Food Pyramid Turned My Pyramid Turned My Plate

Most of us have seen the iconic USDA Food Guide Pyramid at some point. It was first introduced in 1992, was remade in 2005 as My Pyramid, and in 2011 was changed to My Plate. All of these eating guides incorporate the different food groups and try to give us an understanding of how to eat a healthy diet. But have you ever wondered if they are correct? Who wrote them?

What research are they based on? Does profit or the food industry create a bias in these models? Why have they changed? Do you really need to eat 11 servings of grains in a day? Is there really a one size fits all diet? This article will help you understand the answers to all of these questions.

Food Pyramid

THE FOOD GUIDE PYRAMID

The original Food Pyramid was created in 1992 by the United States Department of Agriculture. It became the uncontested model for a “healthy diet” in schools, doctor’s offices, on food labels, and in the media. For more than 20 years, Americans tried to follow this high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet recommended by the Food Pyramid. The results are in, and sadly Americans are sicker and more over weight than ever before in our nation’s history. So what went wrong?

As the Food Pyramid held the power to greatly influence the multibillion dollar food industry, was the original Food Pyramid solely based on nutritional science, or was it was influenced by commercial interests? As more research has been done, it has become clear that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is not optimal for disease prevention. (1)

A diet high in pasteurized dairy and carbohydrates causes inflammation and an overly acidic body pH, which is an underlying factor in almost every chronic disease. (2) It is also clear that many people are allergic to or have a difficult time digesting dairy and grains.

The Healthy Eating Pyramid has six levels. Foods from the six major food groups are shown in the levels of the Pyramid. The food groups are:

  • grains;
  • vegetables;
  • fruits;
  • milk and dairy products;
  • meat, fish, beans and nuts;
  • oils and fats.

File:MyPyramidFood.svg

MY PYRAMID

The 2005 My Pyramid model, which was like the original one turned on its side, was heavily criticized from the beginning as being too confusing and overly vague. The one good thing about this model was that it incorporated exercise as one of the “steps to a healthier you.” However, it still placed grains as the largest source of calories and did not incorporate our need for healthy fats.

With the massive increase in processed foods, this model did not help Americans navigate all of these choices. Many products advertised the number of “whole grains” it contained while being full of refined sugar, food additives, trans fat, genetically modified corn and soy, preservatives, artificial colors and flavorings, and other unhealthy ingredients. (3) A great example of this is breakfast cereals. The idea that Lucky Charms, Coco Puffs or Cinnamon Toast Crunch is a good and healthy breakfast choice—just because it contains whole grains—shows how far off track we’ve gone.

MyPyramid was a visual illustration of suggested healthy eating habits and physical activity. Like its predecessor, the Food Guide Pyramid, MyPyramid combined the government’s dietary guidelines and recommended allowances into six food groups. But instead of illustrating the number of servings based on a one-size-fits-all 2,000 calorie intake, the MyPyramid symbol itself showed six vertical color bands, each representing varying proportions of the pyramid. These colors represented the food groups as follows.

  • Orange for grains
  • Green for vegetables
  • Red for fruits
  • Yellow for oils
  • Blue for milk
  • Purple for meat and beans
  • Fruit Group should provide 4 daily servings, or 2 cups.
  • Vegetable Group should provide 5 servings, or 2.5 cups.
  • Grain Group should provide 6 ounce-equivalents (1 ounce-equivalent means 1 serving), half of which should be whole grain..
  • Meat and Beans Group should provide 5.5 ounce-equivalents or servings.
  • Milk Group should provide 3 cups/servings.
  • Oils should provide 24g or 6 teaspoons.
  • Discretionary Calories: The remaining amount of calories in each calorie level after nutrient-dense foods have been chosen. Up to 267 calories could be consumed in solid fats or added sugars if the other requirements were been met

MyPlate Food Pyramid Replacement

MY PLATE

In 2011, the new “My Plate” was introduced. This is a significant improvement from its predecessors as it is much easier to visualize what it actually means on your plate. My Plate really makes meal planning easier. Just by looking at the icon, you know right away that vegetables and fruits should take up half the plate (with the veggie portion being a bit bigger), and grains and protein foods should take up the other half (with more grains on this side). And with a side helping of dairy, you’re reminded to include milk or another dairy food (like cheese or yogurt) in your daily meal plan.

Because My Plate is a divided plate, no one food group overpowers the others. That’s because dietary guidelines encourage eating a variety of foods and discourage “super-sized” portions which can lead to weight gain and obesity.

Although the food guide icon has changed, the USDA’s message about eating well has stayed the same. Everyone still needs to eat lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, along with lean meats or other forms of protein and low-fat dairy products.

Oils provide important nutrients and are recommended in small amounts but aren’t included on the My Plate icon. Choose oils over solid fats, but limit the amount you eat.

Exercise is also no longer included in the icon, but it’s still an important component of a healthy lifestyle. Everyone should and will benefit from exercise. Starting at 2 years old, kids need at least 60 minutes of moderate to physical activity each day.

Criticisms are that it still does not help us navigate what kinds of foods should be in each category. Before the industrialization of our food supply, these categories were very simple. Now we are bombarded with thousands of choices and new “food products” on the shelves of the supermarket every week.

So what should we eat!? The question, “what is a healthy diet?” seems to still remain once we take a deeper look at the shortcomings of these food models.

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What Every Mom Needs to Know About Insurance

As parents, it’s our responsibility to make sure our kids are cared for. We go out of our way to keep our kids safe, from buying bicycle helmets to Band-Aids to winter coats, right down to holding their hand when they cross the street.

Most of us worry endlessly about our kids’ well-being. I know I do! But as much as we worry about the little things, it’s sometimes easy to let the big things, those risks and dangers that are a little more intangible—slip by ignored or unattended to.

A big part of protecting our kids, as well as securing financial peace, is making sure our families are covered for the big things including natural disasters, an injury or illness, job loss, or worse. Even so, it can sometimes be hard to determine exactly what coverage you need, especially when it seems like most insurance salesmen only want to play on your emotions.

When money is tight, you certainly don’t want to overspend on coverage that you don’t need, but you need be protected from major catastrophe. The best approach is to do your research ahead of time and be aware of the state of your family’s finances before you get a sales pitch.

It is important to remember that it’s not the insurance agency’s role to make sure you’re getting the best deal on insurance. It is up to you to be your own advocate and to get the best rate. Insurance isn’t something you can put on the back burner and just pay each month.

To get the best rates, you must continuously (at least once a year) revisit your insurance policies and do some comparison shopping. Plans and offers are constantly changing to meet the needs of the market. Rates can fluctuate as your family’s needs and situation change as well. Adding another driver, building on an addition to your home, changing your security system, or bringing a new member of your family into the world can all raise insurance questions and call for a little guidance.

There are seven types of insurance that you NEED: Homeowners/Renters, Auto, Health, Disability, Long-Term Care, Identity Theft, and Life.

Other insurances you should consider is also boat, farm and travel.

resizedimage600583-Home-Insurance-Icons

Home

If you’re paying a mortgage, the lender requires homeowner’s coverage, but even if you’re lucky enough to own your home outright, you want to be sure that you’re protected.

