Friday, March 9, 2012

The Snowy Owl Makes Unexpected VIsits

Marion Pellicano Ambrose

One of the most beautiful, graceful and striking birds of North America is the Snowy Owl. Usually elusive to residents of the US, the Snowy Owl has suddenly been sighted by hundreds of bird watchers all over the United States. The New York Times reported on this unusual phenomena on January 23, 2012.  Denver Holt, director of the Owl Research Institute in Charlo, Mont, told reporters:
“There are so many across the country, everywhere, by the thousands,” Mr. Holt said. “It’s unbelievable. They are being seen from Boston, to the Great Lakes, the Ohio River Valley, Kansas, Vancouver and Seattle. One showed up at the airport in Hawaii, and they shot it, it’s the first ever in Hawaii and they shot it!”

The Snowy Owl spends   summers way up in the far reaches of the arctic, hunting lemmings and other small mammals to feed its hatching young. Once the coolness of fall begins sweeping through the arctic, it migrates further south down into the boreal forest of Canada and the northern reaches of the United States to settle in for the winter. Despite this, it still remains difficult to find for many birders. If not for the speckling of darker markings across its torso, wings, and head, it would be nearly impossible to see in the snow. Even with the help of its markings it, like many owls, will remain perched silently for hours on end.

However, its striking beauty and the fact that it is active during the day, make it a special treat for many birders. For those of you who have yet to see one, this just might be your year. Snowy Owl sightings have been sprouting up almost everywhere, it seems. As the Times article notes, Snowy Owls spottings are being reported by the dozens in places like Kansas and Missouri, where typical years will only produce a few. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently uploaded this video of Snowy Owls:


Thursday, March 8, 2012


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Barbara Ward-Finneran
Celebrate the you you are right now. Embrace the present moment and be proud of today. Armed with the power of knowing that the more you acknowledge and honor the present, the more there will be in life to celebrate. Potential can stretch far beyond anything you imagine --- all you have to do is dare to push it!

Keep the promises that you make to yourself!

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Ward-Finneran and Drawn 2 Design, LLC
©  All Rights Reserved


JIM ROMANOFF, For The Associated Press

Purim has been summed up in this way: They tried to kill us, we won, so let's eat!
Of course, the actual story is a bit more complex than that, but the simple fact is that for Jews who love to cook and eat, this holiday is a favorite.

