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

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

I Have A Dream

I Have A Dream, August 28, 1963

Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

Revised by: Samantha Jonas-Rongo

 

On August 28, 1963, the historic March on Washington drew more than 200,000 people in the shadow of the Lincoln Memorial. It was here that King made his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, emphasizing his belief that someday all people will be considered equal and live in peace and respect. I was 15 years old during the 11th grade, and my peers and I were given extra credit to memorize, and recite important speeches from the past. Even though my grades were well enough to not need the extra credit, I could afford to add a few points! Plus, I enjoyed learning and experiencing anyways so of course I took on the extra credit challenges and opportunities.

One I chose to recite was “I Have A Dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. In honor of that brave and intelligent man and it being his Day of honor, I decided to attempt the challenge once more even though it has been almost 15 years since I sat in that 7th grade classroom.

To be honest, I needed some prepping and correction!

This is the fully corrected and revised version of “I Have A Dream”. Please read, and remember why we have the opportunities we have today. Teach our children the meaning and lead by example so today will be more than just a day we reserve. If a child can remember a songs lyrics and understand their meaning, along with words that are not even proper words, they can do the same with important speeches that made history and how we live today….Think About It!

Martin-Luther-King-Jrs-I-Have-a-Dream-speech-VIDEO

“I Have A Dream”

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free; one hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination; one hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity; one hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land.

So we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition. In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was the promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note in so far as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so we have come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make the real the promises of democracy; now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice; now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood; now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content, will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the worn threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy, which has engulfed the Negro community, must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of Civil Rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality; we can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one; we can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”; we cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro in Mississippi cannot vote, and the Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No! no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations.  Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi. Go back to Alabama. Go back to South Carolina. Go back to Georgia. Go back to Louisiana. Go back to the slums and ghettos of our Northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.  Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama — with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification — one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I HAVE A DREAM TODAY!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low. The rough places will be plain and the crooked places will be made straight, “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.”

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.  With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brother-hood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.  And this will be the day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.” And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire; let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York; let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania; let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado; let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that. Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia; let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee; let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. “From every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And when this happens, and when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”… Martin Luther King Jr. 1963

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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

Quick, Easy and Delicious Fruit Dip

 

rainbow fruit kabobs recipe

One of my favorite dips as a child was fruit dip, not only because I could eat it along with fruit, but because it was so quick and easy to make.

Made with only two main ingredients, and a side of any fruit or cookie of your choice, this dip will please anyone.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 17 oz container Marshmallow Fluff

  • 18 oz container of cream cheese

Cream Cheese Package Of every cream cheese box

(For Strawberry flavored dip, use strawberry cream cheese. And my other tip: have fun and add strawberry chunks to the mixture Mmmm!!!)

  • Fruits of your choice for dipping
  • Optional: 1 cup of Cool Whip

DIRECTIONS:

  • Allow the cream cheese to sit out for 10 minutes to soften. This is my personal preference, but not mandatory
  • Place the marshmallow fluff, cream cheese and cool whip (optional) into a bowl
  • Using a fork, an electric or handheld mixer, beat the ingredients together until smooth
  • Optional: To be even more creative, add flavored extracts such as raspberry, orange, vanilla ect…slowly add to your tasting.

  • Spread on, or dip with your favorite fruit

This is even great with graham crackers, animal crackers, Pizzelles and Nilla wafers. Even have kids dip their favorite Teddy Grahams for an easy accessible afternoon snack.

Dip can be prepared two days ahead, set in a Tupperware covered dish, and placed in refrigerator. Left overs are good for 7 days but  should be covered and stored in refrigerator.

Enjoy,

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Children and Social Networks

Children and Social Networks

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Social media, the world where the socialites and others alike, along with those non socially active can be whomever they like, meet, greet, chat and even build relationships and/or friendships. It is the nesting ground for friends, family and even predators. As a parent and an educator, this topic is near and dear to my heart. Every week that passes, the social media landscape changes, and keeping up with it can be a nightmare.

If you’re a parent or guardian of any child or teenager, you have to keep up with it. You have to be savvy enough to know what social networks your kids are using. You can’t use the excuse: “I don’t understand this stuff!”, for example: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Google+, Facebook etc. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s time to start doing some research. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should know how these networks operate. These are the platforms your teenagers, or soon to be teenagers are probably using right now or are interested in doing so.