For renters, insurance protects your possessions in case of fire, theft and, in some cases, flood. Renters insurance is often thought of as optional, but as a parent, you must cover yourself in case of tragedy. Renters insurance is often really quite inexpensive (less than $20/month!) and it’s very important if you have big-ticket items that might be difficult to replace, such as audio equipment, collectables, exercise gear, televisions and appliances. Take inventory of your household and make a list of those larger items that could be damaged or stolen, and would result in major financial hardship if you’d have to replace them.

There are several ways to save on homeowner and renter’s insurance. You can raise your deductible, combine policies and do some home improvements and emergency preparations to raise the protection level on your home. Improvements to home security can also help you save, as can new windows, doors, and extreme weather protection.

Auto

 When we think insurance, auto insurance is often the first thing that comes to mind. Driving is possibly the highest risk activity that any of us do almost every day, and we all know the importance of having liability coverage. In many states, it’s now illegal to operate a vehicle without liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility.

In our litigious society, unfortunately, coverage is mandatory to protect yourself from financial ruin in case of an accident or driving mistake. One moment can change your life and the life of another driver forever. Trust me, your mind will be at ease when you know you’re protected.

When it comes to auto insurance, the value of your vehicle is important when you’re determining the amount of coverage and type of insurance you need. If your car is in its twilight years, you may feel comfortable with less coverage or just liability. If you have a newer car (or if you’re paying off a car loan), you need to have full coverage to keep your investment safe.

There are several other ways to save on car insurance. Shop around, compare rates, and don’t become too loyal to just one agency or provider. There are good driver discounts, multiple car discounts, and even good grade programs for driving teens and students. Installing safety upgrades or attending defensive driving courses can also help lower your monthly payments and save you when it comes to paying for coverage.

family health insurance coverage

Health

Health insurance is so important. As parents, we know we must take children to the doctor for regular checkups. We also know that serious health issues can come out of nowhere, and without coverage they can leave households financially devastated. For the many of us just surviving in todays middleclass, we make enough to pay all our bills, not enough for the extras, and too much for any assistance such as government plan health insurance such as Medicaid, family health plus and their attached HMO plans.

Many employers offer health insurance at a cost which also requires deductibles and co-pays, but if yours does not, or if you’re independently employed, private insurance providers are available. Under the Affordable Care Act, you may qualify for low-cost coverage based on your income. Keep in mind though, low-cost means anywhere from $200-$400 per person a month with deductibles and co-pays which is low cost for health insurance.

Consider a Health Savings Account and/or a high deductible plan to save the most. An HSA can save families thousands of tax-free dollars every year, which you can use toward your deductible, so your monthly premium will be lower. You can use your HSA for prescriptions, and depending on the plan, eye exams and preventative care.

Disability

Disability insurance should cover 65% of your income, and most employers offer disability coverage. It’s often something that’s overlooked, but one in seven workers will face a disability before retirement.

You should be sure your disability insurance is long-term. My personal opinion is that you should have 3–6 months of expenses saved up, which would cover your needs in the case of a short-term or minor disability. It’s the long-term scenarios that you should plan for. Most disabilities (90%) are not covered by worker’s comp or social security.

The effects of a disability can financially ruin a family if you’re not properly prepared. Many workers facing disabilities can be out of work for three years or more. Consider what would happen to your family should they face an unforeseen accident or tragedy that leaves you unable to work.

Long-Term Care

As a parent, long-term care is not necessarily something that’s on any of our minds, but it’s a necessity for anyone over age 60. If your parents cannot afford long-term care insurance, this may be something you want to consider.

Consider the scenario of a parent who is facing a condition like dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, and requires long-term care. This situation can quickly eat up your parents’ retirement savings and even dip into your own savings and accounts. Those who qualify for Medicaid will receive some assistance, but it often leaves patients with limited options and plans for complete care.

As you near your 60s, long-term care should be on your horizon and part of your post-retirement financial plan. It’s a way to make sure you don’t financially burden your children or spouse and ensures you won’t leave them unable to make ends meet.

Identity Theft

If you’ve never faced the horror in dealing with having your identity stolen, then consider yourself very lucky. With data breaches on the rise among major retailers, it seems like everyone is at risk. Identity theft can cost you big-time in terms of time, money, effort, and just general headaches. In a worst-case scenario, identity theft can damage your credit and make recovery very difficult—even if you’re an innocent victim.

Part of your insurance portfolio should include identity theft protection. You should be sure it includes an identity restoration service that can fix the damage and get your identity restored and safe once again. Teaching your family good identity-safety habits such as limiting your exposure online and protecting your passwords can help protect you as well, but should the worst happen, insurance will be a lifesaver.

Long Island Insurance Company

Life

Life insurance can be a little confusing. The general rule of thumb is you need term, not whole life. Cash value insurance can sound like a great way to invest and save money, but truth be told, it doesn’t offer high returns at all and generally is a poor performing product.

Term life insurance, on the other hand, is a way to cover yourself until you’re debt free and in a position to invest. It offers a way to help your spouse or children settle your estate and survive in relative comfort should something happen to you.

Term life insurance can help you cover burial costs and the costs of paying off your debt, plus further support of your family, particularly if you’re the sole breadwinner.

Facing uncertain scenarios in life is always unsettling, but having the proper insurance coverage can ease your mind and allow you to sleep a little easier at night. Look into the faces of your children and think of all the ways you would love to keep them safe. Insurance is one of the most simple, practical, and logical ways to protect your loved ones. 

Week 2 of Budget 101

PART TWO: MAKE A BUDGET

It’s been a week.  How’s that no-spending thing going? Well, here’s the good news:  You can start spending money again.  Of course the bad news is that after today’s assignment, you might not want to. Hopefully last week’s exercise started you thinking about the reasons WHY you’re spending and also got you to start making a serious distinction between the things you WANT and the things you NEED.

(NOTE: If you are new to “Through The Eyes Of I” or missed out last week, you might want to start at Budget 101 Part 1: STOP SPENDING before starting this week’s assignment!)

Before we go any further, I want to make a quick but important distinction that just because something is a “WANT” instead of a “NEED” doesn’t make it wrong or bad. It’s okay to want a pretty comfortable house with all the amenities, vacations or cute shoes. What’s not okay is to want all those things at the expense of your financial well-being,  your marriage, relationships, your children or anything else that we know is more important than stuff. It’s okay to WANT, but not to GET if you are not at a stable financial stance to do so. ***Don’t go on vacation, then come back and not pay your electric and gas bills. Don’t go out shopping with your friends and then go and tell your family you’re struggling*** If you are not struggling with your spending or find that you have plenty of money leftover for your savings, life & retirement accounts at the end of the month, have no trouble paying all your bills on time, know exactly where all your money is going, have great credit and don’t stress out over unforeseen expenses, then you probably don’t need to be reading this series.  In fact, you probably could write it better than me because you are obviously doing something right. I have multiple bills including a retirement and savings account, life, funeral and health insurances that I pay towards monthly, and I don’t have school or credit debt so I say I am pretty financially stable BUT…… most of us, including I struggle with money or budgeting, at least in some area. Believe me when I tell you there is plenty of room for improvement. This week’s assignment is going to require a little more effort.   The hard truth is that no one can fix your budget for you.  There are no magic solutions or ten-minute fixes that will have permanent results.  Improving your financial outlook will require change, and change is HARD.  Do it anyway.

As I tell my stepson, never neglect to do something just because it is hard, because it is the things you work hardest for that will reward you the most. Don’t let fear stop you either. It can be very scary to open up the Pandora’s box otherwise known as your finances, especially if you’ve been turning a blind eye.  In some ways, ignorance is bliss.  But if you’re still reading up to this point, you probably know, deep down, that this is something you need to do.  Take a deep breath, muster up your courage, and just do it.  You’ll be better for it. And now that the pep talk is over, it is time to get down to business:

HERE IS THIS WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT:

                      CLICK TO DOWNLOAD MY PERSONAL BUDGET WORKSHEET

1. Assess your income and fixed expenses

Print out the nifty budget worksheet above, then grab your bank statements, your bills, your check register, & any other financial information you can think of.  A calculator might come in handy too.  Then grab a glass of wine, sit down (with your spouse if your married), and start crunching the numbers.  Use worksheet number one to list all your sources of income, as well as all those key fixed payments you MUST make each month

Use worksheet #2 to add up all the subtotals of your fixed expense categories, then subtract that total from your income.  The remaining number is what you really have to work on creating a budget for.
In the coming weeks, we will work on finding ways to lower both your fixed AND variable expenses, but we need a place to start from, and this is it.

2.  Create a budget for your variable expenses

Use a pencil to fill in each category with what you are currently paying each month, then add up your subtotals and see how it compares to the number you are shooting for.  Then go back and lower different categories as necessary.  Obviously some things, like your water and electric, won’t be adjustable, but other things can probably be cut significantly.   Include SOMETHING in your savings budget, even if it is just a small amount.  If you have credit card payments, include those in your household expenses as well.

3. Take some time to self-reflect

This step may be the hardest, but it is also the most important.  Complete worksheet #4 and make some concrete decisions and goals based on what you’ve discovered through this budgeting exercise.

Maybe you’ve realized it is time to cut up your credit cards, or, at the very least, put them on ice. (Fill a bowl with water, put your credit cards in, and freeze.  If nothing else, it will slow you down!)  Maybe you’re ready to start packing a lunch instead of going out or to give up cable.  What you spend your money on is a very personal decision that only you can determine for yourself (or with your spouse.)

4. Track your spending

The last page of the PDF packet is an expense tracker.  Print out as many as you need, and use it to keep track of everything you spend.  At the end of each day, and then again at the end of each week, go over your expenses to make sure you are staying on track.  The more frequently you “check in,” the less likely you will be to let your spending get out of control.  Little things add up quickly!

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Whew, what a week!  I know this probably seems like a lot, but please don’t give up on me!  I promise it will be worth it in the end, and your bank account will thank you.  Stay tuned for another riveting installment next Sunday and remember, I want to hear from you!  How did your first week of the challenge go?  What did you learn about yourself or your budget?
Keep in mind, once again, that I am not a financial expert.  You are welcome to use these worksheets to help you–they are what make sense to me–but there are lots of other budgeting books, worksheets, & software available that might work for you better

About Budget 101

My goal for this series is to guide you through a series of assignments intended to put you on a sounder financial footing.  Basically it is eight weeks to a better budget. It is my personal guide, a beginners budget 101. Each week we will tackle one specific area for us to work on, and then complete assignments related to that segment of our financial life. Keep in mind, just as anything you need to do in life, following this series will take some effort & commitment on your part. There are many ways to budget your financial life, and this is the blood, sweat, & tears edition. Okay, well maybe no blood 🙂 Every Sunday will mark a new week towards a better budget. Come join me and save! Click on Budget 101 in the menu scale, and use the drop down to view the series by week.

Disclaimers: 

  • I am not a financial expert or certified financial planner.  I have degrees in business administration, criminal and business law, have studied accounting, and am a certified tax preparer and tutor.  I have no credentials whatsoever beyond my own experience to qualify me for teaching anyone about saving money.  There are plenty of money experts out there who could probably explain this stuff far better than me, and some I will even refer you to.  My only goal here is to try to break down the scary world of budgets and saving into manageable bites.  Yes, this is the baby steps guide to saving. This is my personal guide, and it has worked for me.

Week 1 of Budget 101

Welcome to My Beginner’s Guide to Saving!

My goal for this series is to guide you through a series of assignments intended to put you on sounder financial footing.  Basically it is eight weeks to a better budget. Being that you are reading this, you are starting a lifestyle to a better you, and  better financial situation.

Part One: Stop Spending!!!

Saving is not easy. We live in a crazy consumer driven “have to have it” society, where the latest electronics, cars, fashions and cars are constantly being promoted; and we are made to feel like we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest or the best.  The sheer quantity of stuff available to purchase at any given time is pretty much a bottomless pit.  There is always more, more more! So we want and spend more, more, more!

So what’s a girl (or boy) to do?

Well, it’s pretty simple really:  STOP. BUYING. STUFF.

At least in theory it is simple…….

In practice, it is sooooo much harder……

Our reasons for spending money on stuff we don’t need are plentiful and varied.  It makes us feel good.  We want to look better.  We want our house to be pretty.  We want what everyone else has.  It’s fun.  We’re bored.  We’re lonely.  We want people to like us better.  We want to be “ahead of the curve.” We’re “tech junkies”.  We can’t pass up a “good deal.” We think we might need it someday.  The sales pitch worked.  We’re stressed.  We’re trying to fill a void.  It was on sale.  We’re addicted to Starbucks, tobacco, scrapbooking, shoes, video games, books, fun, etc.

Sound familiar?

The truth is that whatever the reason, much of what we spend our money on is unnecessary, a want rather than a need.  I need to eat, but I want to drink my Keurig K-Cups coffee every day. I need to wear shoes, but I want to have dozens of pairs in every color and style imaginable. I want to get my hair done, but I have student loans and bills I need to pay. I want to take dance classes, but I need to pay for health insurance every month (why is insurance so much anyways?…347.00 a month!)  😦  So much for AFFORDABLE in Affordable Care Act.

It is so very important to realize the distinction between what we think we need and what we actually need. But its not an issue of wants Vs. needs, but wants Vs. Priorities.

It is the first critical step on the path to savings.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should never spend money on anything, and live an austere and boring life, void of pretty things, entertainment or yummy coffee drinks.

But for the sake of this series, we are going to start by curbing all spending so that down the road we can figure out how to get those things we want in a way that fits our budget.

Which brings me to this week’s assignment:

1.  Stop spending!

Try to go these next seven days without spending money on anything except what is absolutely necessary, as in matter-of-survival necessary.  No clothes, no candy, no quick stops at McDonalds, no craft supplies, no nothing.  Don’t worry, it’s only a week.  You won’t die.  I promise. It is a great way to get your budget back on track in a hurry!

2.  Make a list of wants and needs

Spend your time reflecting on all the things you spend money on in a months time, and divide those things into a “needs” list (i.e.  I need to pay rent, pay utility bills, pay health and life insurance bills, buy food, make car and insurance payment, etc.) and a “wants” list (cable, , Starbucks, etc.)

  •  Don’t just make a mental list.  Sit down and physically write down every single thing you can think of that you spend money on, from the mundane to the major.

3. Get inspired

Read a few financial articles to get yourself motivated.  It will give you something to do while you’re trying not to spend money.

4.  Find new (free) ways to fill your time

Think long and hard about the reasons you spend money frivelously.  If you are using shopping as a way to fill a void in your life then you need to seriously explore other hobbies that don’t cost anything.  Go to the library and check out some new books, make it your mission to explore every park in a 20 mile radius, set a goal of organizing every closet and cupboard in your house by the end of the summer, or better yet, have a yard sale and make some money off the things that you already have that you don’t need.

I think the thing that surprised me the most when I stopped spending money out of boredom was how much more creative I became.  The world is full of free activities. You just have to look a little harder.

And that’s it for this week!  Stay tuned for another riveting installment next Sunday and remember, I want to hear from you!  If you’ve decided to take this 8 week challenge, or if you have any ideas for fun free activities you’d like to share, please leave a comment below.  Saving money is so much more fun when you have someone to share it with.
Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Don’t Sign That Lease Yet

When looking for a living rental, whether being an apartment, loft or house; you may have a lot lingering in your head such as, questions, expectations, plans and maybe even excitement or stress. Perhaps you’re excited about turning your new place into a home and decorate (which is my favorite), or you are nervous about your move. No matter what your situation, when shopping for living rentals, the most important thing you must do is to thoroughly study your lease before signing it. Aside from reviewing the lease, always ask your landlord or apartment manager questions about renting, or about any other aspect of life in your perspective new dwelling. He or she should be helpful and must address all your queries, and more importantly, put what you’ve discussed into writing in case you have to return back to it for reference. Whatever you do, always read your lease, and don’t adjourn it for after you sign it.

Image result for read lease first

So, what are some important questions to ask when looking at rentals before signing a lease???

  • How much is the rent?
    • Questions about rent cost are very basic yet very crucial, as the apartment must fit your budget of course. You may be able to even negotiate a change in the rents price, but some landlords are settled for what they want to rent their property for. Keep in mind that it may send a red flag that you may have difficulties in paying your rent if you ask to lower the price.
  • When is the rent due?
    • Usually rent is due on the first of every month, but it may be different due to your move in date. Sometimes an extension is available, so ask if there is one, and if there is interest or a fee attached to your late payment.
  • What is the length of the lease?
    • Some leases are month to month, every half year or yearly. If you are renting a room, a lease is normally weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or yearly. It is also important to be aware of what happens when your lease is up since some landlords do renew the lease, and some may just void it and allow the tenant to stay as long as they continue to pay their rent.
  • Under what circumstances can I break the lease?
    • Some landlords allow their tenants to break their lease once they prove that they have been relocated for work or have purchased a house, keep in mind that not all do. Some landlords or agencies may even allow you to break your lease due do crime such as a burglary. A few years ago, my apartment was robbed while I was at school, and my landlord allowed me to break my year lease since I was worried I may be targeted again because I was barely home and lived by myself. Leases can also be broken if the landlord does not keep their end of the bargain as well.
  • Which utilities am I responsible for?
    • Utilities make a big impact in apartment costs, so be sure to gather as much information about them as possible. If you are responsible for electricity, heat, trash and/or water, you want to make sure you can afford those payments within your budget. If utilities are included, you should know if there are any limitations. Some places have a set thermostat with a limit temperature and timer included when heat is included.
  • What is the cost of the utilities for the apartment I would like to rent?
    • To help budget your cost, ask the property owner what is the normal monthly rate for utilities. If he or he is unaware, you have the ability to call your local utility companies, and request an estimate based upon the past usage of previous tenants.

Image result for utility cost

  • Is the heating electric or gas?
    • Generally it is cheaper to heat water with gas than with electric. Electricity costs about four times as much as natural gas for the same amount of heat. If a dwelling is heated by electricity, it’s especially important to call the utility company to find out about past electric bills at that address.
  • Who is responsible for hot water?
    • Sometimes the landlord pays for hot water, and sometimes tenants pay. Hot water is often the second biggest part of your utility bill, so it’s important to ask this question before renting. Again, call the utility company to find out what past gas and electric bills have been for that address.
  • Am I provided with cable, satellite service or internet?
    • Some places include internet with a monthly limit of GB usage while cable may only include only certain channels.
  • Who is in charge of yard work?
    • Some rentals include yard work such as snow plowing, and mowing of grass as well as bush trimming in the rent. Not all rentals include these services and it is the tenants responsibility to care for the properties yard. My rent includes all yard work, except my own personal gardening of course 🙂

Image result for street parking signs

  • What is the parking situation?
    • This is a very important question if you own a car. Check if you will be provided with your own parking spot, and ask whether your guests can use other parking spaces when they visit your place. If there are no off street parking spaces available, it’s good to know where parking on the street is available, the distance from there to your dwelling, as well as the city/town laws in regard to parking on the street. Some cities have alternating parking days while others may not.
  • Can I make improvements in the apartment?
    • We sometimes may not like how the sink or shower spits out water, and may want to change faucets. Check and see if there is anything in the dwelling that you would like to have changed, and see if you can change it. Some landlords may even deduct from your rent if you show proof of cost for your efforts.
  • Can I re-paint or hang décor?
    • This is important as well. You might have found the perfect location, but what if its walls are painted in a dreadful color? Some landlords will allow you to re-paint while others won’t. Some rentals also will not allow to have anything hanging on the walls due to the potential damage from drilling holes or hammering nails. Details about redesigning should be included in the lease.
  • Is there a lot of noise? Are there rules to noise?
    • If noise is a huge issue for you, you better make sure you know if other tenants or neighbors make a lot of it. If you are one who creates the noise, ask what are the limits, and if it will be a problem. You have to show neighbors respect no matter where you move. Having company shouldn’t be an issue, but when it’s loud company, it can be.
  • Can I have pets?
    • Ask about the pet policies. Each place will have its own set of rules and regulations about pet ownership. Some will allow pets while others won’t. Some communities are very particular and will even look into a pet’s breed type and weight. Additional security deposits may apply for your pet, and you should be aware, just as the landlord should be aware of your pet’s presence.
  • Can I sublease?
    • In some rentals, you will be allowed to take in a roommate or perhaps, add another name to the lease after moving in. Make sure this option is available in case you are in need for the extra help with expenses or just want to help out a family or friend.

When looking at rentals and asking questions, try to think in both the long and short term. There are lots of rentals out there, and asking the right questions is key to choosing the best one for you.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

7 Awesome Charities To Donate To This Year

Click on the links I provided below the video to Donate

Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Generosity.org

March Of Dimes

Ryes Center

VH1 Save The Music

Make A Wish

Don’t Always Baby Your Baby

Don’t Always Baby Your Baby

It is not what you do for your children but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings

Good parents realize that there is always much more for them to learn about in regards to being “good parents”. In a perfect world, parents would all have boundless energy, patience, knowledge, tolerance, understanding and flexibility, but no one is perfect. There is so much more to being a parent than just putting them to sleep, feeding them and buying their necessities. It also includes having a wide variety of practical skills in which more than majority of parents aren’t equipped with to have the ability to inquire, or even have the knowledge of the skill’s being, let alone their importance and affects.

When it comes to my stepson,  or my own future biological children….it is not my job — and it is certainly not anyone else’s — to prevent them from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job or anyone else’s to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

  • I don’t want my children to learn that they can’t overcome obstacles without help.
  • I don’t want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort.
  • I don’t want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that’s holding them back and EARN it.
  • I want my children to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success.
  • I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions.
  • I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.
  • I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.
  • I want them to climb that ladder on the slide without any help, because they can. I know it. If I give them a little space, they will soon know it too.

Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and scarier, and much more difficult to climb. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather help them learn the skills they’ll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, “I think I can” to “I know I can” to “I did it”

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

A Blog For My Step Son

This article is based on the free eBook

My nine year old stepson Felix is filled with creativity, quite more than energy, but I love that he has a creative side. We spoke  about starting a blog made by him for other kids who share similar interest or just like to explore into other thoughts and ideas, but we have yet to begin one. Im thinking of allowing him to express freely to the free world about random subjects or stories that comes to his mind including recipes and crafts. Of course I’ll  be monitoring his sharing and interaction with others, but maybe an audience greater than our household would give him more initiative to use and share his creativity in writing format as well as also help him with his computer, syncing, coding and writing skill. For all my fellow wordpress artist and writers, like this post if you believe a child should be able to create thier own site and blog , but even better, leave a comment with ideas or thoughts you have towards this subject or ideas about what he should blog about.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

X-out E-Cig Reliance

X-out E-Cig Reliance

vapor

The terrible health and social consequences of being a smoker are convincing more and more people to make the switch to smoking electronic, or e cigarettes. E cigarettes provide smokers with a means to avoid the agonies associated with nicotine withdrawal, without the harmful side effects caused by tobacco usage. Unlike using snuff, chewing tobacco, pipes, cigars, or other ways to obtain nicotine without smoking cigarettes, e cigarettes completely free former smokers from the toxic and carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke. Within a few weeks of switching to e cigarettes, smokers find that they stop coughing, regain lung capacity, and generally feel much healthier. Even though the carcinogenic effects disappear, the carcinogen matter doesn’t. A recent study claimed hidden high levels of the carcinogen formaldehyde were found in e-cigs, potentially increasing lifetime cancer risk by 5 to 15 percent.

People using, or considering using electronic cigarettes should acknowledge that they are not healthy for you. Using them entails inhaling a highly addictive, somewhat toxic compound – nicotine – into your lungs. Hence, just like cigarettes are highly addictive, so are electronic cigarettes. As a result, all of the side effects associated with nicotine use are associated with electronic cigarette use.

That said, electronic cigarettes are certainly preferable to traditional tobacco products, because even if they contain nicotine and entail its side effects, they do not contain the thousands of other toxic compounds in tobacco that cause other health issues. For instance, nicotine, on its own, is not known to be a carcinogen. This means that nicotine alone does not cause cancers; the many other tobacco compounds found in cigarette smoke, as well as additives that cigarette manufacturers add, cause cancers. Cigarettes contain over 4000 chemicals, including 43 known cancer-causing carcinogenic compounds and 400 other toxins.

Chemicals in a Cigarette

So, though electronic cigarettes are admittedly, somewhat negative for your health, it seems that they are far less risky or unhealthy than using tobacco. Some doctors and researchers even suggest that switching from tobacco use to e cigarettes is an effective implementation of a strategy known in the medical world as “harm reduction”.

The idea behind harm reduction is that though addiction (such as that of a smoker’s to nicotine) and other issues will lead some people to participate in behavior that is detrimental to their health, that these people should be encouraged to engage in those behaviors that are of the least harm to themselves and others as possible. Harm reduction only reduces, but does not cure nor put an end to habit.

 

Therefore, a smoker switching to e cigarettes does not help he individual quit the habit of smoking or addiction to the nicotine or tobacco, but ONLY represents harm reduction for two reasons:

  • It minimizes the smoker’s exposure to toxic and carcinogenic compounds while satisfying their physiological and psychological cravings for nicotine.
  • The switch to e cigarettes also reduces the health impact that smoking has on bystanders near a smoker.

while a smoker will pollute the air around them with side stream and second-hand smoke, a person using an e cigarette inhales harmful products, but exhales a harmless vapor that dissipates nearly instantly. Though this vapor looks like smoke, it is odorless, and contains none of the chemicals that are so harmful in secondhand smoke via cigarettes. As a result, bystanders have nothing to worry about whenever someone smoking an e cigarette is nearby. If more people switch to e cigarettes, the negative public health effects of secondhand smoke will be reduced, but the harm done to its host and addiction does not completely disappear.

 

Smoke by gorky

The nicotine that is contained within electronic cigarettes is known to have certain side effects. But first, a few facts about nicotine: first, it is highly toxic. Doses over 30 mg have the potential to be fatal to human beings, who have a fairly low nicotine tolerance (however, ingesting this much nicotine at once would require smoking at least a pack of cigarettes simultaneously, affixing dozens of nicotine patches to the body at once, or drinking the fluid from e cigarettes – as a result, death by nicotine poisoning, like many other substances, is a very difficult thing to achieve by accident). In the lower doses that are administered by tobacco products (measured in single milligrams), nicotine has various effects. It is a mild stimulant, and like most stimulants, it affects the cardiovascular system. It elevates heart rate, and constricts the blood vessels in the body. As a result, the use of nicotine is strongly related to the development of heart disease, high blood pressure, and vascular diseases. Given that coronary heart disease is the leading cause of death of people within the United States, this is certainly a serious concern to be aware of.

In addition to nicotine, the liquid that is used by e cigarettes contains two or more other compounds: the base compound (propylene or vegetable glycol), and one or more food flavoring compounds (which give the vapor a flavor). The base compound, usually propylene glycol, is listed by the United States Food and Drug administration as a compound “generally recognized as safe” for use in products that humans use. Hence, it’s used in foods, medicines, cosmetics, and other products quite regularly without ill effects. The food flavor compounds used are the same compounds that one would find in candies and other processed food products on a regular basis, and as a result, are recognized as safe. Neither is known to cause side effects.

So regardless of the much popularity amongst potential quitting smokers, electronic cigarettes are not intended to be used as a smoking cessation aid. Some people find that it is helpful to kick the tobacco habit before working on kicking the nicotine habit so don’t expect to rely on E-cigs to do the job of quitting smoking. Cigarettes may have been an addiction you are fighting to quit, but E-cigs can become your next.  X-out E-Cig reliance.

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Samantha Jonas-Rongo

My Every Day Dillema

PROUD TO BE NATIVE AMERICAN, AFRICAN AMERICAN AND NIGERIAN

Genocide-Slavery

lol they don't start speaking spanish to me but they do assume I'm hispanic

Seriously my situation, no one ever guesses im black and white its always hispanic they think I am until they see my dad

Even after I explain my ethnicity, people still assume I speak Spanish. I have even been told that I should  because even “Puerto Ricans”, “Dominicans” and “Cubans” stem from African, European, Native American and Spanish roots and Spanish is their native language. Well, I’m not Puerto Rican, Cuban nor Dominican and neither is anyone in my bloodline of my ancestry. I do not have Spanish nor European roots and no one on my mothers Native American side speaks Spanish and neither does anyone from my father’s African American and Nigerian side, so I’m unable to speak Spanish to benefit your racist stereotypical expectations. I’m proud to be a Native, Nigerian and African American.

You want to fix racism, start in the mirror.

BASED UPON WHO BUILT THIS COUNTRY, LOOKS AS THOUGH I AM A TRUE AMERICAN.

-Samantha Jonas-Rongo

I Am a Mother, Accept It

I Am a Mother, Accept It

A mother is a mother; is a mother. I don’t care if she gives birth, adopts, fosters, or is co-parenting her boyfriend’s/ fiancé’s/ husband’s kid(s) with his kids’ mother.

Giving birth immediately makes a woman a mother, a bio mother, but not necessarily a parent. A mother, yes, this is biological destiny, a religious blessing, and simple anatomy science. This is fact. It does not matter if she is not raising her child. It does not matter if she does not play any significant role in the child’s life at all. It does not matter who she is or what she does for a living or how much money she has or what her IQ is. The fact that she gave birth is indisputable. It makes her a biological mother, but not a parent.

Adopting or fostering makes one a mother and a parent. You have a legal document that says so. You are doing the mothering, parenting and the loving. You are building a relationship and a history with your child. You are a mom.

Mom is in the term “step-mom”.  Again, you are building a relationship, and a history with a child, or children, they’re your child, your children.

I am a mom as well. I didn’t give birth to any, but I am a mother, accept it.

To those many woman in my shoes or alike, that’s loving, providing for and protecting a child or children that’s not theirs, you are a mother to that child or children, regardless of their bio moms availability, relationship or opinion. In your heart, as well as the child(ren)s, their father’s, maybe mother’s (depending on your sexual preference), you do have a role without boundaries, because your love has none. Don’t believe you have a place that is limited or a role that is minimum, you loving a child that’s not yours is normal, not weird. A woman who’s says its weird is a woman who has the inability to do it herself.

When another woman takes place in a childs life, this woman is automatically a bad character in too many mothers eye’s. Some even take it to the extent to share that opinion with their child(ren). She now becomes topic in conversation amongst a mother’s conversation with her family and friends, but majority of the time, a jealous, classless and even coniving woman makes it a negative one almost everytime. Some are even caught in lies when others from her party try to intervene.

It’s still a valid question to ask why do many woman say they want to know who’s around their child(ren), but do not take the time to learn about them woman to woman. She may say she wants to see if she’s a good person, but when she finds the good, its not shared amongst her circle, but she rather negatively discuss her and even tease her flaws. Most likely because that other woman is a better woman, and may even make a better mother. In the end, from the very beginning, a mother can continue to show that the only negative woman involved in that child’s life is the actual mother herself with her rude comments, disrespectful, and even violent demeanor towards the woman she expects to be of high value to be good enough for her child(ren).

 

Why does it feel like some bio-moms need to make it a war, or a competition? Someone always has to be the loser, and the other the winner. Or another woman has to be trying to take over instead of working with. Some women and their “territory”, it’s sad. A child isn’t property. A child is human aren’t they? Aren’t people, people, and not ones property?

Why must a woman be able to accept another woman as a mother figure, and even call them mom, ma or say they are “like” or “are” their mom, but when it comes to their own child(ren), no other woman can be that to them? Why must she ask her child(ren) if the other woman makes them call her mom? Or even tell their child(ren) never to call her mom? Eventually the child(ren) will realize that his or her neighbors, celebrity idols, friends, and other family members call another woman mom or ma and realize it is normal, and not a crime. Thus, he or she will then realize how selfish, immature and even jealous their mother is or was, and will call that other woman ma or mom at their own will.

shooting-star-tattoo-1

What many of us woman need to understand is, is that woman who do act like that, are woman who do not have the ability or willingness to love, and nurture a child that is not their own, and maybe one that is as well. She cannot be with a man who has children Of his own nor take care of a child or children who isn’t hers and provide that child with what One needs emotionally and spiritualy to grow healthy and happy.

You’re a mother. She’s a mother. You’re a mother. I’m a mother, accept it.

How does a child have the ability to have a step-father, or simply have a man around and involved, who’s not their father, in their life, but another woman can’t step foot near or have time spent with them and a step mom is of nonexistence and is treated as a crime? I’m confused.

Be glad that a child of yours has extra love and guidance in their life. Even though you may have used, or use your child(ren) as pawns, doesn’t mean that “house” is a game that another woman plays with your child(ren) as its pieces.

“This is MY child”, “These are MY kids”, an unconfident or threatened woman would reply or start a conversation with. Obviously the other woman didn’t give birth, you did, so that is not needed to be mentioned. You aren’t proving a point of who’s the mother, or that you are the one in control, you’re showing how weak, threatened and unconfident you are as a woman, as a mother.

A woman who shows that persona when it comes to her own, and shows her over protectiveness to a man that has children himself, shows that his children will never be priority nor good enough to be considered her own and therefore, that relationship nor any other will work. It scares and turns off a man, its shows far off from being a loving woman and a mature mother.

It is crazy and completely irrational, but one may think another woman is trying to take her kid(s) from her, or that their kid(s) would like the other woman better and wish she were their mom instead. A not so great mother with a guilty conscience or unconfident woman feels her motherhood has been threatened or questioned, like perhaps she was being judged and maybe she has been discovered as not a good enough parent. But, a great and confident mother would know better, and therefore would do better.

Love is what makes a mother, not just biological science or spiritual religion.

Whether our children are biological, adopted, fostered, step or spiritual, love is what gives us that role of influence in another’s life. We are mothers because we love, and love is paired, so often and necessarily, with sacrifice.

Having a heart doesn’t make you compassionate any more than having a brain makes you intelligent. You had the tools to create a child as any woman does, but that doesn’t mean you have the correct priorities or guidance to raise one. Some woman, and their so-called “motherly love, fight and awareness”, it’s sad and even sadder of the lack of knowledge and commitment some have to fulfill the role of a positive, rational and loving mother.

Good mothers set a high enough bar of being ones mother and a confident and mature mother would not be in fear of losing the role she loved and valued so much. If she knew she was doing the job correctly, there would be nothing to fear, only something to gain, the additional love that her child(ren) would endure. And being a mother involves sacrificing your own pride for your child(ren)’s emotional well-being and allowing your child to love another.

Love and sacrifice.

The love we give, and the sacrifices us woman make for the love we give is what makes us mothers. Its about what our child(ren) needs, not what we want. I will be dressed in rags before I keep my stepson, well my son, away from what pleases him. He wants to do martial arts, my hair appointments will now take place in my own bathroom. He needs extra support with school work, I will adjust my schedule. He wants to spend more time with me, my nights out come to an end. He is the son of my fiancé, I am the fiancé of his father. In the same, I am a mother, he is my son. He’s not a part of my biological DNA, but we are both major key parts in each other’s positive emotional well-being, spiritual world and life in whole.

It was love that led Christ to come to earth, and it was love that led him to, and through the cross. As women made in his image, we are called to love and serve those in our care, whether they are our physical or spiritual children. But truly loving and sacrificing for others is costly, in small and large ways. And in this way, it is Love that makes us mothers. We need not be biological mothers to fulfill the role.

I am a mother, accept it.

– Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Choosing A Tie

 

If you take a step back, the whole idea of neckties seems pretty silly. It’s a piece of cloth that men tie around their necks.  It doesn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason, and men sometimes use this pretense to avoid wearing one.

Men in ancient times, from Rome to China to Egypt, couldn’t resist tying a piece of cloth around their necks. And it was the cravats worn by the Croatian mercenaries of the 30 Years War that really transformed the tie into a popular and widespread accessory. So while we may never be able to know the reason why, it’s indisputable that men have always felt a little manlier with something slung around their throat. There’s just something about neckties that make a man look powerful, assertive, and put together.

There is definitely an art to creating and picking out a proper necktie. A necktie can say a lot about you and convey your personality to others. When picking out a tie, consider the following factors to ensure you make a good purchase.

This guide is based upon personal preference, but may be used as your personal reference. For the larger man, I understand that finding a tie may be a difficult task, but if in need of one, visit the Long Tie Shop.

  •  A Tie Is the First Thing People Notice
    “Nice tie!” That’s always what people say. Their eyes can’t help but go there. So while you do want a tie that looks great all on its own, remember, it shouldn’t be a novelty piece. It’s meant to speak to the rest of your outfit, not stand apart from or clash with it.
  • Length Matters
    Whether you’re six feet four or five feet six, the tip of the tie should hit right at your beltline— not three inches below it, not two inches above it. That is, unless you’re doing the whole short-suit thing. And then, yes, let the tie hang tight above the navel.
  • And So Does Width

As many woman do, I prefer a skinny tie over a wide one. I buy my husband ties that are about two and a quarter to two and three-quarter inches at its widest point. Much wider than that and you start to look like a congressman. This thinner width works both at the office and on the town, syncing up with any modern-cut suit.

  • Keep It Solid
    I love a vibrantly striped repp tie or a boldly patterned club tie. But you’re not going to see much in the way of dizzying paisleys or loud wallpaper prints. I’m not into ties as conversation pieces. A tie should anchor an outfit, reaching for solid or subtly patterned ties. They ground a busy shirt like a plaid or a gingham, and they stand strong against a crisp white or pale pink. They’re fail-safe

  • The Essential Can’t-Go-Wrong Tie Wardrobe
    I’m not saying you shouldn’t own more than five ties, but if you owned only these, you’d be set for every outfit and every occasion.

See photo above: From left to right:

Wool
In the middle of winter, you’ll want a tie to pair with your heavier-weight suits.

Solid Black
For formalwear occasions, for a gray suit with a white shirt, or for a leather or jean jacket. Exceptionally versatile.

Pin-Dot
Like a polka-dot, but much smarter and more subtle.

Club
Any tie with a repeating logo. Once just for the Ivy League set, now for anyone with serious style.

Repp
Still a Capitol Hill staple, but now cut skinny for the cool kids, too.

  • Get All Accu-Weathery and Match Your Tie to the Seasons
    You should think of your tie as a way to fit in with the seasons, like wearing white jeans in the summer. So if you’re sporting a khaki or seersucker suit, pair it with a cotton tie. And come fall, if you’re wearing tweed or flannel, reach for a woolly tie. Tiemakers these days are offering a ton of options on both sides of the seasonal spectrum. These ties provide instant personality without feeling gimmicky.
  • The Cheat Sheet:
    Slim down. If you want a modern look, go for a tie that’s about two and a half inches wide.
  • The tip of your tie should reach exactly to your beltline.

• The four-in-hand is the only tie knot you need to know. It goes with every shirt and suit.

• If patterns and colors confuse you, don’t sweat it. A solid dark tie with a white or light-color shirt is a can’t-miss combo.

• Buy a slim black silk knit tie and wear it with everything you own.

• Match your ties to your suiting fabrics— cotton ties with cotton suits in summer, wool ties with wool suits in winter.

• It’s official: Bow ties are back, whether you want to wear one with your tux or with your cardigan. Buy one and learn to tie it.

How To Pick Out A Tie

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

My Fashion Apparel, Mixing Tips and Sketches

Fashion Apparel, Mixing Tips and Sketches
Samantha Jonas-Rongo
I haven’t met a woman who doesn’t like or appreciate good fashion, but then again, fashion is in the eye of the beholder as beauty is. So ones fashion sense may not be another’s pick of choice. For example, even though mixing print is trending, I rather keep my look more matching. I enjoy a more classy, patterns on minimum, soft tone colored and chic look for my wardrobe. I can put together and pull off a great outfit that is mixing and colorful, but I tend to see many mistakes that other woman make while attempting that creative trend.
 I personally don’t wear too busy of clothing so I can finish making a statement with my jewelry, scarf if wearing one, and especially with my shoes, but still have space to do extra work with my hair and makeup. I like to even out my style so I won’t look like a puzzle put together with 8 different puzzle’s pieces. I don’t want my outfit  to look disoriented and dysfunctional. Pairing together an outfit with pattern leggings can also be great, but when the whole outfit is properly pulled off. So again, be careful with the print and color.
how to wear tights
One person I know personally comes to mind when I think of all the mixing Don’ts, along with adding too much color and brightness. When she believes she looks great, I’m on the other end thinking, “Please don’t wear that again”, but since her and I don’t get along that great, and she had the audacity to speak upon my clothing after I had a traumatic fire that damaged all of my things except the clothes on my back, and any money I had earned from work I spent only towards my basic needs and housing, I don’t mind laughing inside and joking later of her fashion failure. It may sound cruel, but trust me, she deserves it. What woman, and one who’s a  mother, picks on a beautiful, talented, intelligent, achieved, and successful woman who just lost everything? Not just that, but whose priorities are straight enough to put getting a new home in a month, over living from house to house for months, buying clothing? Yes, she was the real joke. I may have not been the best dressed, but I rather have a new home, which I did in only a month.
Anyway,  I also see this individual over wearing leggings, creating almost every outfit wearing a pair, but wearing them very wrong at that. Not to be continuously picking on this gal, but her fashion sense, needs some sense. I’m actually still trying to figure out when did leggings stop being worn under skirts and dresses, or while working out or doing yoga, and becoming the next replacement for pants. Yes wearing them with a long shirt, long jacket/sweater or long button up looks great, but a t-shirt or short shirt or fleeces/ hoodie as an outfit not for working out……. NO!!! Please stop!!! Wearing leggings needs to be paired with either a dress, skirt, or shirts and jackets/sweaters whose lengths go NO HIGHER than 5-7 inches above your knees, anything shorter, must be for working out purposes ONLY!!! If wearing any shirt that’s shorter than 7 inches above your knees, and especially above your buttocks, save for regular pants or jeans. Based upon a survey of 100 men, 97 agreed that woman look desperate for attention and are not one to take home to their mother all simply because of how and where they wear their leggings, ….Interesting! So when thinking it is appealing for men, it is, but not in a good way.
Now enough about leggings, I am not a fan of many bright, multi colored and mixed patterned outfits because they can be too much clash and not enough class. It screams, “I’m here, hey can you see me?, good because thats the point, and I’m trying to make a statement”…. All attention isn’t good attention and how could you be missed? Imagine walking into a room where every piece of furniture was a different color and/or pattern.
 
Also, wearing only bright or light colors due to a lighter or darker skin tone does not change the color itself, its still the same. A soft cream orange rather than bright orange or soft pink rather than a hot pink compliments both dark and light toned complexions. Some people with paler skin don’t like to wear white or cream but that doesn’t mean wear all dark clothing and stay completely away from light colors. Some dark toned individuals, including a few in my family, don’t wear a lot of black or purple, but that doesn’t mean they go for bright. A softer color brings a softer tone. I’m tan complexioned, some may call it “honey”, “yellow” or “light skinned”, but it doesn’t mean I’m too light for yellow, but a soft yellow is such a better compliment for any skin tone rather than a bright, obnoxious yellow. Check the photo below for example: I personally love yellow!
 Color Me Courtney . - Kate Spade Lady Marmalade Bracelet, J. Crew Tipi Sweater, Kate Spade Necklace, Kenneth Jay Lane All Eyes On You Necklace, Kate Spade Recital Farrah, J. Crew Pave Link Bracelet, Tom Ford Nikita Glasses - Bee Bright
Don’t be confused, I like mixed patterns and brighter colors, but in variation. You don’t want to over do it. In my opinion, there is a such thing as having too much color and pattern in an outfit. When that is the case, or the colors are not matching, the outfit itself not only looks too busy and tacky, but also looks dysfunctional. Some may disagree, but as I said, fashion is in the eye of the beholder.
Mixing prints, much like mixing same or close colors and denims is possible, but must be done with caution. Just like mixing these pieces, it is important to note that you can’t just throw any combination together, there are methods to pulling this trend off. You could either come out looking fabulous or end up looking like the neighborhoods next wacky dresser.
 
My Tips for Mixing/Matching print:
 
If you are new to wearing bold choices and crazy colours, I recommend keeping it simple. Don’t go for a full head-to-toe print.

  Mix larger prints with smaller ones: A great way to remember this is to know that opposites attract. When you’re mixing print using this rule you don’t want to go overboard with the size of the print. Try wearing a combination of large and small print. The small print against the larger one creates a balance and gives a beautiful contrast. For example leopard print comes in different sizes; you could mix a large leopard skin print skirt or trouser with a smaller leopard skin print shirt or top. You would notice that people may not even know they are not the same because of the balancing illusion they create. A quick tip is if you decide to do this use the larger print at the bottom and the smaller print at the top. The large print tends to make parts of the body seem bigger and the smaller print makes parts look smaller. Blend prints that have the same color characteristics: Another great way to mix print is to make sure your prints have similar color  When they share one or two colors that are close or the same they look like they compliment each other. Vision automatically picks things that look alike and places them together. This way when someone takes a look at you, they see a well put together outfit instead of a bunch of mixing and matching. The common color pulls. In the photo, the yellow jacket compliments the gold on back of heel. Love that jacket! Not that warm but very chic! In the print universe stripes are just like one toned or white apparel; it goes with almost anything. When you are mixing print, treat the striped item you are incorporating  like a neutral toned print. Stripes are the easiest to mix with prints and go great with graphics, floral prints, polka dots, geometric prints, animal prints and much more. I understand mixing theses prints might be a little scary so you could start your mixing with a simple stripe and graphic print combination. You could do this in monochrome or ensure the stripes and the graphic print have colors in common. In the photo below, added accessories to a bland outfit showcased in a magazine worn by a professional model creates an even more stylish look. Accessories….my favorite wardrobe!!! Make sure print accessories contrast the outfit: This is print mixing 101. If you decide you want to start small by mixing printed accessories with other prints instead of going all out with the entire outfit, make sure the accessory stands out. Use members of the same color family:

Just like having similar colors when mixing prints, you could also go all out with the same colors. Great examples of this are monochrome prints, red & black prints etc. You could wear a black & white polka dot skirt and balance that with a floral print top or a white tank and a floral print jacket. This pattern creates a great sequence that make your outfit, even though has a variation of prints, look uniform and well put together.
Accessorize Your Style: Alternatively, you can use accessories such as shoes, belts and clutches with prints on them as your starter items before transitioning into clothing. Pair Items Together: Don’t get worried about how they match each other but instead, what pairs well with another. Look for one common denominator that ties the entire look together such as the spectrum of colours or an accessory. You don’t have to mix print garments. A print shoe will look amazing with a print bag or accessory. And remember, just because you’re mixing prints doesn’t mean you can’t have some solid colours in the mix. A solid red belt for instance will create a fabulous focal point for any outfit. Color Me Courtney: denim && dots
Check out these sketches. As any good designer knows, don’t expose or allow to show full detail until the product is done so these sketches are partially finished but I as well as others still like them and so I figured why not share what is done thus far.
These are really great, I hope to one day have a pair myself.
Animal print high heels fashion illustration, girls room décor, fashion wall art, animal print fashion sketch
 
 Pattern is good, just not too much
 
 Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Clinton V. Romney?

Clinton V. Romney?

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

republican-democrat-battle

In 2015’s polling world, Hillary wins the race with 49 percent support out of the candidates running, compared to 34 percent for Bush and 35 percent for Romney.

Clinton advisers have said they would actually prefer a Clinton-Romney race, viewing him as the “weaker” Republican candidate in the set.

Clinton vs Romney

A recent poll suggests that former presidential contender Mitt Romney would win the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential election, amid rumors he is considering a third run. However, the poll also suggests that Hillary Clinton, regardless of which Republican candidate runs against her — Romney, former Gov. Jeb Bush, or Sen. Paul Rand — would sweep the final election.

Commentators and pollsters waiver on the ultimate victor though, given that Election Day is still almost two years away. Though, Romney’s and Clinton’s weaknesses and gaffes have been very publicly vetted throughout past years, the emergence of new hiccups and the resurgence of old ones is inevitable during election season. Politics can be cruel!

When it comes to key demographics, Clinton might again have the edge. Younger, minority and women voters have typically voted Democrat, making the difference for Obama in both prior elections. However, this demographic largely stayed home during the recent midterm elections, making it difficult to gauge their specific impact on the 2016 race. Still, polls indicate that both minority and the youth vote are far more likely to show up for the more prominent, salient White House race, motivated by big social issues and policies.

Clinton has also snagged key 2008-2012 Obama campaign team members, which some pundits and commentators say could help her team successfully replicate the 2012 win. For some political analysts, this choice might be a hindrance to the Clinton coalition, depending on how she wants to portray her relationship with the Obama administration to both voters and the media.

Formal portrait of Hillary Rodham Clinton with flag, 2009Most significantly, Clinton’s chance to become the first female president has the potential to bring voters to a historic election that they otherwise wouldn’t participate in.

Regardless of individual biases, historical trends can be an obstacle. Clinton’s political party is the same one that currently rules the White House. There have only been a few times (most recently, George H. W. Bush’s 1988 win following Ronald Reagan’s presidency) when a candidate sharing the same party as the outgoing two-termed president was able to get elected. Most commonly this trend prevails because voters are disappointed with the turnout of how the incumbents second term has gone. Although, Obama’s approval ratings have increased over the past couple of months, his disapproval rating is still high at 48 percent. How Obama ends his presidency, could either help or hinder Clinton’s 2016 aspirations.

Regardless of the impression voters have of Romney, his public image has improved since 2012. His advisers have attempted to “humanize” him, with members of his family opening their lives up to the media. The Netflix documentary “Mitt” was a substantial part of this re-imaging campaign, making him more relatable to the public. These intimate portraits have given Americans access to Romney as a person, not just a businessman, governor and Olympic savior.

Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney speaking at CPAC, March 15, 2013.

On the policy front, some of Romney’s more criticized points have proven prescient. His 2012 foresight of the rise of Russia as a geopolitical threat and the difficult implementation of Obama Care have been borne out with time.

Regardless of Romney’s image revitalization or intuition on certain issues, there still loom substantial stereotypes and obstacles in his potential path to 2016.

For example, during Romney’s 2012 presidential run, Democratic commentators consistently portrayed him as out of touch with the American electorate. From his off-base estimate of average middle class incomes (he said $200,000-$250,000), to his infamous dismissal of the “47 percent of Americans who are dependent upon government … who believe that they are victims,” are reminders of his perceived elitism that are just a click away.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo