Saturday, December 21, 2013

Practical Holiday Dish Art


My mornings are typically filled with reading and writing, so turning on the morning news a few days ago was a household anomaly. However, I had a hair appointment scheduled that day and did not have a lot of time. So, after reading the paper, I decided to flip on the television for a few minutes while I finished my coffee.

Mrs. Happy Homemaker was making a guest appearance on our local morning news show. A year ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of attempting any of the cute, fun holiday crafts she cheerfully demonstrated. But I've been at this stay-at-home-mom thing for a year now and have been exploring the crafty side of my personality. I was particularly interested in Mrs. Happy Homemaker's edible peppermint dishes. I was already planning to bring homemade bread and some goat cheese to a holiday party. Why not make a peppermint dish for the cheese?

While shopping, I picked up two rolls of goat cheese, so I was going to need two elongated peppermint plates. For my first try, I thought they turned out quite nicely.

Edible holiday dishes | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare

Goat cheese rolled in a mixture of chopped cranberries, almonds, and fresh rosemary looks much more festive on a peppermint plate, don't you think?

Cheese log on peppermint plate | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare

Not since I was a child watching my Shrinky Dinks bake in Mom's kitchen have I had so much fun sitting in front of an oven window. After making the cheese plates, I had to do more. I needed a matching platter for the cranberry cheddar bread I baked a day earlier. The only reason I even bought the cheese was to have something to spread on slices of the bread.

The bread platter was going to be a bigger project. I wanted to make it even more festive, but it still had to match my cheese roll plates. As I paced around the house, I turned to our decorated Frazier fir for inspiration. Candy canes! Of course!

It took a bit more time and patience to create the platter. But after painstakingly lining up my candy canes and mints just so, Hubby and I were as giddy as three-year-olds as we sat on the floor for 7-10 minutes. We actually laughed out loud and clapped when our candy melted into a piece of sweet, edible, practical art.

Candy cane mint platter | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare

Thank you, Mrs. Happy Homemaker, for sharing your secret to inexpensive, festive, edible, holiday dish ware that is perfect for covered dish parties—my platter cost much less than the foil containers in which I typically wrap my bring-along appetizers. And thank you also for the precious moments Hubby and I spent on our kitchen floor, giggling and staring into the glowing oven as our candy magically morphed into shiny serving plates.

Happy Holiday Covered Dish Parties!

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Merry Christmas Spirit


The date of His birth is irrelevant | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
It matters only that He was born (not when)
& how we share the Spirit of Christmas.
What's In A Date?
There are some who nitpick about how Jesus' birth had to have taken place in September or another month and date other than a cold December day nestled in the first week of winter. But I am glad we celebrate Christmas in December. First, I can't think of a better time of year than the beginning of the coldest season filled with hardships such high heating costs, surges in illness, and lack of warm sunshine to celebrate generosity, kindness of heart, and empathy toward the human plight. People reach out during the holiday season. And those who need a helping hand need it most during the unforgiving season of winter.

Let Mary and Jesus keep close in their own hearts the actual date of his birth to cherish in private. Let us mark the day during which the memory of His birth can have a deeper, more profound impact on the people He serves. Let those who would serve Him continue His charitable works. And let us all be inspired to live by such examples.

The story of the businessman who anonymously gives away $100 bills during December is one such amazing and inspiring example. Reading it inspired me to share more examples of the Spirit of Christmas as it wandered into my heart this year.
Secret Santa efforts spread the Spirit | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Secret Santa work helps evoke
and spread the Christmas Spirit

Save It Forward
While Christmas shopping with my mom this past week, I was standing in the checkout line of a large store. A woman who had just finished paying for her things turned around and handed me a stack of coupons. "Would you like to use these coupons?" I was shocked as I took the pieces of paper. Most were expired, but there was one that had a January 2014 expiration date.

At the register, I handed over the one good coupon, and then handed the rest of the stack to the cashier to throw away. He explained that the store was not honoring expiration dates. Then he added that I could use two and handed the unused coupons back to me. I was pleasantly shocked and surprised. I then turned toward the next person in the checkout line and handed the rest of the unused coupons to her.

When I rest my head on my pillow at night, I imagine the coupon stack getting smaller and smaller as it makes its way through the line of shoppers, saving folks money, spreading Holiday Spirit, and inspiring others to be kind to and share with strangers.