What if your child asks you if they can get a Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram, etc… account?

Don’t start with NO! You want to start this journey with them knowing you’re there for them. That doesn’t mean you have to say yes either but hear them out first. Start with questions like these:

  1. Why do you want a Facebook account? They’ll probably answer with something like “Because ALL my friends have one”.
  1. Which of your friends are on Facebook and are allowed by their parents? Hopefully they tell you. If not, maybe they’re not ready to be on social media.
  1. Are these the only people you would be friends with on Facebook? This might be a good time to talk about only interacting with people they know in real life.
  1. What do you know about Facebook? They may say something like “You talk to friends and share photos”.
  1. What kind of photos would you be sharing? My guess is they’ll say something like “I don’t know. Me and my friends.” This is a great time to talk about what types of photos are appropriate to share online and why.

social media tips for law firms

After you’ve had this conversation with your child you need to make a decision as to whether they’re ready for social media or not. If you’re on the fence about letting them you can always say “Yes, but under one condition. You have to share your password with me. If you’re being honest about why you want to be on Facebook then you have nothing to hide from me”. You can also tell them you’ll only use the password if you feel like they’re hiding something from you or not using the network responsibly. A written agreement between you and your teen might serve as a reminder of rules that are not to be broken and consequences that will happen if they are. Refer back to it often and review the rules when appropriate.

 finger on keyboard

Here is some advice to get you started on educating yourself and your children on how to use social media safely:

  • Teach your child about respect. Respecting themselves and respecting others. If you stop them from being on Twitter or Facebook, they’ll just move to WhatsApp or Instagram or SnapChat or Google+ or … you get the point. Give them the skills to make good decisions first and foremost.
  • Teach your child that whatever they put online is permanent, this includes Emailing! Private is not always private. The photo or video they post online is not owned by them anymore. It’s owned by Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc…whatever site they posted on, and they can do what they want with it. Not only are certin things crimes, they can be persecuted not only by their peers, but even the law if it is reported. Certain photos even make them easy targets for bullies and predators as well.

SocialMediaPostRemorse

  • Some day your kids may apply to a high school or college, or submit a resume for a job, and I can assure you they will most likely be researched online. An employer, or school may still conduct a background check, but it is very common that a simple Google, and then social network search is part of the process. Ask yourself, what will their impression of my child be when their done? Therefore, teach them to also share their accomplishments like academic awards, sports awards, volunteering, community events, school club activities etc. online when they are involved in them and keep the negative outlook off of the web.
  • Tell your child to never take seductive photos and text them to her “boyfriend”. It’s incredibly risky and foolish because at some point her boyfriend probably won’t be the only person to see those photos. The same is true for girlfriends. They share pictures of ‘hot guys’ around as well. ‘Sexting’ should be a subject discussed before any smartphone is purchased. All this applies to pictures of under-age drinking, doing drugs, or any other illegal activity due to the negative outlook on their personality and being, your parenting, as well as their future job and school inquiries.
  • Explain to your child that communicating verbally is completely different than communicating online. If you happen to say something verbally that you later regret you can fix this over time. If you happen to post something online that you later regret, that content may never disappear and you may never be able to fix it. It is easy to press delete, but let’s be real, the internet does not erase, and everything sticks to the IP address. With technology allowing screen shots and downloads to occur, it may be deleted on your end, but still exist on another. So besides it still available on the IP address, the other party still has the physical evidence available at hand.
  • Trust goes as far as they trust their friends! ‘Private’ or “Protected’ accounts give teens a false sense of security, since those ‘trusted friends’ might post pictures of you, tag you, or leave accounts open and accessible to parents or worse, peers. This is where ‘Don’t say ANYTHING you wouldn’t say out loud’ applies most!

  • Make sure your child knows to come to you with a problem right when it occurs, so you can help fix it. Things can get out of hand quickly online, as pictures, texts and posts can go viral within hours! Whether something is happening on their accounts, or an a friends’ account they need to know to report it to you. Let them know coming to you is their only option and that you will always listen.
  • Be present and aware of what your children are doing online. Don’t give a laptop/iPad/iPod etc and let them go to their room for the night if you don’t plan on keeping an eye on them. Know what apps they have. Know their password to these devices. You have to find a balance between trusting your child and parenting. If you don’t give them some space they’ll never learn to make good decisions (even if that means making a mistake here and there) and if you’re completely oblivious to their online activities you’re making it far too easy for them to potentially make an unrepairable mistake as well as making it difficult for them to open up and share their online world with you. You are their parent/guardian, not their friend…some things just shouldn’t be tolerted not accepted.
  • Review the privacy settings of each app with your child. You’ll probably want to make sure that they’re not sharing their current location due to the potential ifs of bullies and/or predetor.

