It’s Turtle Nesting Time

IMG_4071The Venice Sea Turtle Patrol, along with other Sea Venice painted turtles would like to remind you that tomorrow is the first official day of sea turtle nesting season on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The season began in March on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, and you can help these endangered creatures by remembering a few simple things:

  • Avoid disturbing marked sea turtle nests, and do not leave trash on the beach.
  • Do not climb over the dunes or disturb the dune vegetation.
  • Do not disturb nesting sea turtles, hatchlings, or their nests – it’s against the law!  The Federal Endangered Species Act and the Florida Marine Protection Act protect sea turtles.
  • Avoid going to the beach at night. Do not use flashlights or flash photography.
  • Turn off outside patio lights and close the drapes at night to shield indoor lights from shining directly onto the beach.

Finally, if you see an injured or dead sea turtle, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC from your cell phone. Please be prepared to answer the following questions: What is the exact location of the animal? Is the turtle alive or dead? What is the approximate size of the turtle? Is the turtle marked with spray paint? (This indicates that the turtle has been documented.) What is the location of the closest access point to the turtle? (From Sea Turtle Conservancy website.)

And who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and see a turtle or hatchlings on shore!

6 Down; 8 To Go


IMG_4484 A trip to Big Talbot Island State Park just south of Amelia Island made the list of 14 in 14. Our goal was a sunrise visit, but a trek to Boneyard Beach requires planning since the area is only accessible at low tide.

Low tide, at sunrise, in April…sounds perfect! Of course, not only was the day overcast and sprinkling, but it was downright cold. Undeterred, we took the half mile hike down Blackrock Trail where we were greeted by a sign warning of the steep drop off to the beach.

We managed to pick our way down the six foot drop to find the other worldly beach littered with trees that have fallen to the forces of erosion.

We spent over an hour on the deserted beach exploring the boneyard of trees. No spectacular sunrise, but a wonderful morning…six down, eight to go!


Do NOT Reply All

Last week all Marion County teachers received a crazy email from a school board member. A few hours later the same school member sent a second email warning teachers to only use the US Postal Service to send her correspondence since the school system mail was not secure. Then a couple of hours later a second school board member sent an email about the “two unusual emails” received from the first school member. (The joys of working for elected officials!)

And that’s when the fun began! Now teachers started weighing in on the validity of the messages sent by each school board member by hitting the infamous REPLY ALL button and with every new message another “ding” to alert every school board employee that a message had arrived in their inbox.

My favorite message (and one of the few that should have been sent as a reply all message) read:

I am trying to teach using smart board with speakers, every e mail is disruptive to students.  Please click on respond to sender not all.  Thank you for your consideration.

This isn’t the first time employees in the school system have been plagued by the discourteous REPLY ALL. It usually raises its ugly head once or twice a year.


Then the following day, I heard an interview with Stanley Bing, the author of The Curriculum: Everything You Need to Know to be a Master of Business Arts. He spoke about the first chapter, or as he calls it, the first course in his book, “How Not to Look Stupid” and the first thing he mentioned? Don’t REPLY ALL!

The “How Not to Look Stupid” chapter in this humorous book goes on to provide advice on topics like how to nod to avoid looking dumb and how to discuss a spreadsheet you don’t understand. It even provides advise about always drinking less alcohol than your boss, but the one I hope you’ll remember first and foremost:

DO NOT REPLY ALL! (You don’t want to look stupid!)






On Sunday’s I’ve been posting poetry written by my mother-in-law, Bettie Lou, for the past nine months. Writing poetry was a form of therapy after losing her husband and then her youngest son in 1985.

Since I’ve posted all of the poetry she’s written, I decided to share a site where poetry lovers can subscribe to receive a Poem-A-Day. Subscribers receive a poem by email daily. Unpublished works by contemporary poets, as well as classical and historic poems are included in the Poem-A-Day emails.

Rondeau, by Jessie Redmon Fauset, was the Poem-A-Day for April 19th, 2014.


by Jessie Redmon Fauset

When April’s here and meadows wide

Once more with spring’s sweet growths are pied

I close each book, drop each pursuit,

And past the brook, no longer mute,

I joyous roam the countryside.

Look, here the violets shy abide

And there the mating robins hide—

How keen my sense, how acute,

When April’s here!

And list! down where the shimmering tide

Hard by that farthest hill doth glide,

Rise faint strains from shepherd’s flute,

Pan’s pipes and Berecyntian lute.