Under-indulge & Over Tip
It's no secret that I carry a more cynical heart than most. So, I'm sure this next episode was inspired by my earlier coupon experience. This story involves my son and me casually eating out as we do most Mondays when Hubby is scheduled to work the late shift. That evening, our server greeted us with a shrill voice. My son cringed as he wondered how we'd get through the meal listening to her. While I agreed the initial sound was off-putting, I suggested she might be nervous. Also, she looked sweet and seemed to be working diligently.

As the evening went on, her voice calmed down. We found out it actually was her first week as a server. She was attentive, patient, and kind. A strong desire to forego beverages, I selecting water instead, and choose a modest meal overtook me. My son followed my example and ordered lightly, as well. We then said no to a final course, even though my son had already selected a chocolatey-rich dessert while we were waiting for our food. When I received the bill, which was much lower than usual, I made up the difference with the tip.

The tip ended up being about 50 percent of the total. Our server deserved every dime. During this season of overindulgence, it felt liberating to cut back on our own indulgences and share some of our blessings with someone who works as hard as anyone and probably much harder than most.

Spread the Spirit
Many of us will never have $100,000 a year to hand out to strangers in need. But there are lots of great kindnesses that can be and are shared during the holiday season and into the New Year. No, Jesus was probably not born on December 25. But I certainly am comforted knowing I live in a world in which the warmth of human goodness is stoked in our hearts during an otherwise dismal time of year.

I hope you will share your heartwarming Spirit of Christmas stories with me via email or in the comments section below.

Merry Christmas Spirit to you and yours!

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

Friday, November 29, 2013

Mr. Toodles is Watching, So Behave Well



Toodles the Elf Observes Behaviors | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Mr. Toodles watches from his perch
an the top of the curio during the day
and reports back to Santa each night. 
Before our first cups of coffee on Black Friday, our nephews and niece pulled us into the living room to meet Mr. Toodles. While were were sleeping off our Thanksgiving gluttony fest, Santa Claus dropped off Mr. Toodles. He will be, they informed me, hanging about the house from now until Christmas Eve.

From what I now understand, Mr. Toodles uses his special powers to return to the North Pole each night and report on the children's behavior.

The first, most very important fact about Mr. Toodles is we cannot touch him. It is extremely important for everyone, especially newbies like Uncle Dave and myself, to keep as safe distance. If Mr. Toodles were to be touched, he would lose his magic powers.

Our oldest nephew told us a story to illustrate the severity of a lost-magic injury. He explained that there was an elf observing from a very low shelf. The little girl who lived in the home accidentally touched him. The poor elf lost his magic and had to walk all the way back to the North Pole. When he finally arrived, he had to undergo lots of medical procedures, including surgery!

After telling us about that poor, magically-injured elf, our nephew told us about the time Mr. Toodles fell off of one of their shelves last December. Our nephew thought quickly and threw a blanket over Mr. Toodles. Then, he told his little brother and sister to stay away from the blanket. When he knew Mr. Toodles was protected, he reported the incident to his mom. She immediately went to the blanket, grabbed a tissue, and carefully helped Mr. Toodles back to his perch on the shelf. She was careful not to touch him and Mr. Toodles survived the incident unscathed.

This year, to ensure his little brother and sister remembered all of the important things about Mr. Toodles, he snuggled on the couch with them and re-read the book.

From what I now know about him and his elf friends, I believe Mr. Toodles is going to have a wonderful report for Santa tonight.

Learning about Mr. Toodles and his elf friends was a great way to begin day two of our Thanksgiving weekend.

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

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thankful for Bread Recipe



Reader request for bread recipe | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Thanks, dear reader, for your creative
request for my favorite bread recipe.
Thanksgiving is a great time to reflect on our blessings. This year, I outlined a few of my 2013 gratitudes in my weekly column. However, not long after the newspapers hit folk's driveway puddles and thorny bushes, I received an email from one of my readers. She was distraught. Not because I was thankful, but rather, because I listed the easy recipe I now use to make bread as one of my blessings. However, after describing why the recipe was so great, I continued on to talk about something else rather than actually include the recipe. In an effort to right this egregious wrong, here is my version of the recipe my mom shared with me from one of her magazines:

My favorite bread recipe:


Pour 3 cups of hot tap water in mixer bowl.
Dump 1 1/2 Tbs of sea salt into the hot water.
Sprinkle 1 1/2 Tbs of yeast on top of the hot water.
Combine 6 cups of unbleached all purpose flour with 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

Dump the flour mixture into mixer bowl.
With a dough hook, start mixing, slowly at first, then faster, just until it balls up, about a minute of total mixing time.