 Location matters Spatial standards for the Internet of Things

  • Teach your child not to interact/follow people they don’t know in person, tech them that having many friend on social network doesn’t mean that everyone is their friend in real life. Now a days, following a celecrity can even be a risk dur to the scam artist protrying to be them.
  • Start this journey into social media by making your teenager responsible for their hardware as well. Paying for their own smartphone and monthly bill will quickly teach a teen responsibility and accountability. No work, no money, no phone. It’s how the real world works. As a parent, I have a $10 pay-as-you-go phone as a back-up in case my stepson hasn’t paid his bill. He’s too young to work but allowance is given and that is his source of income. If your child is in the same predicament and your child is using your device, I will give you the same advice I have shared with many of my closest friends: “A parent’s device means all time-limits, usage rules, passwords are completely dictation by the parent”.

My favorite tip is lead by example. Practice what you preach if you want them to navigate their digital life safely.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

The Importance of Play for Later Success

The Importance of Play for Later Success

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

play

As children grow, play is an important factor for their development. They gain knowledge and skills benefitting not only their current life, but they also build a foundation for further success as an adult. Every time a child plays, they learn more about the world surrounding them and how to manage situations along with dealing with others. Play is fun for children and without them realizing, they are learning and beginning their education on life.

The stages of play vary, each style and effect. It is the work of childhood, in a laboratory in which they make developments, figure out how the world works, who they are and who they might be. Play is essential to development because it contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children to help prosper. As children grow and change, play develops with them according to a developmental sequence as they age.

Communication also plays a key role in the success of any workplace program or policy, and is gained starting while interacting with others at a young age, normally during play. The type of work that is on the rise and still earns a decent living is work that involves not only uniquely human skills, as opposed to skills that a computer can copy, but skills that are standardized across humans. Job growth has occurred in those jobs that require creativity and relationships. Over the past several decades, majority of jobs require complex communication and cognitive work or expert thinking.

Importance of Play-way method in Child’s Development

For starters, a reputation for trustworthiness is an important asset in personal living, and in our economy. Developing such a reputation requires the ability to act with responsibility and with a sense of ethics which is related to learning to socialize and communicate with others beginning as children. Success, then, in the type of economy toward which we are moving, and that today’s children will experience, depends upon the capacities of creativity, self-knowledge, social skills, and virtue. Relationships matter not just because the economy is structured by levels of relationships among firms, but because the primary economic assets reside within individuals. Before an innovation becomes marketable, it is an idea that lives within the mind of the innovator. Relationships and interpersonal cooperation are part and parcel of the creative economy.

During early childhood, peer interaction increases as children move from nonsocial activity, such as an unoccupied and/or onlooker, advancing to participate. Parents and/or caregivers influence early peer relations both directly through attempts to influence their child’s peer relations and indirectly through their parent moral practices. Secure attachment, emotionally positive parent-child conversations, and cooperative parent-child play are linked to favorable peer interaction. As the frequency of associative and cooperative play increase, the frequency of non-social activity is constant.

Very young children normally have a limited form of social participation. They play near other children with similar materials, but will most likely not try to influence or interact with other children. This is the parallel play stage, and is in par for the developmental course for babies, even toddlers.

While they may appear to be playing independently, kids this age are actually keeping an eye on each other’s behavior. Eventually, they’ll begin to imitate what he or she sees the others doing, and the peer pressure opens their mind to new possibilities for play. Becoming observant and imitating eventually helps extend vocabulary. Parallel play is often a first step in forming strong social relationships outside of the family.

Developing Core Vocabulary for Each Academic Area

Play is also vital to children’s social development. It enables children to develop a better communicating ground. During play, children increase their verbal and non-verbal communication skills by negotiating roles, and extending their speech, vocabulary and comprehension of the words. By becoming social with others, they exercise their abilities to identify with others as well as themselves. They learn to gain access to their peers’ feelings and appreciating the feelings of others.