Each sight, each sound fresh joys provide

When April’s here.

– Source:; Poem-A-Day; April 19, 2014.


by Jessie Redmon Fauset

When April's here and meadows wide 
Once more with spring's sweet growths are pied 
    I close each book, drop each pursuit, 
    And past the brook, no longer mute, 
I joyous roam the countryside.

Look, here the violets shy abide 
And there the mating robins hide—
    How keen my sense, how acute, 
      When April's here!

And list! down where the shimmering tide 
Hard by that farthest hill doth glide, 
    Rise faint strains from shepherd's flute, 
    Pan's pipes and Berecyntian lute. 
Each sight, each sound fresh joys provide 
      When April's here.

– See more at:

April Pound Cake of the Month: Red Velvet

I definitely took the easy way out when baking this month’s Red Velvet Pound Cake. The ingredients from previous recipes included not only flour and sugar, but baking soda, baking powder, sour cream and a variety of “special” ingredients like a can of Sprite in January’s Lemon-Lime Pound Cake, strawberry glaze and cream cheese in February’s Strawberry Swirl Pound Cake and pecans and a homemade praline frosting in March’s Praline Pound Cake.

So when I finally found a recipe for Red Velvet Pound Cake, I thought long and hard about whether or not I wanted to try one that called for a box of cake mix as its basic ingredient. However, to be honest, I found recipes for several red velvet swirl cakes, but only one for a cake that would provide the red color of the cake I desired.

After a quick trip to the grocery, I baked this super easy, but delicious Red Velvet Pound Cake. Unlike the 2 1/2 to 3 hours required to bake the other cakes, I only invested about 1 1/2 hours this month so it can easily be made at the last minute and its festive appearance makes it a perfect choice for a special occasion.


  • 1 box red velvet cake mix
  • 1 box white chocolate instant pudding (small)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup oil

I used sugar-free pudding, only because that’s all that was available at the grocery, and I wasn’t willing to make another stop for one ingredient. Fortunately, the sugar-free mix worked fine, and in fact, I’ll probably use it the next time I bake this cake.

Red Velvet Pound Cake Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325° and coat 10 cup bundt pan with baking spray.
  2. Combine ingredients in large bowl and mix for 2 minutes on medium speed.
  3. Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 50-60 minutes.
  4. Cool 15 minutes before removing from pan to serving plate.

Since my large bundt pan is a 12 cup pan, I used a 6 cup pan and 3 mini cakes. The mini cakes baked for 20 minutes and the 6 cup cake baked 35 minutes.


The recipe from Just a Pinch called for microwaving canned frosting to make a glaze, but I couldn’t go that far so I made a glaze from scratch that actually turned out to be more of a frosting than a glaze. Maybe I should have microwaved my frosting to get more of a glaze. Oh well, that’s something I can try next time.


Cream Cheese Glaze (Frosting):

  • 1 pkg. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/2 stick butter (softened)
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2+ tsp. milk

Mix cream cheese and butter until creamy either with a hand mixer or by hand. Gradually add powdered sugar until fully incorporated. Add 2 – 3 cups for desired sweetness. Add milk 1/2 tsp. at a time to thin frosting to more of a glaze and then drizzle over the cake.


My glaze came out much more like frosting but I’ll sacrifice a little in appearance for taste. So glad I took a chance on this easy cake mix based recipe!



Rainforest Masks at Selby Botanical Gardens


For the past ten years, visitors to the Selby Gardens’ Museum of Botany and the Arts have enjoyed hand made masks created by craftsmen of Costa Rica’s Borocan village.

Native flora and fauna decorate the ornate masks made from the abundant cedar and balsa wood of the region. On our recent visit the museum walls were lined with nearly 300 masks.

The sale of the masks provide important financial support to the village as well as support the work of the Gardens.


A trip to Selby Gardens is worthwhile any time of the year, but planning a visit next spring when the masks are on display would be a bonus. Check out the news for Marie Selby Botanical Gardens for upcoming events as well as for the dates of next year’s display of the rainforest masks.


National Princess Week?

National Parks Week, National Library Week, Earth Day all worth recognizing, but National Princess Week? No way! Just what we need. The last week of April set aside to encourage princess dreams in girls. We laugh when a child says he or she wants to grow up to be a horse, but act like growing up to be a princess is a legitimate future goal.

Have you been to Disney lately? All the little and not so little girls dressed as princesses trying to enjoy a theme park in long dresses, with tiaras, and dress shoes. Not exactly the ideal apparel for Splash Mountain or the Grand Prix Raceway.

I hate to think that anyone falls for this marketing gimmick by Disney and Target and the Julie Andrews Collection. I guess Julie Andrews is a natural spokeswoman for National Princess Week since she provided instruction on princess how to in the Princess Diaries, (a movie I enjoyed) but she seems to have taken this whole princess thing a bit too seriously. Writing numerous princess books, a princess app, and a list of 30 Ways to Celebrate National Princess Week. I wish she’d go back to Mary Poppins or Maria Von Trapp, strong women instead of the helpless princess characters.

Pink, a great color. Princess, a great character. But there’s so much more than pink and princess. Why not a little more balance? We definitely don’t need a week to celebrate princesses.

It may be time to revisit Not Just a Girl. Jaime C. Moore’s photographs remind us there are so many alternatives to the idea of princess for girls.




Ketchup Trivia?

Twice in the past week, I’ve noticed a bottle of Heinz Ketchup on the table of a restaurant with the words, Up For a Game? Trivial Pursuit Tomato Ketchup.


The good news, Trivial Pursuit Tomato Ketchup tastes the same as the traditional ketchup sold by Heinz, but it also provides an opportunity for bored diners to play a little Trivial Pursuit while waiting for their food to arrive.

For years, Trivial Pursuit cards have been found on the tables at Cheeburger Cheeburger, and while we frequently flipped through the cards asking one another questions, I must admit the cards were pretty disgusting. After being handled by so many other people with not only ketchup hands, but french fry, onion ring, and hamburger hands, a trip to the restroom to wash up before eating was required.

Image 1

The Heinz Ketchup version of Trivial Pursuit eliminates the gross factor while continuing the fun factor for diners with the ability to use their cell phone to scan the QR code on the back of the bottle. It’s pretty simple. Scan the QR code. Enter an email address (but you can opt out of the Heinz product updates and recipes). Start playing either the Family or Regular edition of Trivial Pursuit. After rolling the die a category’s selected and the questions begin like those below.

Science: Where in the human body would you find bones called phalanges?

Entertainment: What pasta dish is a favorite of Garfield the cat?

Sports & Leisure: What boxer coined the term rope-a-dope, a way to block punches while on the ropes?

History: In 2010, what 26 year old did Time Magazine name “Person of the Year”?

Arts & Literature: Who invented the printing press?

Geography: What does a cartographer do?

Some questions are more challenging, but you get the idea. Compete with your dinner companions in a friendly game of trivia while waiting for your food.


Celebrate Earth Day:Shake and Fold

Last May I posted a Ted Talk given by Joe Smith, demonstrating how to use fewer paper towels and reduce paper usage. As a three or four towel user, I became a “shake and fold” convert, and have never used more than one paper towel for the past 365 days. I’m proud to say I’ve made a positive change to reduce paper towel waste.


And since this message changed my behavior, I wanted to share on Earth Day…a good day to shake and fold!

Make One Change for Planet Earth

IMG_4662Tomorrow is Earth Day. A day set aside to mark the anniversary of what’s considered the birth of the modern environmental movement which began in 1970 when groups fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife came together as they recognized they shared common values.

In 1970,  Republicans and Democrats, rich and poor, those in cities as well as rural areas, labor unions and business interests came together for a common goal which resulted in the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Act.

So glad Ocala’s finally embraced recycling.

By 1990 Earth Day went global with over 140 countries recognizing the need to address environmental issues and led to significant recycling efforts.

While there are still many who make changes to protect Earth’s resources, unfortunately, many businesses, lobbyists, and politicians now work to dismantle the positive work from the past 44 years.

With the 45th anniversary of Earth Day one year away, it’s a good time to commit to making one change this year for the health of Earth. There are so many options:

  • Increase recycling efforts
  • Carpool
  • Plant a tree
  • ALWAYS use reusable bags at the grocery instead of plastic
  • Stop drinking bottled water
  • Eat less meat
  • Turn up the AC a degree or two this summer and turn down the heat in the winter
  • Buy less of everything


No more bottled water!
No more bottled water!

I know this is a huge waste of resources as well as money, and how can I continue this practice and then complain about the companies pumping water from the aquifer? I still don’t want to drink the water from the tap, but I’m investing in a water purifier instead of buying the bottled stuff.

What will you do?

Make one change for planet Earth!