Remove the dough hook, scraping excess dough back into bowl.
Cover the bowl with hot, damp cloth. Let it rise for an hour.
Place a pan of water on the lower rack of oven. 
Preheat oven to 450
While the oven preheats, scrape dough into floured surface and create two balls of dough. No kneading is required, but you can knead a little if desired to get your loaves shaped.
Place your "loaves" on a greased and floured cookie sheet. When oven is ready, cut the slits across the top of each loaf. I use a bread knife to make the slits.
Place the cookie sheet in the oven above the water pan. The water pan is what creates steam for a better
crust.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with olive oil.
Transfer the loaves to cooling racks.

Homemade Pepperoni Pizza | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Sometimes my boys like pepperoni on
their homemade pizza. 

For pizza dough:

Reduce the amount of salt to HALF of a Tablespoon.
Follow the above directions until the dough has risen for an hour.
Preheat the oven to its hottest setting.
Dump the dough and a floured surface, divide, knead and roll into pizza crusts.
I flour my pizza pans before transferring the crust.
Brush with oil and top with sauce, toppings and cheese to taste.
Bake until crust is golden and cheese begins to bubble and brown.


Artisan herb breads:

It's just as easy to create your own, homemade artisan breads. I use the above recipe, adding dry herbs, freshly chopped garlic, sundried tomato pieces, or anything else my tastebuds desire or family requests. I add these items to the dry flour mixture before dumping the flour into the hot water.


Enjoy and HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

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

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Freedom Means I Don't Have to Care



Homemade gifts are better for Christmas | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My sister made me my favorite
kitchen aprons one year for
Christmas. I cherish them much more
than the coffee gift cards of the past.
Polls asking when radio stations should begin playing Christmas music abound. Opinions regarding Black Friday sales beginning on Thursday are being solicited via every social media outlet known to mankind. I have been doing my best to avoid these debates. Not because I have a heated opinion one way or the other, but rather because the topics or irrelevant and frivolous.

Ask me what I think about managed health care or immigration policies. Then make sure the world, especially my representatives, know where my peers and I stand on these issues. But please don't waste my time with ridiculous opinion polls and news features on issues that serve no purpose other than to distract and entertain the general public.

As Americans, we are privileged to enjoy freedoms and opportunities others envy. As a lifelong citizen born in New Jersey, I hereby exercise my freedoms in regards to these inane topics.

On the topic of when to begin playing Christmas music on the radio, I don't care. Start November 1. Play it in February. Have Christmas music scheduled every Saturday all year long. It doesn't matter to me, Mr. Radio Station Guy, what you decide. We live in a free country. If I don't like the music, I can change the station. Better yet, I can stop listening to the antiquated radio altogether and rely on my collection of downloads and the personalized Internet "radio station" I created several years ago.

In regards to stores offering ten-minute-only, door-busting Black Friday deals on Thanksgiving, I don't care. Offer your best deals of the year all day long on Thanksgiving, if that's what you want to do. I won't be there. I've never shopped on Black Friday and I certainly don't intend to shop on Thanksgiving. I'll be enjoying great homemade cuisine and making lasting memories with my children, nieces and nephews. I feel no loss at missing the big blowout deals offered on the few days off we all have together. I can shop another time. Better yet, I can make the majority of my gifts this year. Homemade gifts are more meaningful, anyway.

Now that we've got the non-issues out of the way, wouldn't it be great if our media spent more time on important problems? Oh, right. Freedom. News outlets are as free to cover and report on whatever they deem most important to their readers as I am to not consume their content.

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Writing Away November



NaNoWriMo 2013 | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My bifocals and my keyboard will be my
dearest, closest friends during November.


11/30: I cannot believe I pulled it off! And the story wrapped up beautifully. I am so excited!! I cannot wait to dig into editing. One of my resolutions for 2014 will be to get it in front of agents. Wow! What an amazing feeling.

11/23: Yes, I've fallen behind. But I will catch up. I have not written tens of thousands of words since November 1 just to give up now. My characters deserve better. I will keep going.