Play also supports emotional maturity by providing a way to express and cope with feelings. While they play, they are allowed to think about experienced feelings both pleasant and unpleasant and re-enact the situation to their preference. In addition to expressing feelings, children also learn to cope with their feelings as they act out. For example, how they react to being angry or overwhelmed in response to situations and other people. In play, children learn how to regulate their fear and anger and thereby learn how to maintain emotional control in threatening real-life situations.

Play also contributes to children’s fine and gross motor development and body awareness as they actively use their bodies. Using their bodies during play enables them to feel physically confident, secure and self-assured. It provides various health benefits as well. Physical activity promotes early brain development, and learning in infants and young children. It also decreases the risk of developing health conditions like coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, obesity and many other chronic health conditions.

Most children naturally develop the ability to run and walk. However, they require practice and instruction to develop hopping, galloping, sliding, catching, jumping, throwing, kicking, bouncing and striking skills. Children incorporate these skills into sports, games and dance. Playgrounds are perfect places for a child to develop mental connections, socialize and develop fine and gross motor skills.

Collaborating to Solve Problems

Creative thinking can also be considered an aspect of problem solving which originates in play. When young children use their imaginations, they become more creative, perform better at school task, and develop a problem solving approach to learning. It allows a new response and awareness of new connections. Children create their own version of transformation of information including music, arts & crafts and audio-visual.

Symbolic play is an often-overlooked important scaffold to emerging literacy. The appearance of symbolic play is considered one of the most significant cognitive developments of a young child. Symbolic play, along with deferred imitation and language; signals the development of representational thought and allows gradual exploration and control. The key importance of representational thought is that the child is now able to represent objects and events symbolically. Symbolic representation shows you how sophisticated their brain is becoming. It also allows them to prepare for, or work through future events and situations, and build relationships with others.

The industrial age was a time in which first manual, and then routine cognitive skills were emphasized. We have found that the work of both of these skill categories can be replicated by machines. Today, more Americans are employed in the arts, entertainment and designed industries than are employed as lawyers, accountants and auditors. Our economy also has more writers and artist than ever before. Due to how they will be plying their own human assets in their entrepreneurial endeavors, today’s children will need to know how to make full use of their human assets.

More than thirty percent of the work force belongs to the “creative class”, a group of people whose primary occupation involves creativity-based human capital whose numbers now suppress those of the working class. Primary assets that creative economy participants use to ply their entrepreneurial talents are those that are uniquely human in nature. In other words, educating the human being is becoming an economic necessity, not simply an alternative lifestyle. Not only is the creative economy more entrepreneurial, but its roots are structured differently.

Technology, of course, encompasses more than just computers and machines. The machines themselves are actually the product of process of technology, which represents the ability to create a tangible product. Technology, is then dependent upon human cognitive capacities as are talent and tolerance. Computer programming, work that we use to consider white-collar and highly skilled, is increasingly diminishing. In almost all cases these types of jobs are learning economies like ours, because the forms of careers that are expanding, relay on routine cognitive skills.

The fact of the matter is, healthy play offers the ability to evolve into healthy success.                                                                                                                                 

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

How To Drink Ginger Ale Properly

How to drink Ginger Ale Properly                                                                    

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

It’s that time of year again where many of us are victim of stomach bugs and we are finding ourselves over bowls of soup and sipping ginger ale. As much as we believe we are nursing ourselves and our children back to health, we tend to make a few mistakes along the way which may actually upset our bodies more. It’s bad enough when we misdiagnose something for another, and treat it as so, it only makes it worse until the proper care is given, but the most common mistakes I see people do is buy the wrong brands of ginger ale and serve the correct ones incorrectly.

Traditionally, you can either eat ginger as a delicacy, use it as a medicine, or take it as a spice. It has been advocated as a treatment for an upset stomach at least since the days of the Greek doctor Dioscorides. Now we have carbonated sodas such as Ginger ale which is a common home remedy for nausea and vomiting of people suffering from food poisoning, gastroenteritis, morning sickness or the complications of chemotherapy. It is also used by NASA astronauts for space sickness.