In a little bigger nutshell, the tale behind Purim — which is celebrated March 8 — involves a Persian king, his prime minister, Haman (the bad guy) who had it out for the Jews, and a community leader named Mordecai. Basically, Mordecai and his stepdaughter Esther, who became the queen (of the good guys), save their people.
The fun that goes along with the celebration of Purim can't be overstated. Events and traditions include the reading of the Purim story along with audience participatory noise-making to drown out the name of the bad guy each of the 54 times it is mentioned.
Then there's the food. The Book of Esther tells celebrants they should practice charity and goodwill (which in the story helped save the Jews from peril), by helping those who are less fortunate, and by the making and giving of food gifts called mishloach manot. Then, of course, there needs to be a feast to celebrate the victory.
There's even a proscription for adults to drink wine until they can't tell the difference between the names of the bad guys and good guy. So much for dull holidays.
Jewish food expert Joan Nathan, most recently author of "Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France," says that the giving of food gifts makes Purim one of most enjoyable and satisfying holiday's for families to celebrate with their children.
Nathan says that gift baskets often include fruit and plenty of baked goods, which traditionally were made to use up a household's flour before the beginning of Passover (when baked goods are restricted). Many families, she says, have baking flurries that are akin to the way others whip up cookies ahead of Christmas.
Obviously, she points out, this can be an all-inclusive family activity, but because the baked goods are being made to give as gifts, it's an opportunity to teach children about thinking of others rather than just themselves.
Nathan really likes the whole process of hand making and giving gift baskets, but for those who can't there are always easier ways to go.
Moshe Morrison, director of Kosher Foods for New York grocery chain Fairway Markets, can appreciate this. Morrison, who comes from a family where both parents were in the food business, makes sure his customers can find plenty of foods for Purim gift giving. He says that Fairway even has future plans for offering pre-packed mishloach manot.
Morrison says that some of the more popular items for Purim gift baskets include the sesame candy, halvah, Elite brand chocolates (a favorite from Israel), and of course, hamantashen, a filled cookie that is triangular in shape to represent (depending on your interpretation) either Haman's (the bad guy) ears or his tri-cornered hat.
If you like, these cookies, such as our orange-poppy seed hamantashen, are fun and easy to make at home.
For the big meal, known as the Feast of Esther, many foods are included, but often vegetarian dishes made with nuts, grains, seeds and legumes are eaten to pay tribute to the fact that Queen Esther avoided eating meat; the animals were not slaughtered according to kosher tradition at the palace.
These vegetarian Turkish red lentil balls are a delicious, healthy and easy way to include a taste of Persian cuisine in your own Purim feast.
Start to finish: 2 hours 40 minutes (40 minutes active)
Makes about 30 cookies
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 egg yolks
2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces, softened
Grated zest of 1 large orange
Half of a 12 1/2-ounce can poppy seed cake and pastry filling
1 large egg, beaten
In a food processor, combine the powdered sugar, flour, salt, egg yolks, butter and orange zest. Pulse until a dough forms. Remove the dough from the processor and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 day.
Heat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter or clean drinking glass, cut the dough into 2 1/2-inch circles. With the tip of your finger, moisten the rim of each circle with water.
Place 1 teaspoon of poppy seed filling at the center of each circle. Form triangular cookies by folding the sides up over the filling, leaving the center uncovered. Pinch together the three corners. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets. Brush the outsides of the cookies with the beaten egg.
Bake until the edges are lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on a rack.
Nutrition information per cookie (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 130 calories; 60 calories from fat (49 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (4 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 35 mg cholesterol; 15 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 0 g fiber; 10 mg sodium.
If you can't find harissa (a North African chili paste), substitute any of the chili-garlic pastes you find in the grocer's international aisle.
Start to finish: 1 hour
Makes about 32 lentil balls
1 cup uncooked red lentils, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup fine bulgur, uncooked
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon harissa (red chili) paste
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 scallions, finely sliced
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
Boston or butter lettuce, torn into thirty 2-by-2-inch pieces
Lemon wedges
In a medium saucepan, bring 2 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 15 minutes. Mix in the bulgur, cover the pot and remove from the heat. Let the mixture rest until the residual liquid is absorbed by the bulgur, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium skillet over medium, heat the oil. Add the onions and saute until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Stir in the harissa and cumin, then cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes more. Transfer to a mixing bowl and set aside.
Once the lentils and bulgur are cooked (the mixture should be moderately moist like dough), add to the reserved onion mixture along with most of the scallions and parsley (reserving just enough for garnish). Season with salt and pepper, then mix well. The lentil mixture should resemble thick dough. If it still seems too damp, add more bulgur and let the mixture rest until the bulgur is no longer hard, about another 15 minutes.
Keeping your hands wet, mold about 1 heaping tablespoon of the lentil mixture into football-shaped balls. Place each ball in one of the lettuce pieces and arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with the remaining scallions and parsley and drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.
Nutrition information per ball (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 45 calories; 15 calories from fat (29 percent of total calories); 2 g fat (0 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrate; 2 g protein; 2 g fiber; 65 mg sodium.



Each year around the world, International Women's Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8. Thousands of events occur not just on this day but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

Organizations, governments, charities and women's groups around the world choose different themes each year that reflect global and local gender issues.

"Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures" is the 2012 theme of the website and this has been widely used by hundreds of organizations including schools, universities, governments, women’s groups and the private sector. Each year the United Nations declares an overall International Women's Day theme. Their 2012 theme is “Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty”. Many organizations develop their own themes that are more relevant to their local contexts. For example, the European Parliament's 2012 theme is "Equal pay for work of equal value".

United Nation International Women's Day themes:

- 2012: Empower Rural Women – End Hunger and Poverty
- 2011: Equal access to education, training and science and technology
- 2010: Equal rights, equal opportunities: Progress for all
- 2009: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls
- 2008: Investing in Women and Girls
- 2007: Ending Impunity for Violence against Women and Girls
- 2006: Women in decision-making
- 2005: Gender Equality Beyond 2005: Building a More Secure Future
- 2004: Women and HIV/AIDS
- 2003: Gender Equality and the Millennium Development Goals
- 2002: Afghan Women Today: Realities and Opportunities
- 2001: Women and Peace: Women Managing Conflicts
- 2000: Women Uniting for Peace
- 1999: World Free of Violence against Women
- 1998: Women and Human Rights
- 1997: Women at the Peace Table
- 1996: Celebrating the Past, Planning for the Future
- 1975: First IWD celebrated by the United Nations


Various IWD themes around the world

- Global, United Nations: Women and men united to end violence against women and girls
- Canada, Status of Women (Federal Gov): Strong Leadership. Strong Women. Strong World: Equality
- Australia, UNIFEM: Unite to End Violence Against Women
- Australia, Queensland Government Office for Women: Our Women, Our State
- Australia, WA Department for Communities: Sharing the Caring for the Future
- UK, Doncaster Council: Women's Voices and Influence
- UK, Welsh Assembly Government: Bridging the Generational Gap
- UK, Accenture: Stretch Yourself: Achieving 50:50 in the boardroom by 2020
- USA, IBM: Women@IBM: Success in the Globally Integrated Enterprise

International Women's Day has been observed since in the early 1900's, a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies.

Great unrest and critical debate was occurring amongst women. Women's oppression and inequality was spurring women to become more vocal and active in campaigning for change. Then in 1908, 15,000 women marched through New York City demanding shorter hours, better pay and voting rights.

In accordance with a declaration by the Socialist Party of America, the first National Woman's Day (NWD) was observed across the United States on 28 February. Women continued to celebrate NWD on the last Sunday of February until 1913.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Barbara Ward-Finneran

Teachable moments.

Hugs and kisses.  

Looking to the light so you don't get lost in the shadows.

Telling someone you love them, even when they know it. 

Daring to change.

Laughing out loud.

Cheering really loudly at kids sporting events.

Keeping the promises that you make to yourself!

WANNA LAUGH - The modern ABC's


Marion Pellicano Ambrose
Is there a wicked season ahead for the Mets?! 
First baseman for the Mets, Ike Davis, has been diagnosed with Valley Fever, according to statements from the ball club. Davis failed a physical given upon arrival in Port St. Lucie, Florida, with an abnormal chest X-ray. He was sent back to New York for further testing where pulmonary and infectious disease specialists made the diagnosis. Davis is not contagious, but must but must avoid doing anything that might fatigue him for the time being. He will be reexamined when the team returns to New York in early April.

Valley Fever can be a very serious disease. It’s a fungal infection that is released from dirt in desert regions of the Southwest. It is inhaled and causes the infection in the lung. Davis lives in Arizona during the off season and likely inhaled the fungus when dirt was stirred up by winds or construction.

Davis had a very promising rookie season and batted .302 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 36 games last season after hitting .264 with 19 home runs and 71 RBIs in 2010. He missed much of the 2011 season due to a bruised bone.

 Losing Davis could pose a serious problem for the Mets since All Star shortstop Jose Reyes signed as a free agent with the Miami Marlins.  My personal opinion: the Met’s owner needs to invest more $$$$ in them. Payroll slashes and “other interests” on the part of the owner have put the Mets at a disadvantage. The fans (including myself) are loyal and believe in our team. The owner should do the same. Come on Fred – support your boys!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Tony Walker
Since I will be the next President of The United States, from now on my He Said's will be Your President, He Said.
As your President I will legalize prostitution.
Have you ever thought about why prostitution is illegal??
Sure some of you think it's disgusting. Some of you think it's bad for health reasons. Some of you think men who cheat with prostitutes should be tortured.
I am not arguing any of those points. But are those reasons why it should be illegal??

Why should we deny the right for a man or woman to get laid???
Everybody wants some! I want some too!!!
If that's the easiest (or only) way someone can get some love, shouldn't they be allowed?
If it's legal, the places it occurs may improve. The prostitutes may be healthier women if it's legal.
If someone is doing it behind their spouses back, you're on your own. This President ain't touchin that!
Sex sells.... spending money & regulating legal sex would improve spending, pay taxes, create jobs, etc. This could be a major boost for our floundering economy!!
What do you think? Should prostitution be legal?


Marion Pellicano Ambrose

Move over Monday Night Football , March Madness, Survivor and Dancing with the Stars ! It’s time for “Super Tuesday”! No, it’s not a sport, most times it’s not even “sporting”, but it’s a game of high stakes with only 4 major players remaining.