11/12: Today, I broke 25,000! I'm halfway to reaching the NaNo goal. What a great feeling. The story line is shaping up nicely, my characters are coming alive in ways I never expected, and to top it all off, it snowed in North Carolina tonight. I was not sure I'd make it to that halfway mark today, because I not only wrote, edited, and submitted my column this morning, I also published a new blog post this afternoon. Typically, I run out of writing steam after I submit a column. Maybe the discipline of writing an average of 2000 words specifically for NaNo has had a positive overall effect. Maybe my muse is as charged as I am. Maybe the cold air and fluffy, white flakes provided a boost of motivation. Whatever the reason, I'm now officially halfway there! HAPPY DANCE :D

11/7: I surpassed my old high-score, if you will. The closest I have come to realizing a word count of 50,000 was 15,000 words. Today, I hit over 16,000. Here's what I've learned about my personality as a writer thus far:
     * I have to write in Times New Roman 12pt font and my document must be double spaced, otherwise I become too distracted to write. I believe this quirk derives from 14 years of weekly column-writing, and three children's book manuscripts, completed in that format.
     * While I am more creative in the early hours of the day, I can write any time of day. I'm not as productive at 8 p.m., but as long as I pull out my laptop and write, I will accomplish something, and that in itself helps keep my momentum going strong.
     * I will not be able to write as much for NaNoWriMo on the days I have to write or edit my weekly column. I shouldn't expect to be able to write as much on those days. I don't have to write as much on those days. I've actually nearly convinced myself...
     * I can write a novel. I always knew I had the potential, but the way my NaNoWriMo 2013 story is developing and the process I'm experiencing as a result has me convinced writing novels is something that I can and will do.
     * I now completely understand why authors become emotionally attached to their characters. Characters do have a life of their own; they are entities. Being the conduit that releases them from imagination to the written word, giving them meaning and credence, is humbling, cathartic, and mystical.
     * I don't think my novel will be done when I hit the 50,000 mark. My new goal is to finish the novel, regardless of the final word count. However, my sub-goal is to reach 50,000 by November 30.
     * I am actually looking forward to the editing process, which I plan to do after I complete the first draft of the entire novel. And while it was hard at first, I'm finally at a point where I can let the editing go for now for the sake of moving the story forward. It's what my characters, especially Amelia, would want.

11/3: I woke up this morning worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up the momentum. But I began writing in the morning again. Morning has always been the most productive time of day for me. It's also when I'm most creative. Getting up, hitting my personal word count goal for the day, then starting the usual stuff--cooking, cleaning, shopping, hanging out with family and friends--is definitely working for me. I'm not getting the same level of chores completed as I was able to accomplish before NaNoWriMo, but that's okay, because I am fine with using NaNoWriMo as an excuse. And, on day three, I'm thrilled to have churned out another 2565 words in my novel which, at this point, is beginning to take on a life of its own. This year, for this project, I went somewhere different for inspiration, because I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about on October 31. Then it came to me. My great grandfather was an artist. Several of his paintings hang in our home. I decided to gaze into one of them and draw my inspiration from it. So far, I've been more inspired to write than I've ever felt in my life. What was your inspiration for NaNoWriMo 2013?

11/2: Just added my widget, above, so my word count will be automatically updated on this blog. I've accomplished 5018 words and 17 pages thus far. I just wrapped up chapter two, so I'll begin with chapter three, and word number 5019, tomorrow. I feel great about this strong start this year and hope to be able to keep up the pace and hit that 50,000 work mark by the 30th. I'm also happy with my characters and story line. This novel is truly taking on a life of its own. Also, I'm thrilled about adding Hubby as a buddy on the NaNoWriMo site. I was ahead of him on word count last night, then he surpassed me this morning. I currently have a higher word count, but I doubt he is finished for the day. Let the household competition begin!

***

As if the holiday season doesn't zip by fast enough, I've decided to participate in another time-consuming activity above and beyond the chaos indicative of the last two months of the year. I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo2013 as it affectionately shows up in social media hashtags.

This isn't my first go at the 50,000-word writing challenge. I attempted it in 2005, at which time I was able to crank out about 4,000 words. In 2008, I made another attempt. But by December 1 of that year, I had only 15,000 words--a great improvement over 2005, but still far short of the NaNoWriMo goal. In my defense, all my children were still at home and I was still employed full time. Not that either of those excuses should inhibit others from participating. People with far busier schedules than mine meet and exceed the NaNoWriMo goal every November.

This year, however, with only one child still living at home full time and no other jobs outside of writing, I decided to officially track my progress and be more diligent about keeping up the pace. It is possible to write 1,667 words a day and still participate in life. All it takes is willful determination and prioritization. The fact that we no longer subscribe to cable television will help me greatly in efforts to prioritize my writing this month.

