Sunday, December 21, 2014

Shortest Day


It is a blessing that today was the shortest day of the year.
Alzheimer's Caregiver Flower | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Yellow: I am supporting or caring
for someone with Alzheimer's.


Since Mom's diagnosis, I have done my best to focus on the positive. There are lots of obstacles to overcome, but there are also lots of shining rays of happiness filtering through the trees of the dark forest. That's what I strive to keep top-of-mind.

But there are days, like today, when despair overtakes positive thinking; when nagging thoughts creep in and push out the knowledge that typically keeps me strong.

I know, for instance, that this time next year will be much different than today. But I also know, regardless of what the future holds, that this time next year will be worse, because it's Alzheimer's.

With other diseases, there is always hope for a cure; the notion that things might still be okay and your loved one could still pull through. But that is not the case with Alzheimer's. Rather, we live in the shadows of the knowledge that this moment is as good as it gets.

The approaching holidays make it nearly impossible to push out thoughts of those who chose to abandon my mom, me, and our family. Thoughts of efforts to reach out going unanswered. Thoughts of close relations who prioritize other things that pull their attention and compassion away from us. The pain is acutely sharp and persistent. Pleas for support fall on deaf ears that exist in the realm of denial; a realm to which I have no access.

On days like these, when buckets of negative thoughts rain down, I try to busy myself with soothing chores, such as baking. Today, I baked ten loaves of bread. Every morsel will be given away. The process, including giving it away, is therapeutic. 

But still, as a day like today wares on, there comes a moment when there is only one thing that can be done; as bread in the oven baked and the dough in the bowl rose; I sat quietly in my room where the light was growing dim and I wept.

The tears silently streamed down my cheeks, warming my face like the soft embrace of an angel's hug. The poison of hurt, frustration, and anger spilled out. Hubby retrieved a box of tissues and placed it on the table beside my chair.

When the tears were spent, there was room once again for good thoughts; loving family that supports us on our journey; amazing friends that help us through each day without hesitation; amazing, strong, sons who cook supper, run errands, and tell goofy jokes; happy, loving moments shared with Mom. 

For now, the darkness is held at bay. Tomorrow will be another day with the promise of just a little more light than today. Some days, a little more is all any of us need.

But at this moment, with dryer eyes, I can honestly say that for me, it is a blessing that today was the shortest day of the year.

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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Easy Soy-Free Fudge for Mom


Fudge for Dessert | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Mom will be pleased that she, too, can
enjoy a piece or two of fudge for dessert.
Last year, I discovered Mrs. Happy Homemaker. She was on a local television news program showing us how to make candy dishes out of hard mint candy. After the show, I looked up the recipe on her website and made a couple of candy cheese plates. This year, I even noted in my column that candy canes can be used to make edible dish ware. That's how impressed I was with Mrs. Happy Homemaker's festive idea and her easy-to-follow instructions. 

This year, while perusing Twitter, I could not resist clicking on the link in a tweet that suggested I could make fudge with only two ingredients. Fudge always eluded me. But if it was that easy, and did not require baking, boiling, simmering, or any other patience-required kitchen dance, it was worth a try. While I know patience is an important ingredient for many recipes, patience is in short supply around my kitchen during the holiday season.

The two ingredients for the fudge were milk chocolate chips and coconut pecan frosting. My heart sank as I read the two simple ingredients. My mom has a soy allergy. How was I going to find chocolate chips as well as a tub of frosting that each contained no soy or soy products? 
Soy-Free Easy Fudge | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Thanks to Betty Crocker, Hershey's, and
Nestlé, mom can have fudge again.


It being the Christmas season, I decided to head to the grocery store and read labels. To my surprise and joy, I came across Hershey's chocolate caramel frosting by Betty Crocker. It was soy-free. I was elated enough to start rummaging through the wall of morsels in search of something without soy lecithin. It took a little longer, but I finally unearthed Nestlé dark chocolate morsels (53% cacao). It was a holiday miracle! I was going to be able to make chocolate caramel fudge that even my mom could enjoy.

The instructions were, again, easy to follow. My adaptations included using the chocolate caramel frosting and dark chocolate morsels as well as putting down parchment paper instead of foil and forgoing the cooking spray. 
Parchment paper works just as well
as foil and cooking spray.


