standing in line and another 10 trying to get our VIP perks. Groupon purchasers had easier access than VIP ticket-holders. We recommend arming the volunteers selling and taking tickets with a list of instructions. That way, Michelle wouldn’t have had to retrieve our wine-glass-holder lanyards from the information booth while desperately asking questions in an attempt to figure out the event.

It might be helpful to understand that at this point, we were sweaty from the hike from the gravel overflow parking lot—VIP parking would be a great addition to this event—as well as the 30-minute ordeal to get through the gate, and a generous helping of sunny, warm weather beating down on our already peri-menopausal systems. To say we were getting frustrated would be an understatement. How could it be so difficult for a couple of women to access some wine at a wine-tasting festival?

We did our best to navigate one of the Disney World-style lines protruding from the winery tents. While we were getting our bearings and bouncing from line to line looking for the non-existent VIP access to the tastings, we came up with a great idea for next year’s event: each participating winery should employ a four-line system: sweet tastings, dry tastings, VIP tastings of both sweet & dry, and a purchase-by-the-bottle line. Also, this system should be made clear in the handout provided to participants upon entry.

I'm on the left & Michelle is on
the right. We are weary as we wait
for our first and only tasting
of our day. Note the great hair
by Studio 120's Alan Culler

We were extremely impressed and thankful for the Weathervane Winery representative who made his way down the waiting line pouring samples of Merlot. His  friendly face and wine-stained shirt was an absolutely beautiful sight for our critical, frustrated eyes. We would have been much happier had Weathervane not run out of some of their dry selections with four hours of the event left to go. Regardless, Michelle highly recommends Sunset Red, the Merlot. My recommendation is Temperature Rising, a Chianti. We both recommend event planners calculate more accurate crowd expectations based on pre-event ticket sales, Groupon success, and past events to ensure all wineries are fully prepared and all participants have the full selection of wines to taste after their 40-minutes-plus on the line.

We realize this blog post is getting a bit lengthy, so we decided to bullet point the rest of our recommendations:

  • Let folks know when one of their favorite wineries listed on the festival map is not actually participating. We were incorrectly told the Rag Apple Lassie Vineyards tent was behind the DIRECTV tent. We did two laps around the festival and sustained three hot flashes before realizing there was not a Rag Apple Lassie tent.
  • Allow for seating of all VIP ticket holders in the VIP tent. We couldn’t get into the VIP tent even though we had VIP wristbands. It is possible there were non-VIPs in the tent. If that was the case, we recommend a roped access with bouncers for the VIP area.
  • The $5 voucher for food that came with the VIP ticket was nice, but didn’t get us much. We each “purchased” a scoop of mac and cheese with our vouchers. The scoops were small and mine was cold. The food vendor was also running low on food with four hours to go. We recommend a $10 voucher.
Special thanks to our new friend, fellow
writer Nichole Nichols, who graciously
took this photo and patiently listened as we
recounted our latest wine event adventure.
Our final recommendation is for 40+ women attending crowded, hot, sticky wine festivals. It is perfectly acceptable—especially if you didn’t have to pay for your tickets—to leave early and head to a nice wine bar, such as Rioja! Wine Bar & Wine Warehouse. A nice  air-conditioned venue with a wide selection of wine by the glass and savory snack options—we shared the cheese, fruit, and olive plate—is the place to go to relax, cool off, and debrief about tastings and festivals.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, writer, and content strategist is the author of Thurston T. Turtle books. 
Michelle Harmon, mother of one, wife, and massage therapist is the co-owner of The Healthy Back and Body Clinic

Follow Micki & Michelle on Twitter @Wine_Whiners
Wine Whiners on Facebook

Thursday, September 6, 2012

School Lunches Part II

Deviled Eggs: Great for the Parent Back-to-School
Celebratory Luncheon. NOT great for the child's
brown bag school lunch. 
The new school year is underway and advice—from how to save on pencil sharpeners to how many extra-curricular activities are too many—floods the media. I’ve already tapped into my experience to provide the PICK FROM TWO system. In my second of two blogs addressing even more advice for back to school, we delve into the school lunch dilemma with notes on why not to pack certain foods.

Rather than take up valuable blog real estate and bore you with the entire list of foods at least one expert claims are best for your child’s school lunch, I’m going to focus on the items from the list you should AVOID. These items  include: Greek yogurt (or any yogurt, really), soup or chili (even if it is in an insulated container), deviled eggs and pasta or rice salad.  

While yogurt and deviled eggs are highly nutritious after school snacks, I’m not a fan of including them in a child’s lunch. I’ve been to the cafeteria. Those items will not be edible at lunchtime. They will be fun to use in an unofficial science experiment involving mushy foods, milk and a soda. Having some of the more interesting ingredients for the lunchroom experiment will make your child popular at the lunch table as well as increase his chances of getting to know the principal. But your child won’t be eating these foods.

Remember, your child is not headed to a swanky office complex where he or she can store the lunch in an oversized refrigerator sitting in a community kitchen. Your child is headed to school. His or her lunch bag or box will reside at the bottom of a backpack, in a stuffy locker or in a wooden or plastic cubby that may or may not get direct sunlight most of the day. It is best not to send your child to school with items that need to be refrigerated. If they don’t become part of the lunchtime entertainment, they will end up in the trash or, even worse, you child might actually take a bite, become sick—another popularity booster—and end up at home for the next two days. It’s best to pass on these items and leave the bacteria-growing to the biology department at the high school.

You are probably wondering why I’d be against soup or chili, considering experts suggest these items be packed in insulated containers. If children were able to prioritize or even conceive of proper insulated container handling and maintenance, I’d say go for it. However, this skill isn’t developed until one’s mid-thirties. If you send your child to school with soup or chili, you are going to have to clean soup or chili up for days. It will be in the child’s lunch bag or box, book bag and clothes. Drips and drops of soup or chili will dry to the interior of the child’s locker and be forever part of the bus or car seat cushion upon which the child sits while going to and from school.

We are left with pasta and rice salad. Rice should be self explanatory. By the time your child is old enough to eat rice without getting it everywhere, including in his or her ear, up his or her nose and between pages of his or her grammar book, he or she won’t want it unless it comes with hibachi steak and shrimp.

Pasta salad is a great snack. However, like other items requiring refrigeration, a salad is not the safest of selections for the school lunch. In addition to bacteria growth concerns, it has been my experience as a parent that children treat salads, including pasta salad, the way most people treat mixed nuts. They pick out the good stuff and toss the rest. Therefore, you might think your child is eating pasta, olives, sun dried tomatoes, and shaved carrot tossed in creamy Italian dressing. In reality, he or she is eating olives—one of which might have piece of shaved carrot clinging to it.

I advocate broadening your child’s palate and increasing his exposure to healthy foods. However, this is something that should be done at home, under close supervision, in a place where there is always a backup pbj sandwich at the ready.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, writer, and content strategist is the author of Thurston T. Turtle books. 
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Visit Micki’s website:
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
Read Navigating Hectivity

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