Tech and science geeks have their Comic Cons. Theatre geeks have their summer musicals. Athletes have their triathlons. Those of us who write have NaNoWriMo. Therefore, in addition to logging word counts and other updates on the NaNoWriMo site and participating in local NaNoWriMo activities, I will update this post on my blog. We are midway through day one and I've already written 2112 words. And just so we are clear, the word counts I will be reporting toward the 50,000-word goal are in addition to my column writing, blogging, and any other writing on my plate. I am only counting words written for the novel I began this morning for the purpose of participating in the 2013 NaNoWriMo event.

It is November. It is time to release the novel within.

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

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Spirit Endures



Mysterious Halloween Jack-o-lantern | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Who was responsible for the mysterious
jack-o-lantern delivery? 
When the boys were little, we participated in all the family holiday clichés. We baked cookies, prepared Valentine's, dyed eggs, and carved pumpkins. It was a lot of fun, albeit a bit time consuming, costly, and physically exhausting. And while Santa and the Easter Bunny still make annual appearances in the middle of the appropriate nights, as the boys got older and began to lose interest, we slacked off on other activities. But in our defense, Hubby and I have been going on the assumption that the boys just weren't into it anymore.

But they are my boys. They have my genes. I should have known better.

In their creative ways, and with the help of their friends, they've reminded me that activities that define a holiday never get old. At least, I assume it was my children and their friends. It could have been the Spirit of the Holiday.

Childhood Pumpkin Carving Memories | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My oldest mentoring his little brothers on
pumpkin-carving etiquette. 
This year, I barely decorated for Halloween. We have a wreath on the door and a few skeletons dancing in the breeze as they dangle festively from our trees. I also strung up some lights. But we keep forgetting to turn them on. Meanwhile, I never did get around to picking up a pumpkin for carving. And I've fallen into the habit of putting off purchasing candy for trick-or-treaters until an hour before they start ringing the doorbell.

My youngest child, the one who still lives at home with us, never mentioned anything about pumpkin carving this year, so I wasn't worried. But someone was worried. Because we do have a jack-o-lantern. And we were instructed to make sure it is lit tonight.

Throwback Thursday Halloween | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My middle and youngest work hard
to prepare the pumpkin for carving.
While I was out yesterday, a car slowed down in front of our house. My youngest was outside walking his dog. The people in the car identified themselves as siblings of his brothers' friends. They handed him the carved pumpkin and drove off, but not before noting that it needed to be lit on Halloween night.

When I arrived home, I asked my son about the jack-o-lantern. Had he purchased and carved it on his own? A feeling of guilt washed over me. But he didn't buy or carve it. He explained the odd drive-by drop-off. He told me we were to make sure it was lit on Halloween night.

Did his brothers arrange the delivery? Or did the Spirit of Halloween decide to call me on my lack of holiday spirit? We may never know. But I can assure you the jack-o-lantern will be glowing tonight to greet costumed children while I offer up delicious treats.

Jack-o-lantern Memories | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The final results of the collaborative
efforts of my children, when they were
young, with a little help from their mom.
And just so the Spirits of other holidays know, we will bake cookies for Santa this year. We will dye Easter eggs in the spring. And next fall, our yard will be filled with intricately carved spookiness of the squash variety.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 

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

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Red Okra



A couple of decades ago, when I could still remember what it was like to be "Northern," I made my ex-husband's family stewed squash. That was a Thursday evening. On Saturday morning, his mother taught me "how to cook." She took out a big iron skillet, a tub of shortening, and a sack of corn meal. The vegetables from her garden were stacked on the counter. We prepared everything from fried green tomatoes to fried okra. That night, alongside the venison, we had freshly fried squash.
Red Okra | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Preparing my red okra for frying was a
pleasant, non-sticky experience. 

While I loved stewed vegetables, especially with a little tomato and basil mixed in, the fried vegetables were also good. All but one. The okra she grew and I learned how to fry was green. When we sliced it up, a sticky, slimy goo emerged. Even breaded and fried to its golden crispy glory, I could not bring myself to eat the okra.

For years, I avoided okra. In the South, that's not an easy thing to do, especially during the summer and fall. Okra grows like dandelions around these parts and turns up often as a side dish, in salads, and in soups and stews.

But a couple of days ago, I was in one of my childhood mom's garden. She is the mother of one of my childhood friends; and when I was a child, you listened to and respected your friend's mom the same way you did your own. Our families spent a lot of time together in the 1970's and early 80's. But then my family moved away from New Jersey. As fate would have it, my friends parent's came to retire in the same small town in North Carolina I call home. My mom moved in with us and had an instant old friend. Recently, my childhood friend also moved to town with her kids. So, a couple of days ago, while all the kids were in school, moms and daughters got together for a lunch and shopping outing. At the end of our adventure, my other mom gave me that tour of her garden, which brings me back to my original story about okra.

Now, when she mentioned she had okra, I made a face. But she instantly replied to my pursed lips and scrunched up nose with, "Oh, it's red okra. I don't like the slimy kind. The red okra is not sticky. And it's delicious."

Red? Red okra? I walked over to the tall burgundy stalks and my other mom started picking the red okra pods. She then handed them to me and said, "We have plenty. Take these and try them."

Southern fried red okra | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
This delicious red okra never
made it to the dinner table. 
For supper that night, my son wanted me to heat up the fryer and make homemade chicken strips. I hesitated at first, because the chicken was still frozen and after shopping all day, I was planning to heat up leftovers for supper. But even at 16, my child can still melt my defenses. While the chicken was thawing, I thought, why not cook up that red okra?

So, I pulled out some corn meal, sliced up the red okra, and fried it in our deep fryer. As soon as it was cool enough to taste, I popped one in my mouth. WOW! It was delicious. By the time the chicken strips were done cooking, all the okra was gone.

For decades, I assumed there was only one kind of okra. Of that gooey, slimy kind, I am not a fan. But now that I know there is a red, delicious alternative, okra has been added to my list of things I do love about being Southern. And after over 30 years in the South, I am much more Southern than I am Northern. Just ask my cousins in New York.

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

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Travel Feet


It was an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with a dear friend, recently. My senses were filled with new tastes, sights, aromas, and more. I did my best to make good use of my camera, capturing at least 1000 photos, 958 of which I did not delete. While we flew to Quito and rode in cars and even a train, my feet did lots of work as well. Since they were responsible for ensuring I got the most out of my trip, here is a synopsis of our travels from the perspective of my feet.
Equator in Ecuador South America | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My left foot is in the Southern Hemisphere,
and my right is in the Northern Hemisphere.
My shadow rests on the Equator! 

Papallacta Volcanic Hot Springs Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My feet had the opportunity to relax beyond
anything they'd ever imagined in the
volcanic hot springs in Papallacta.

Quito Bus Tour Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
On the bus tour of Quito, were these feet walked
the peak of El Panecillo for an up-close view of
the statue of the Virgin Mary and a panoramic
view of the city of Quito, Ecuador.

San Pablo Lake Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
After lots of walking at the market in
Otavalo, it was nice to relax lakeside
at San Pablo Lake.

Tren Tour of Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
On Friday, my feet settled in on the train for
a beautiful tour of the countryside of Ecuador.

Pacific Ocean Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My left foot was the first part of my body to
experience the Pacific Ocean. The sand was
so soft and the water was warm and inviting.

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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Honoring Dad with New Camera



I'm all packed for my trip to Ecuador. My suitcases and carry on bag are stuffed to capacity. As I mentioned before, there are a couple of items I chose to leave off my packing list. One is my laptop and the other is my smartphone. The decision to leave the smartphone behind was a tough one, mostly because it takes higher quality pictures than any of our antiquated digital cameras. I inherited the gene that makes it impossible for me to go anywhere or do anything without chronicling it with photos from my father. I'm pretty sure everyone on my dad's side of the family has the same gene. It takes several refills on popcorn and a case of soda to get through the DVD compilation of everyone's photos and videos from our last family reunion.

Once I made the decision to leave the smartphone behind, I had to buy a new camera. It had to be at least as capable as my phone. Last week, my new camera arrived. To break it in and get the feel of it before my trip, I decided to wander around our yard and snap some photos. My dad took thousands of pictures of flowers and trees in his lifetime. He loved nature. So, in memory and honor of the man who gave me the gene that made it impossible for me to head to Ecuador without a brand new digital camera, here are some pictures taken just outside of our home.

Wine colored mums on the porch | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Wine-colored mums on our porch.

Baby Japanese Maple | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
New growth on our baby Japanese maple. 

Pretty Blue Fall Buds | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Pretty purple flowers that bloom in autumn.

Pink mums for the fire table | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Pink mums dressing up our fire table. 

Volunteers outside the flower box | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Volunteers growing outside the flower box.

Hubby's Out-of-Control Cactus | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Hubby's Out-of-Control Cactus.
Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare