Monday, February 23, 2015

Cheap & Easy Snack Mix

My family loves a good snack mix. So when I happened upon a modestly priced bag of snack mix, I began buying and dividing it up into lunch baggies for my youngest to enjoy in his lunch box. Before long, I had to start purchasing an extra bag for himand everyone elseto enjoy at home. 
Cheap Easy Snack Mix | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My family loves our cheap and easy snack mix.

Then one day, I went to the store to stock up on lunch box items in preparation for the end of a lengthy school break. Unfortunately, the modestly priced snack mix was not in stock. But its place on the shelf was not empty. Rather, a new flavor of chips was stocked there instead. 

I panicked. What if they didn't carry the snack mix anymore? I shrugged off the silly thought, realizing I could simply go to the super center down the road and get their brand of snack mix. So off I went to battle the crowds at the super center.

Not only did the super center not have a generic brand of snack mix, the name brand cost more than twice that of the mix I used to buy. As I stared in anguish at the high-priced bag of cereal mixed with pretzels and other snack items, it dawned on me; I could mix up my own snack combination and save tons of money. 

Armed with the name-brand snack mix shamelessly in my cart as a reference, I wandered through the cracker, chip, and cereal aisles in search of everything that was pictured on the bag of pre-mixed snack. Then, when I was confident I'd found comparable ingredients, I put the name-brand bag back and headed home to mix up my own tub of savory mix. 

I did not coat the cereal or any other snack items in butter, sugar, and spices. I did not bake it in the oven.  Rather, I just mixed up what I purchased in a big tub. Then I divvied up some of it into baggies for several weeks of school lunches. The rest was placed in the dining room with a ladle for anyone in the house who needed to satisfy a munchie craving. 

The mix was a hit. I know this, because my son went out of his way to say, "Mom, you rocked the snack mix." That has to be one of the highest teen compliments known to mankind. 

My mix was much cheaper than the pre-mixed version. It was much quicker to put together than the recipes that mimic the name-brand snack and party mixes. And my family loves it just the same. If you want to save money and time, here's how it's done:

1 box of cereal (rice or corn squares work great, but if your family likes honey nut oat O's, use them)
1 bag small-sized pretzels 
1 box cheddar cheese cracker squares or fish-shaped crackers
1 bag cheddar-fries snacks (or something comparable)
1 bag or box of bagel chips 

Empty all the bags and boxes into a big container. Toss gently with a big spoon. Place a ladle and some paper cups or bowls next to the container for your family to use when they want to snack. 

If you prefer a healthier snack mix, change it up and use organic, whole grain snacks instead. Have allergy considerations? Use snacks that are allergen free. You have all the power. It is time to harness that power and start saving money while meeting your family's snacking needs.

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 2015 Michele Bare 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Keep Your Poisons, I Want to Travel in Pretty Clothes

Four months ago, my doctor had a serious talk with me. My cholesterol and triglyceride numbers were too high. At my forty-something age, this was going to become a problem if I did not take action to get the numbers down. I was devastated. I did not want to take any of the prescription medications routinely offered. I feared some of the potentialprobable, considering my family historyside effects. Medicines also cost money. I'd much rather spend my money on travel, clothes, and girls' night out with my friends. There had to be another way.
Yoga & A Walk Everyday | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My yoga sun salutations and a 3-mile
walk, whether outside or on my
machine, are always on my to-do list. 

My doctor reviewed my overall health while I sat bewildered at the numbersI did, after all, introduce flax seed into my family's diet some time agopromising to make drastic lifestyle changes. My blood pressure was good. My blood sugars were good. She also found that several years ago, I had some success reducing my cholesterol and triglyceride numbers after visiting with a dietician. After thoughtful consideration, my doctor gave me four months. If I could significantly change my numbers through diet and exercise, she would not need to write any prescriptions. She then noted the challenge I faced considering Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's, and my birthdayall food-centered holidaysstanding between me and my retest. I promised her I could and would do it. I had to do it. I had to remain healthy for my family, especially my mom. 

My doctor stopped cold, looked into my eyes, put her hand on my shoulder, and declared, "You have to do it for you." Then she walked out of the room to get a nurse who would schedule my follow-up appointments for February.

Me. Yes. Of course! I needed to do this for me.

I started out on fire. Immediately ripped from my diet were white grains. No white rice or white bread. Also eliminated were white potatoes, butter, and most fruits, except for apples and the occasional banana. Olive oil became a cooking staple in my home. Brown rice and whole wheat pasta were stocked in my pantry. My only "sandwich" breads were whole grain, flax seed, and nut loaves, freshly baked in my kitchen. No more processed foods, either. But the biggest change of all was the elimination of refined sugar. No sweets. No cookies or desserts. No cakes or pies. No chocolate.

Although, I did make a few exceptions. There was the cannoli (homemade) on Mom's birthday, a piece of cake on my birthday, and a chocolate-covered mousse truffle torte dessert concoction served on the Napa Valley Wine Train. It was the Napa Valley Wine Train! An exception had to be made.
Sweet Rule Exception | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The once in great while allowable exception
to my new no-sweets rule. But it was Napa.
We were on the Wine Train. It had to be done.

My exercise routine began with yoga every morning and two miles of walking every day. After a couple of months, my walk became three miles. Four months later, I was settled into a relatively regular routine of yoga five to six mornings a week and a three-mile walk three to four times a week. Yoga and a walk are on my to-do list every day, which keeps me from going more than two days in a row without exercise. 

What I did not give up were my red wine and olives. I did not let go of seared tuna or pecans. I always pass on the bread basket and dessert when we go out to eat. And I choose wisely from the menus. In my mind, white grains, processed food, and sugar are poison. They are the enemy. Hubby, while supportive, has grown tired of hearing about the enemy, especially when he's trying to enjoy a brownie or yeast rolls from a complimentary basket.

Finally, it was time to visit my doctor and review my retest results. Before I arrived at the doctor's office for my personal mid-life moment of truth, I already knew some important facts:
1. I lost some weight.
2. I felt better than I did four months ago.
3. I no longer craved or even missed sweets.
Homemade Healthy Bread | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My homemade whole grain, flax seed
and nut bread. I use pecans.

Before the doctor walked in, I already knew from the nurse that I'd lost 9 pounds and my blood pressure, which was already good, had gone down. But it was my doctor who delivered the really great news. 
1. Triglyceride number reduced by 55 percent.
2. Total cholesterol number reduced by 11 percent.
3. Good cholesterol number increased by 20 percent.
4. Bad cholesterol number reduced by 19 percent.
5. Cholesterol/HDL Risk Ration dropped into target range.

If I keep my numbers where they are or if they decrease more, my future can remain medication free. Folks, you can have your white grains, white potatoes, refined sugars, processed foods, and most of your chocolateI might have a taste again on my birthday. As for me, I'll be saving all that money that would have been budgeted for medications and putting it toward little getaways for Hubby and me. And some pretty clothes to wear while traveling. 

To my dearest friends, I believe my results are cause for celebration. It's time for a girls' night out!

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 2015 Michele Bare 

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Sequencing Skills Prevent Marinara Mishaps

Remember when your teacher gave you a worksheet of captioned illustrations and asked you to put them in the correct order so they depicted a logical story? They called it sequencing. The teacher asked, what happened first? What happened next? What happened last? I absolutely loved those worksheets. But then, I was destined to become a writer who tells stories through the written word. 
Sequencing Skills | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
This worksheet from 
is a great example of how to teach
jumbled text re-sequencing.

For those who were not as passionate about stories, sequencing was something they completed, turned in, and promptly forgot. As they would do years later while sitting in algebra class, they questioned when they would ever use such a skill again. Let's face it, when you go to the library, you don't check out a stack of loose pages that have to be put in sequential order before you can read the story from beginning to end.

As it turned out, however, the skill was something we would come to desperately need. Especially if your family, like ours, experienced a smartphone rift, after which a marinara recipe had to be shared. 

When we first provided our children with smartphones, we all had Android-based Galaxy models. Our communications were compatible. We could send messages and photos to each other with nary a misunderstood exchange, especially when we accessorize our messages with cute emoji. 

As children will do, the boys grew older and, according to their accounts, wiser. And as happens with older teens and young adults, they began operating under the delusion they knew better than their parents. They began to make their own money, which gave them a sense of power. My children, one at a time, rebelled against Android technology. They all became iPhone users. 

Hubby and I thought little of our children's transition to the iSide. What did we care? At upgrade time, Hubby and I each walked away with a built-in stylus and the highest quality smartphone cameras available. 
Jumbled Texts | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
In my son's defense, this
exchange occurred in the
early evening, after a long day
of brain-intensive college work.

But then my middle son asked for my marinara recipe via a text. Gushing with pride over the request, I texted him the recipe. What happened next was horrific. My son texted me back and asked that I email him the recipe. For a twenty-something to request an antiquated email, there had to be something horribly wrong.

As fate would have it, he was unable to follow my marinara recipe. You see, because the recipe was long enough to require several texts, it was broken apart in cyberspace. Then, when the Galaxy text I sent was reassembled by my son's iPhone, it was no longer in chronological order. And here's the worst part. My son, who is a few months away from graduating from a well-respected university, could not easily re-sequence the jumbled texts. 

Was he one of those students who turned in the completed sequencing worksheets without ever giving another thought to how it could apply to real life? Did his elementary school teachers skip the sequencing lessons to focus on end-of-year testing? Had he learned so much since elementary school that these skills were squeezed out of his intellect? 

Regardless of what happened in the past, we clearly now live in a world in which sequencing skills are critical for communicating essential information, such as how to prepare the family's homemade marinara sauce. Until such time exists in which all smartphone platforms are 100 percent compatible, we must be prudent about ensuring our children understand sequencing concepts. 

Parents of young children, especially those of you who have already armed your babies with smartphones, make sure your children's schools thoroughly cover sequencing. Don't let marinara miscommunication happen to your family.

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 2015 Michele Bare