While at first it smelled like those Easy Bake Oven cakes my sister and I made a million years ago, it set up just as Mrs. Happy Homemaker said it would after thirty minutes in my refrigerator. And the final result smelled like decadent fudge. 

In years past, I put brownies on our Christmas cookie plates for friends and neighbors. This year, they are getting fudge. Thank you Mrs. Happy Homemaker!

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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare

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) 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
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) 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
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) 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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Monday, December 8, 2014

When Cat Away, Mouse Paints


DIY Interior Painting | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
DIY painting saves money!
Hopefully enough to hire a
professional for the next room.
When we bought our house, every wall was painted the drab sandy neutral color for which I am convinced real estate agents get a kickback. If the walls are neutral, they all say, prospective buyers can visualize themselves living there.

Well, I guess it worked. We envisioned lots for our new home. Only, before moving in, we only had time to paint two rooms. The kitchen was painted terra cotta, because that is the color that inspires my ability to cook. My office was painted golden wheat on top of, and cabernet sauvignon below, the chair rail. We moved in and the painting stopped.

The office is now the man-cave/bare. I currently work out of a smaller room with four drab sandy neutral walls.

My youngest son painted his bedroom. Then he moved into a different bedroom when his brother left for college. He painted that one too. He had leftover paint, so he painted the hallway between the main house and Grams' mother-in-law suite. We discovered he had a knack for painting, so one summer, I paid him to paint our dining room. Then the painting stopped again. 

Until about eight months ago, that is, when I got it into my head that our master bedroom was in grave need of a makeover. Our budget was skimpy, so we began searching for a color that would match our curtains and bedspread, thereby bringing the room together in a cozy, warm manner. After several swatches were taped to the walls for a week or so, we moved to purchasing paint samples. Three samples in, I finally found something I thought would work, so I slapped three patches of the sample paint on various walls. I wanted to see how natural and artificial light would affect the color from various perspectives. 

Hubby and I fell in love with the patches of paint around our room. A month later, we bought one gallon of that color and some painting supplies. A month after that, I painted around the door of our bedroom and replaced the light switch. Progress. It was wonderful. Then the painting stopped, yet again.

Life got in the way. When we--and by we, I mean Hubby--finally did get another section of the room taped and ready to paint, the blue strips of tape remained in place for two months. Then Hubby left on a four-day trip to visit his brother. That's when I lost my mind and decided to get it all done once and for all. A few hours after he left, I began painting. I wanted to surprise him. When he returned, the room would be done. 

Left to my own devices, I learned a lot about painting a room. I learned that I hate corners, especially if they are near the ceiling. Hell is most likely a giant room of ceiling corners that have to be painted over and over without getting a smudge on the ceiling. Here are a few more takeaways:
Ceiling Corners | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Hell hath no fury like painting the
corner near the ceiling.

1. Use a damp cloth to clean drips off the white trim work; NOT a damp paper towel, which will just smear the drips and make a bigger mess, even if it is a name brand that quickly pickers-up spills.

2. Big jobs, such as painting a room or installing storm doors, are best done when one's spouse is out of town for the weekend. This eliminates arguments centered around how it "should be done" as well as makes the process go more smoothly and efficiently. Plus, if the absent spouse is unawares, the surprise factor is an exciting bonus.

3. Do NOT step in globs of dripped paint. And even if you go out of your way to avoid them, CHECK YOUR SHOES before leaving the drop-cloth-protected area.

4. A damp cloth (again, NOT a paper towel) with just a touch of mineral spirits will clean up paint tracks across the kitchen tile, if the mess is cleaned up immediately upon noticing it.

5. Heavy duty black garbage bags work well as drop cloths. 

6. Remove the blue painter's tape a few hours after applying the paint. Otherwise, you risk pulling off some of the new paint with the tape.

7. Find somewhere else to sleep if you are painting your bedroom. The fumes can cause a bugger of a headache, especially when your mom wakes you up upon returning from a night out with her friends at 1 a.m. to remind you to do something you forgot to do because you were painting all day.

8. Clean the paintbrushes really well every day; then even more thoroughly after the job is done. It took a 24-hour mineral spirit soak to clean out the last brush my son used when he painted our dining room. 
Redecorated Room | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Not bad, if I do say so myself.
I especially like the beautiful
Cori Cagle original over the bed.

9. Once you are done with the room that you insisted on painting yourself to save money, be proud of your accomplishment. Then, save up to hire a professional for the rest of the house.

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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Waging War Against Winter's Beast


Soup vs Virus | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Gallons of Soup and Juice
The Front Line of Defense Against
Winter's Beast: Virus
Ah, the winter beast. It is not the cold temperatures, nor the snow. It is not the wind, nor the ice. It is the microscopic maniac that goes by the name virus.

Opinions regarding the safety and validity of flu immunizations vary from it's the government's way of injecting us with stupidity to if you don't get inoculated, you'll be responsible for the next plague. 

In my twenties, my body was a revolving door for the flu. I'd get one strain around Christmas and another around Easter. There are several holiday pictures of me in my robe, not because it was early in the day, but because I could barely get out of bed to celebrate.

When my children started getting it now and again, too, I looked into the immunization. But none of us ever fit in the high-risk population categories. Typically, I didn't think about immunizing until the flu vaccines were in high demand and priorities were put in place for who could receive what was left. Over the years, we weathered lots of bouts of flu and other viruses. Then my dad got sick. Suddenly, I fit one of the categories. I had to be immunized, because I was one of his main caregivers. 

That first year during which I did not suffer any strain of any kind of virus was amazing. Of course, when nature wants to attack, it finds a way. The following year, both Hubby and I contracted rotavirus. That was not pleasant. When dehydration set in for me, I saw angels. All I could think after they pumped me full of fluids and sent me back home from the ER was, "At least this will be over in a couple of days. And I'm not achy." When Hubby got it next, he thought he was in a corn field. Back to the ER.

Mother Nature, and Jack Frost, and whoever else might be responsible for these nasty viruses have finally {KNOCK ON WOOD; RUB RABBIT'S FOOT} taken pity on me. I'm too busy taking care of people, like my children, Hubby, and Mom, to be slowed down by an inconsiderate virus partying late with the music turned up in my intestines, head, and musculature. 

While I have not been sick for several years now, my children are still on the receiving end of the hazards of winter's stray mucus droplets. My oldest had a horrible case of the flu last season, which warranted lots of visits from his mother, gallons of soup, and a week living off a couch near the bathroom with a tower of tissues at his side. Although, if the tissue boxes were take-out containers and his mom was not hovering, no one would have noticed much of a difference, I suppose.

Just recently, my youngest son came home from an amazing field trip during which he had a blast trying to garner the attention of a Jumbotron. And then he spent most of the next twelve hours vomiting everything he had ingested over the past month, including the two and half complimentary hotdogs he ate at the stadium. 

Listen up, army of nasty winter germs! I shall no longer tolerate your attacks on my family. The Thanksgiving turkey carcass is going into the stock pot with carrots and herbs, diced onion and lots of garlic. I also purchased a whole chicken. The soups are on. Paired with my homemade biscuits, you don't stand a chance, oh viral enemies.

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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Life is for Living


To say I am proud of my mom is an understatement. She overcame a tragic childhood, raised three children on our dad's modest income, and eventually became a widow after 44 years of marriage. 

Upon moving in with Hubby, the boys, and me, she made our town her own. She cannot go to the mall, downtown business district, or Walmart without running into someone she knows and engaging in hugs and pleasant conversation. 

Last summer, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It was a harsh blow to us all, most especially her. She has always been an avid reader, loves crossword puzzles, and goes above and beyond to eat healthy. We grew up understanding portion sizes and the importance of a liberal helping of vegetables. But none of that warded off the diagnosis. 

Rather than wallow in thoughts of what could have been or question why, she bought puzzle books, added an extra workout day at the local YMCA, participated in a fundraiser for Alzheimer's research, and openly shared her diagnosis with her friends. 

She is still alive, so she lives, regardless of doctor appointments, tests, and medications. She still makes cloth dolls, paints, and enjoys outings with her friends several times a week: dinner, art gallery openings, plays, concerts, shopping.

Compassion gets us through the tougher moments indicative of mid-stage Alzheimer's; laced with confusion, forgetfulness, frustration, and diminishing independence. Love helps us see beyond it.

Prior to her diagnosis, she planned to visit California through a Senior Adult Center sponsored tour. As her main caregiver, looking out for her and helping her through the illness, I had my reservations about such a big trip. But she's still Ella. She's still an adventurous, fun-loving woman who never met a stranger. She is still alive, so she lives. The trip turned out to be a great adventure; one that we will both cherish in our hearts for a long time to come, regardless of the effects of the disease.

My camera is filled with hundreds of digital memories from our California adventure. But the selfies we took along the way were my favorites. Much of the time, sun and glare kept us from being able to see what we were posting. Much to our surprise and pleasure, each selfie beautifully captured a big life that still has much living to do, alongside a thankful life drinking in the wisdom still pouring forth from her mother.


Arrival | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Arrival in San Francisco
Ice Cream Break | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Ice Cream Break at the Wharf
Napa Wine Train | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Napa Valley Wine Train
(we had help with this selfie so we could include the logo)
Old Sacramento | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Old Sacramento
Sacramento Amtrak Station | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Sacramento Amtrak Station
Truckee California | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Truckee, California
Virginia City Nevada | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Virginia City, Nevada
Enterprise | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Surviving Offices of Mark Twain's Newspaper
Territorial Enterprise
Tahoe Queen | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Tahoe Queen Ferry on Lake Tahoe
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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

National Cookie Day


Baking is fun, creative, messy, and tasty. Maybe that is why the plethora of festive cookie recipes that are shared and baked in December are a much-anticipated highlight of the holidays. 

When I was a child, everyone in the family had their specialty. My mom made owls with cashew beaks and melt-in-your-mouth lady fingers among lots of other memorable sweet treats. My aunt made sticky, gooey rice crispy wreaths
About 18 years ago today,
my kitchen was a mess of
sweet memories-in-the-making.


When my boys were small, we made red and white sugar cookie candy canes, peanut butter cookies with a chocolate kiss in the middle, chocolate chip (which I now prefer to make gluten-free), and iced sugar cookies cut in various holiday shapes. 

A simple recipe and a box of food dye can warm a cold December afternoon, filling it with magical memories. I'm National Cookie Day falls on the fourth of December. It reminds me to set aside time to bake. Sharing platefuls of homemade Christmas cookies with neighbors, friends, and family will always be one of my favorite holiday traditions.

What's your favorite holiday cookie recipe?

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
Copyright 2014 Michele Bare 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Break from Tradition


Christmas Tree for Thanksgiving | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Thanksgiving Day at the Frazier fir tree farm.
We spent our Thanksgiving Day on an adventure. We postponed our holiday meal for a couple of days. Rather than cook and eat, our entire household piled into the minivan at 10 a.m. to make a trip to the nearby NC mountains. Our goal was to find a Christmas tree that would fill our home with holiday spirit and cheer.

Our boys are basically grown, so we knew we could not set a departure time earlier than 10. We're fortunate to see our boys before noon when school is closed and they don't have to work. However, we wanted time to get the tree up and lit once we returned home, so we were not going to wait until everyone was up and about. To motivate them to roll out of bed before noon, we promised the first stop, before leaving town, would be McDonald's. 
Snowball Fight | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Thanksgiving Day Snowball Fight

I could have made homemade biscuits, pancakes, or any number of delicious breakfast foods to pack for the trip. And even though my boys do enjoy my cooking, there is something about stopping for greasy, fatty, fast food that makes getting out of bed worth their while. Plus, my kitchen stayed clean all day.

After a two-hour drive, we arrived at the tree farm. We secured our measuring pole and then hiked over the hill toward the big trees. Hubby measured, Grams pointed out potential trees, I evaluated each possibility for quality, and the boys had a snowball fight. 
Ceiling in the Way | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
No room for the angel.

The snowball fight worked out well, because I could suggest any tree on the farm and my children would have agreed it was the prettiest tree on Earth. They weren't wearing gloves. If agreeing on a tree got them inside next to a warm fire and some hot chocolate, they were all about voting yes. 

With a tree tied to the roof of the van, we ate our holiday meal at a local diner. This also worked out well. One child ordered the traditional turkey platter special. One ordered a sub and fries. One ordered breakfast. I had a nice salad. And my kitchen remained spotless.

The tree met every expectation we had and more. It filled our home with holiday spirit, cheer, piney fragrance, sap, and lots of little pine needles...everywhere. 

A little full, lots of sap...
But a beautiful Christmas tree!
By the time we gathered in the dining room two days later for a giant turkey, spiral sliced ham, and tons of autumn side dishes, our home was decorated for Christmas and our family had tons of wonderful memories to take into the New Year, when our lives will once again become busily disjointed.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
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Copyright 2014 Michele Bare