Ginger is a carminative, which means it helps to expel gas from the stomach or intestines, one of the main reasons for stomach upset.  Gas can be extremely painful, in fact many cases of those who bring themselves to the emergency for severe stomach cramping find out that they only had intense gas pains. Ginger, or ginger ale also soothes tissues and relaxes cramping and is beneficial as an anti-inflammatory and general digestive aid as it helps to promote the body’s formation of enzymes and good bacteria in the gut, but it has to be consumed correctly.

Many people find it soothing to the stomach and an easy way to replenish their fluids and electrolytes, which are the salts and minerals such as chloride, calcium, magnesium, sodium, and potassium that conduct electricity and help power your cells. Proper balance of electrolytes is critical for muscle coordination in your heart and also crucial for your nerves and brain to function.

Regardless of ginger’s effect, most ginger ales contain little or no real ginger. However, the ale is easily digestible, which makes it a soothing drink that is likely to stay down along with any other clear soda because it doesn’t contain the dark dyes. However, the soda has to flat and no longer be carbonated. Of course if you replace ginger ale made with real ginger, with another clear soda, the effects won’t be the same as the key ingredient is ginger.

My choice of ginger ale is always either Vernors, or Canada Dry when an upset stomach arrives. Where I live, a cheaper brand of soda, Faygo, is a more popular choice due to the price and quantity value, but it contains no real ginger, just added sugars and artificial flavors which causes more of an upset stomach later. It is very critical to read labels of anything before you put it in your body, and carbonated beverages is one.

Naturally, we reach for the cooler when purchasing something to drink, but when an upset stomach is pulling you towards ginger ale, it’s best to get one that hasn’t made it to the cooler yet, or allow one that has; to warm. If you are someone who suffers from digestive issues or stomach aches quite often, it’s good to always keep warm ginger ale in stock at home, warm in a shelf of course, so when discomfort arrives, the ginger ale is almost automatically ready to be sipped. I say sipped with emphasis, and I will explain later.

Acid, not bubbles, responsible for distinctive 'bite' of carbonated beverages, researchers reveal

Drinking ginger ale flat and warm is crucial when trying to calm an upset stomach because carbonated drinks can cause gas bubbles to form in the stomach, which may further disturb an upset digestive system. For this reason, you should especially never drink ginger ale straight out of the can. Always allow it to sit at room temperature until the fizz has disappeared. To speed up the process, you can also stir the carbonation out, but make sure to continue to stir until there is no more fizz. You can also pour it from one glass into another several times to hasten the release of the carbon dioxide into the air. When it tastes “flat”, it is safe and ready to consume.

Another reason to drink ginger ale warm, or any other beverages when feeling nauseas is because, very cold liquids can shock the digestive system and further upset the stomach. You should also not drink ginger ale or other liquids until at least an hour after you have vomited. To rehydrate after vomiting, sip lukewarm water and see if it will stay down. After this, if the vomiting slows or subsides, you can graduate to ginger ale.

Slowly sip it to avoid overloading pressure on your stomach. Frequent small sips are more effective than infrequent long drinks. Do not rely on your thirst alone to judge how often you should drink, but if the thought, taste or smell of the ale increases your nausea, wait until later. However, after you can keep it down, take a sip every 20 to 30 minutes to begin replenishing your fluids.

An upset stomach is usually accompanied by diarrhea which can also be calmed by ginger ale. When you feel the onset of diarrhea about to occur, with or without stomach nausea, you can blame your failure to include not only enough water, but ginger in your diet. The reason is that certain kinds of compounds found within ginger are an active agent that works against forms of diarrhea.

Digestion2013-04-01_1051

So next time you have an upset digestive system and are feeling sick, sip warm, no longer carbonated ginger ale, made with real ginger and not just artificial flavors.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Why A Case and Screen Protector Are Not Enough

Why A Case and Screen Protector Are Not Enough

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Protecting the data icon Royalty Free Stock PhotoNo matter if it’s a new Microsoft Surface Pro, Windows laptop, traditional desktop computer or the latest IPhone, your device needs to have protection. More than often, we are more focused on protecting the outside of our device by plastering screen protectors and spending more than enough money for a single case. We tend to ignore what really matters which is it’s processing and the protection of our personal data.

We live in a time of age where there’s almost an APP for everything, but what you’re really installing can be something vicious. In 2014 alone, there have been millions of hacks and viruses floating through the air waves. There are a few steps in which you need to do in order to have protection of not just the operation of your device, but your personal information.