In the United States, “Super Tuesday” refers to the Tuesday in February or March of a presidential election year when the greatest number of states hold primary elections to select delegates to national conventions at which each party's presidential candidates are officially nominated. More delegates can be won on Super Tuesday than on any other single day of the primary calendar, and, accordingly, candidates seeking the presidency traditionally must do well on this day to secure their party's nomination. In 2008, Super Tuesday was February 5; 24 states held primaries or caucuses on this date, with 52% of all pledged Democratic Party delegates and 41% of the total Republican Party delegates at stake. The 2012 Super Tuesday will be March 6, 2012. (

Since Super Tuesday primaries are held in a large number of states from geographically and socially diverse regions of the country, Super Tuesday typically represents a presidential candidate's first test of national electability. Convincing wins in Super Tuesday primaries have usually propelled candidates to their party's nomination. The particular states holding primaries on Super Tuesday have varied from year to year.

The “Survivors” on the Republican island are Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul. On March 6th, voters in 10 states will head to the polls for the busiest primary day so far.
The stakes are as high as they are clear. For Romney, coming off victories in Michigan and Arizona, the mission is to keep amassing more delegates than his rivals, and polls suggest he will win the most delegates on Super Tuesday.

Exit polls showed Michigan voters' top priority was the economy, a benefit to Romney, who has argued that he has stronger business credentials than Santorum, his chief rival. Romney's perceived electability against President Obama also persuaded some voters to choose the former Massachusetts governor over Santorum, polls showed.

Santorum needs to recover from some missteps that occurred earlier. Some controversial statements by the candidate on birth control and the separation of church and state have left mainstream Republicans concerned the former Pennsylvania senator is too far to the right to win in November. Ohio will be a key state for Santorum and is where he currently leads in the polls.

 Newt Gingrich still has an opportunity for yet another rebirth, partly because of Santorum’s missteps.GIngrich needs to show he remains a viable option, and he knows it. Speaking on Thursday at a campaign event, he acknowledged, "I have to win Georgia," his home state.

As for Ron Paul, he states that he’s pleased to be outperforming his 2008 results.  He has 18 in the latest Associated Press tally, which includes a projection of how many unpledged delegates he’ll collect from caucus states that have not awarded them yet.

 Super Tuesday will prove to be an interesting “challenge” for the Republican “survivors”!

Super Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Monday, March 5, 2012


Marion Pellicano Ambrose

“When the chips are down, I have Israel’s back”. Barack Obama March 5, 2012

As tension rises and Israel becomes more and more concerned about the development of nuclear facilities in Iran, President Obama has promised support and if necessary, military action to insure Israel’s protection. At the same time, he stated that he believes we need to wait and let the sanctions that have been put in place  take effect and we should continue to try to resolve these problems with diplomacy.

The relationship between President Obama and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been somewhat strained to say the least. Many people believe that Netanyahu isn’t convinced of Obama’s resolve and that Israel might go ahead with attacks on Iran’s nuclear facilities. The most telling statement indicating that Israel might end up acting on its own was Netanyahu's insistence that the Jewish state must be the "master of its fate." "The pressure (on Iran) is growing but time is growing short," Netanyahu was quoted as telling Obama during what was seen as the most tension filled meeting of U.S. and Israeli leaders in years.

 Israel, believed to be the only nuclear weapons power in the Middle East, fears Iranian nuclear facilities may soon be buried so deep that they would be invulnerable to its bunker-busting bombs, which are less powerful than those in the U.S. arsenal.

Israel insists that military action against Iran would be warranted to prevent it from reaching nuclear weapons capability, as opposed to when it actually builds a device. The New York Daily News published an article showing several attack options Israel is considering against Iran. The general opinion is, Israel will not wait much longer.

It’s clear that we are on the verge of a momentous time in history. Will it be another Holocaust if the US convinces Israel to wait, as Netanyahu fears?  Will Iran back down because of political and economic sanctions as Obama hopes? There are serious issues to be considered.

Ladies and gentlemen, I believe it’s time to start praying, because it seems that’s all we can do right now!  Pray for guidance for world leaders, pray for peaceful resolutions, and pray that all nations might grow too wise to engage in nuclear war!

*Comments welcome, but please, intelligent, clean, productive comments. Let's not bash anyone! Thank you!

Plant City Strawberry Festival

Marion Pellicano Ambrose

The Strawberry Festival has been apart of Plant City's history since 1930. An organization called the Plant City Lions Club had the idea to unite communities through celebrating this Strawberry Festival. Only one time in history did the strawberry festival come to a halt, which was during World War II. Today, the "Florida Strawberry Festival Association" is still running in full operation which is governed by a board of directors from the local community who work year round to help the strawberry festival become top 30 of such events in North America.
 You can find agricultural shows, fun contests, rides, parades, great country entertainment and strawberry delights in one place at an affordable price. The festival celebrates the area's biggest crop and typically includes all things strawberry — from vendors offering everything from berry-themed crafts to flats of the red fruit.
They don't call it the "Winter Strawberry Capital of the World" for nothing — because there's nothing like Plant City's strawberries! You won't be able to resist all the tasty treats and delicious delights prepared with mouth-watering fresh strawberries. And, you can even test your limit in the strawberry shortcake eating contest!
The Florida Strawberry Festival offers a wide variety of options for guest of all ages. From Farming to joy rides the strawberry festival has it all. You can expect to see concerts, attractions, rides, games, shopping, wide selection of food, and lots more at the strawberry festival. for more information just visit the Florida Strawberry Festival homepage.

WHEN: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. March 4 through March 11
WHERE: 303 N. Lemon St., Plant City (From Orlando, take I-4 West towards Tampa. Take the Thonotosassa Road Exit. Turn left and follow to traffic light. At light go straight onto Lemon Street to a 4-way stop at Oak Avenue. Turn right on Oak Avenue. Ticket office is about 2 blocks down on the left.
HOW MUCH: $10 adults, $5 children ages 6-12, children age 5 and younger free
CALL: 813-752-9194


Easy Fish Stew With
  • 1 tablespoon(s) olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 stalk(s) celery, chopped
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, crushed with press
  • 1 teaspoon(s) Cajun seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
  • 1 can(s) (14 1/2-ounce) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup(s) water
  • 1/2 cup(s) dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound(s) cod fillet, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound(s) medium shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • Crusty bread (optional)

  1. In 4-quart saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, and celery, and cook 8 to 10 minutes or until onion is tender and golden, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic, Cajun seasoning, and teaspoon salt, and cook 1 minute, stirring.
  2. Add tomatoes, water, and wine; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in cod and shrimp. Cover and simmer 3 to 4 minutes or until cod and shrimp just turn opaque throughout, gently stirring once. Ladle stew into 4 large soup bowls and serve with bread if you like.


Marion Pellicano Ambrose
Twitter is on fire with the news that JK Rowling has signed a book deal with Little, Brown Publishers for a new book, this one for adults. Harry Potter fans have been posting their reactions to the news. Rowlings herself Tweeted: “As you may have heard, I have a new book out later this year. Very different to Harry, although I’ve enjoyed writing it every bit as much,” The details of the book, such as title and the date it will be published worldwide, have yet to be revealed.

"She is one of the best storytellers in the world," said Little, Brown Publisher David Shelley. "…I am looking forward enormously to helping bring her new novel for adults to her fans and admirers, and to introducing her writing to new readers the world over."

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Barbara Ward-Finneran
Dreams and goals have no expiration dates. The are completely renewable. No matter where you are in the journey of your life -you hold the ability to stir the untapped possibilities. Breathe it all in - The new beauty of your life is there - waiting to be born - and living it is the grandest thing in life.

Keep the promises that you make to yourself!

Photo Courtesy of Barbara Ward-Finneran and Drawn 2 Design, LLC
©  All Rights Reserved


This Day In Music History
Jason Newsted (from Metallica) (1963)
Composer Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (1678)

Shows & Plays:
Composer Carlos Surinach (1915)The Musical "The Goodbye Girl" opened at the Marquis Theatre. (1993)

The Musical Revival "Annie Get Your Gun" opened at the Marquis Theatre. (1999)

On the Charts:
Today the song "Ruby Tuesday" by the Rolling Stones topped the charts and stayed there for a week. (1967)

Today the song "(Love Is) Thicker Than Water" by Andy Gibb topped the charts and stayed there for 2 weeks. (1978)

Today the song "Lost in Your Eyes" by Debbie Gibson topped the charts and stayed there for 3 weeks. (1989)