It is important to update your antimalware program for one. The last thing you want to do is infect your computer with malware. Don’t know what malware is?

“Malware” is a broad term that covers a host of malicious software. It is, but not limited to viruses, spyware, worms, adware, cookies and Trojans. At its simplest, malware is software that’s been designed to harm networks and range from an act of simple annoyance, network crashes, to identity theft. People often use the term “virus” to mean “malware”, because viruses were really the first kind of malware. Once downloaded, certain malware allows cyber criminals to attempt, and gain access of your personal information by scanning, and monitoring your device’s activities, and log your key strokes to access passwords, etc.

Any device can even be controlled to visit random websites or perform other actions such as running the camera of your device and even record without the owner’s knowledge. Scary!

Another suggestion to save your device from further destruction is to not only have antimalware, but also an antivirus and keep the program updated. An antimalware which consist of protection for specific malware, may not locate all of the viruses that are in motion since viruses are only one section under the large malware umbrella.

Due to there being over 74,000 new viruses every year, good antivirus companies continuously update their software throughout the year, but need permission from the user to do so on their device. It is very important not to ignore or decline the software to update, because it gives you the up-to-date protection as the threats are being created. Adobe Flash, Java, Microsoft Windows and your internet browser are often updated and will send notification when there is an update available.

However, it is best to set them to update automatically. In case you receive a pop up requesting for you to update something you are unfamiliar of, contact your IT and ask what is being updated and its purpose, because it could cause potential harm if in case it is malware.

Sometimes the “free” antiviruses are actually a source of viruses and/or other malware. They can be concealing themselves as a professional free service so there is a higher possibility for them to be downloaded. It is best to purchase known antivirus software from their legitimate retail sources. Normally when you register, you have protection for a year and have to renew your subscription, but it is well worth it to have up-to-date protection at all times. Due to the annual cost, majority of companies will offer their members discounts when renewing subscriptions.

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Another precaution is not opening email attachments or downloaded files without first scanning them with your antivirus/malware programs. Email is the majority way that viruses are delivered to devices. The emails are normally called spam which is why it is important to have your spam protection on.

firewall protection for your networkIf you use a computer or any other device at home on your home network, the most effective and important first step you can take to help protect your computer is to enable a firewall. When in an office or home setting, the firewall, which is the first line of defense, scans all traffic before it allows the traffic through the network. If you have more than one computer or device connected at home, or if you have a small-office network, it is important to protect every computer and device.

You should have a hardware firewall (such as a router) to protect your network, but you should also use a software firewall on each computer and device to help prevent the spread of a virus in your network if one of the devices becomes infected.

Your Router's Role

When in a “shared network”, remember that the keyword is “share”, so therefore your information is vulnerable to those on the same network such as an open Wi-Fi or public hotspot. It’s upsetting to know that someone sitting nearby in a public area drinking coffee, eating a fast food burger, or studying at the campus library, who is connected to its open network, could be stealing valuable information right in front of you.

Not only do you have to protect your devices while using other networks, but also protecting your network from others it. It is nice to share, but share your network with only those you trust. When you have internet and Wi-Fi at home or, as a hotspot, lock it and only give the key to those you trust to use it. With an open network, anyone within the area can use up your available data usage through your internet provider, and/or infect your devices with malware to later infect and maybe gain access of your personal information.

If in fact your device’s hard drive crashes, it can be a big loss to lose important data, photos, etc. There are easy solutions to back up your system and while some may cost, it is well worth it. Depending on the network’s provider, you may be offered a certain amount of free storage, but depending on how much data you need to store, will differentiate the cost.

So the next time you purchase that new stylish case, accessorize for convenience or to express fashion,  think about how you can protect your device’s productivity and personal information.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Moscato Pairing

“In need of a quick, inexpensive, romantic dinner without having the time to get ready, cook, or make last minute reservations? Stay home, pop in a movie, pair a bottle of wine along with your favorite pizza, set the lights dim, light some candles and relax”…..Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Moscato Pairing  

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

With notes of apricot, white peach and sage, a wonderful sweetness,
and its vibrant and refreshing quality, it’s no wonder I, along with America loves
Moscato. It pairs well with many dishes and different food combinations. A glass is delicious alongside of green salads, seafood, poultry, fruit and cheese plates, sweet desserts and spicy dishes. Here are some pairing subject suggestions that I enjoy myself and I hope you will too. This is referenced and originated from my latest post, “My Love for Moscato”. Click Here To View “My Love for Moscato”.

Enjoy pink, red or white moscato during any of these enjoyments:

  • BRUNCH – If you’re looking for a brunch wine, Moscato pairs well with breakfast pastries, eggs, pancakes and other brunch foods such chicken or even fish.
  • COCKTAIL MUNCHIES – Crackers, cheese (hard or soft), and olives provide a salty counterpoint to the slightly sweet wine. Simple bruschetta is also a perfect pairing along with these snacks.
  • FRESH VEGTABLES – The crispness of raw vegetables pairs well with Moscato.
  • CHICKEN & FISH  – Moscato is delicious with lighter chicken and fish dishes.
  • CREAM SAUCES – Mild cream sauces pair well with Moscato.
  •  DESSERT – While moscato is far less sweet than other dessert wines, it has enough residual sugar to work with many desserts such as cheesecake or strawberry shortcake.
  • FRUIT – A snack or dessert of fresh fruit, or a fruit pie is an occasion for Moscato. Peaches are a perfect match with this peachy wine.
  • HAM – Here’s another fine sweet-and-salty pairing, whether it’s a baked dinner ham, a ham sandwich or ham-based brunch..
  • PICNICS & POOLSIDE – Moscato is an ideal wine to sip poolside or relaxing at a picnic while cooling off from the heat.
  • SALADS – Want a glass of wine with your lunch or dinner salad? Grab the Moscato.
  • SHELLFISH – Sweeter wines like Moscato are a favorite pairing with crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops and sushi.
  • SPICY FOODS – The slight sweetness of Moscato complements the heat and spice to pair with Asian, Indian and other hot cuisines, along with spicy favorites such as Spaghetti, pizza and garlic based dishes.

In need of a quick, inexpensive, romantic dinner without having the time to get ready, cook or make last minute reservations? Stay home, pop in a movie, pair a bottle of wine along with your favorite pizza, set the lights dim, light some candles and relax.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

pizzawine

My Love for Moscato

“Call it Muscat in French or Moscato in Italian, regardless of its pronunciation, I absolutely loved my gift. I love this wine,…..”- Samantha Jonas-Rongo

 My Love for Moscato                                                                              

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Last Night my fiancé and I had attended his job’s company Christmas party and I was given a bottle of Moscato as a gift from his co-workers, our friends. Call it Muscat in French or Moscato in Italian, regardless of its pronunciation, I absolutely loved my gift. I love this wine, not only because I am a wine fan and am not a heavy drinker; but because Moscato offers a sweet taste that goes down smoothly and pairs well. After a long hard day of being fabulous, I like to relax with a glass of wine, but I don’t want it to bite me back. It is also yummy with salads, seafood, poultry, fruit and cheese plate, spicy dishes.  As I now sit, sip on my glass of delicious white Moscato and update my site, I figured why not share my knowledge and opinion of this wonderful drink so others can be inspired to either start or continue to enjoy it as well. I will also share my Pink Moscato and Red Raspberry Sangria recipe with you later in my recipe section of my website.

Moscato or Muscat is a white wine grape. The wines, slightly sweet and low in alcohol, are often served with dessert.

First things first:

There are three types of Moscato and they include:

  • White Moscato (My Favorite)- Crisp, fruity and bursting with flavors of peach, honey, and citrus.
  • Pink Moscato- Light-bodied and bursting with citrus and peach, with a hint of red berries
  • Red Moscato- Sweet red wine bursting with red berries and hints of citrus.

Moscato also is available in a variety of Bubbly, other flavors and is produced by many different brands.

In the U.S., wine drinking has held its own during these hard economic times. Moscato, the Italian dessert wine, has gone from relative obscurity to the toast of the town.

Until about a decade ago, the ancient Italian wine could have been described as obscure — what one wine expert called “a little backwater grape.” Now the words used about the rise of moscato are “breathtaking,” “phenomenal”. Industry watchers say they’ve never seen anything like it. It is the fastest growing varietal wine in the country.

At a time when complaints are that wines from all over the world are growing more alike, the original Moscato with origins in Piedmont, Italy, Moscato d’Asti is something of an anomaly. It is low in alcohol, sweet and slightly fizzy, all hardly the qualities most wine drinkers or critics seem to be looking for these days. A few years ago, Moscato d’Asti seemed to be headed for questioning in the wine industry. Then Moscato d’Asti was discovered by hip-hop artists.

Hip-hop singer/rapper and producer, Drake, in his song “Do It Now,” gives it a shout-out. It’s also the wine Kanye West orders, and it’s the wine Real Housewife of Atlanta, NeNe Leakes sells under the label “Miss Moscato”.

Moscato, the slightly sweet, fizzy, low alcohol and inexpensive white wine, has become the hip-hop community’s new favorite drink. Hence, it has cropped up in so many music artists vocabulary. For example, thereafter, the rapper Drake calls for a “glass of Moscato for the girl who’s a student and her friend who’s a model”; in a song he featured in with R&B singer, Trey Songz.

Soon, Moscato was being served at parties in New York and Los Angeles.

Sales of Moscato surged. Imitators sprang up around the globe, trying mostly unsuccessfully to match the signature taste of the Piemontese original but became delicious enough for many creditors, such as myself to enjoy. Jugs of Barefoot moscato are sold at BJ’s Wholesale Club, most local wine outlets, and is even on the menu at Olive Garden and other fine dining restaurants.

Moscato is inexpensive, generally $8 to $20 a bottle. It’s low in alcohol and has a lightly sweet, fresh flavor with hints of peaches, apricots, pears, orange blossoms and rose petals. Sweet wines are selling big, especially to the under 40 crowd, who grew up enjoying and appreciating sugary drinks.

It is being called a gateway beverage for new wine drinkers and an all-time favorite by others. Then there’s the whole hip-hop, edgy thing: Drink moscato and you’ll be cool like rapper Waka Flocka or Drake. Even many woman are now drinking wine rather than traditional hard or malt liquors because it’s classy and, sophisticated presence and it’s now recognition in the hip-hop and R&B world. All it took was a few shout-outs in a song to spread its presence as the same happened with Cristal champagne, Hennessy cognac and Patron tequila.

For years the drinks most associated with hip-hop were distinctly aspirational. Busta Rhymes rapped about Courvoisier, Jay-Z about Louis Roederer Cristal and later, Armand de Brignac Ace of Spades champagne, and Nas rhymed about vodka Grey Goose.

These were expensive symbols of the high life.

Now that Moscato, the fairly inexpensive but compelling wine is popular, it is a symbol that maybe times are starting to change and that you do not have to spend an extreme amount of cash to have something of greater value. However, Moscato is not just for nightly fun or night caps. These are yet more reasons why I enjoy this wine.

  • BRUNCH – If you’re looking for a brunch wine, Moscato pairs well with breakfast pastries, eggs, pancakes and other brunch foods such chicken or even fish.
  • COCKTAIL MUNCHIES – Crackers, cheese (hard or soft), and olives provide a salty counterpoint to the slightly sweet wine. Simple bruschetta is also a perfect pairing along with these snacks.
  • FRESH VEGTABLES – The crispness of raw vegetables pairs well with Moscato.
  • CHICKEN & FISH  – Moscato is delicious with lighter chicken and fish dishes.
  • CREAM SAUCES – Mild cream sauces pair well with Moscato.
  •  DESSERT – While moscato is far less sweet than other dessert wines, it has enough residual sugar to work with many desserts such as cheesecake or strawberry shortcake.
  • FRUIT – A snack or dessert of fresh fruit, or a fruit pie is an occasion for Moscato. Peaches are a perfect match with this peachy wine.
  • HAM – Here’s another fine sweet-and-salty pairing, whether it’s a baked dinner ham, a ham sandwich or ham-based brunch..
  • PICNICS & POOLSIDE – Moscato is an ideal wine to sip poolside or relaxing at a picnic while cooling off from the heat.
  • SALADS – Want a glass of wine with your lunch or dinner salad? Grab the Moscato.
  • SHELLFISH – Sweeter wines like Moscato are a favorite pairing with crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops and sushi.
  • SPICY FOODS – The slight sweetness of Moscato complements the heat and spice to pair with Asian, Indian and other hot cuisines, along with spicy favorites such as Spaghetti, pizza and garlic based dishes.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo