Week 4 of Budget 101

PART 4: SAVE ON THE NECESSARY THINGS

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve probably come to the conclusion that getting your financial life in order is hard work!  I wish I could say it will be a cakewalk from now on, but alas, there is still much to be done.  Don’t let that discourage you or make you give up.  If you are feeling overwhelmed (a perfectly normal reaction), then just stop, take a deep breath, and give yourself a break.  Wait a week or two to pick up where you started.  This series will be here for you when you’re ready.  I promise you CAN do this, and it’s okay if it takes you longer than 8 weeks to get there.
(NOTE: If you are new to “Through The Eyes Of I” or missed out last week, you might want to start at Week 1 of Budget 101 before starting this week’s assignment!)
Last week we focused lowering our major expenses–housing, transportation, & insurance.   Hopefully you were able to find a few ways to save, and if so, YAHOO!    If not, take heart, there are plenty of other areas left to save.
This week we are going to focus on lowering your expenses for the necessities in your budget.  Do you remember the exercise from week 1, where we focused on separating our wants from our needs?  Well, this is where that comes into play. There are certain things we simply can’t live without– groceries, utilities, gas –but we most likely CAN pay less for them.

For those of you who don’t want to bother with coupons, there are still many ways to reduce your grocery bills simply by changing the way you shop. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. ANY savings is better than none!

Unless you have already been trying to cut your expenses in this area, your utility bills should be one place you can find lots of opportunities for savings!  Small tweaks can make a BIG difference in your final bill, and if you are anything like me, you probably have a whole pile of utility bills to deals with each month–everything from water to electricity, cable to phones,  the list goes on and on, and seems to get longer all the time.

Gas is a hard expense to cut significantly. We obviously have no control over gas prices, and we usually need to travel where we need to go. But there are a few things we can do to make sure we are making the most of our gas mileage, and again, small tweaks can make a big difference over time.

This week’s assignment will be pretty straightforward.  We’re going to methodically go through those things we MUST spend money on, whether we want to or not, and then look for ways to cut those expenses.  A little here, and a little there really does add up.

This week’s assignment:

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1. Develop a strategy for saving on your groceries

If you are already saving money with coupons, great!  Look for ways to stretch those savings even more, perhaps by committing to a few meatless meals a week or by getting more proficient at “shopping” and cooking from your own stockpile. If you are not using coupons and don’t want to, there are still a lot of ways to reduce that grocery bill by planning your meals & shopping list around what’s on sale, and stocking up when you find things at a great price.

2.  Reduce Your Utilities

Make a list of all the utilities you pay each month, and make an active commitment to reduce each one. For instance, you could commit to reducing your electric bill by setting your A/C a few degrees lower and by turning off the lights during the day (and keeping them off.)  You could decide to eliminate your landline in favor of cell phones, downgrade your cable plan, or switch internet providers.  Remember, every little bit helps, but whatever you decide to do, WRITE IT DOWN!  Then do it!

3.  Commit to Saving Money on Gas

Once again, be specific.  Write down at least 5 things you can start doing right away to help lower that expense every month, whether it be planning your errands better to make them more efficient, carpooling, walking when possible, or even checking to make sure your tires are properly inflated. That’s all there is for this week.  That wasn’t so bad was it?  Compared to all the big stuff, it was a walk in the park, and maybe it was even a little fun!  It is amazing how much money we literally throw away each month, just because we don’t pay attention to the details in all these different areas.  It really does add up.

 
Stay tuned for another riveting installment next Sunday and don’t forget to let me know how you’re doing!
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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.

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

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

Protect Your Jewelry From Tarnishing

Protect Your Jewelry From Tarnishing

I love jewelry. Whether its costume, solid gold, gold filled, gold plated or sterling silver, I’ll wear it. I compliment every outfit of mine with jewelry and even though I have many pieces of the real deal materials, I love to dress up with the use of costume jewelry.

Like many people, I want to wear jewelry, but can’t see spending the prices for real gold and silver each and every time. However, dime-store quality jewelry leaves green or black marks on some people’s skin and it’s their only option. Luckily for me, I don’t have that issue and I have a large collection of…..

  •  Costume jewelry:

  • And real gold jewelry:
pile of scrap gold & silver
  • And real silver jewelry:

SAMANTHA Personalized Name Necklace with Rhinestone Gold or Silver Tone

The rate at which things tarnish will vary depending on your body chemistry: how acidic or basic it is and how much you sweat. With some complicated pieces that incorporate stones or unusual types of metal, it can be difficult to stop tarnishing and/or cleaning.

Gold-plated jewelry is a good substitute for solid gold, as it is difficult to tell the difference and is nowhere near as expensive, but gold-plated jewelry still needs to be given a certain amount of care if you want the gold to stay bright and keep the luster. Following a care regime for your gold-plated and costume jewelry is worth the extra few minutes it takes.

Here are some cheap, costume earrings bought at a local store.

How to Keep Your Jewelry From Tarnishing

First step for protection:

  • Find a well ventilated area
  • Spread out your protective barrier for your jewelry. (old newspaper or ads)

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  • Lay out your jewelry

Lay out your jewelry

At this time if you are sensitive to smells or harsh chemicals, you may want to put on the gloves and mask.

  • Grab your acrylic and begin the process.

Grab your acrylic and begin the process.

  • Spray an even coat front and back.
  • Air dry at least 20 mins before storing or wearing.

Air dry at least 20 mins before storing or wearing.

  • Be sure to clean the backs w alcohol before wearing.

Voila!! Beats nail polish anyday. Be sure to clean the backs w alcohol before wearing.

Now your jewelry is protected!

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Simple, Healthy Baked Avocado and Egg

Simple, Healthy Baked Avocado and Egg

Avocado Baked Eggs | thetwobiteclub.com

Avocado Baked Eggs are made by filling creamy avocados with eggs and then baking and seasoning them in the oven until the yolk is set to your liking. This dish really couldn’t be any easier to pull together.  It’s fresh, simple, smooth and tasty.  Avocado, egg, seasoning, bake… done!

You can decide to add a couple of add-in ingredients, which you totally don’t have to do, but bacon and cheese seems like it would be amazing!

You could go Italian and do tomatoes and basil, go Greek and do feta and oregano.  Or how about tex mex!  Salsa avocado baked eggs, anyone? Either way, these avocado baked eggs are a perfectly decadent, filling, and gorgeous breakfast!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 avocado, or more.
  • 2 eggs per avocado. (I recommend medium or large eggs)
  • Adobo or salt and pepper
  • optional add-ins* (cheese, bacon, tomatoes, green onions, salsa, fresh herbs, etc.)
    • If using bacon, cook and set aside.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Slice your avocado in half lengthwise to the pit.  Twist the two sides in opposite directions and gently pull apart.

  • Remove the pit. Scoop out a little of the avocado from the center to make a little additional space for the egg.

  • Season the avocado with Adobo. If Adobo is unavailable, salt and pepper will do perfectly fine.

FOR EXTRA JAZZ: Sprinkle a small bit of your choice of toppings into the hole for the egg, then gently crack the egg into the avocado.

  • Crack your egg inside the avocado. If you like, place avocado in shallow dish that you will be baking them in ahead of time in case the egg spills out. Extra large eggs tend to always spill over.

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  • Top with the remaining toppings of your choice and season again with Adobo or salt and pepper.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, depending on how you like your yolk set.  Check after 15 minutes and then continue cooking to your liking.

I’m all about a little bit of texture, and, to be honest, when you eat these on their own it’s soft even more due to the avocado and egg.  Spread that avocado and egg on a nice slice of toasted bread and you’ve got the much needed texture.

Avocado Baked Eggs ~ Creamy avocado baked with eggs, salami, and white cheddar cheese.

*The optional add-in toppings I used in the photo above were sliced salami and shredded white sharp cheddar cheese

My favorite way to eat avocado baked eggs is spread on toast.  YUM!

Enjoy,

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Ruby Red Cranberry Syrup and Margarita Recipe

Makes ~ 3-4 cups syrup (great holiday gift!). Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Learn to make, and enjoy this beautiful homemade ruby-red cranberry syrup. Use it for cocktails, margaritas, daiquiris, etc. or also over pancakes and waffles. This recipe makes approximately 3 to 4 cups of syrup, and can be stored in the refrigerator for up 6 weeks.

In a shaker over ice, mix 2-3 T cranberry syrup, 3 T silver tequila, 2 T orange liquor (not triple sec!) juice of 1 lime and a squeeze of agave nectar. Pour into chilled martini glasses. Cheers!

INGREDIENTS:

For Cranberry Syrup Recipe:

  • 4 Cups of cranberries (frozen or thawed)
  • 1 1/2 Cups of sugar
  • 3 Cups of water

For Margarita Recipe:

Use all of the ingredients listed above for cranberry syrup, including:

  • Agave syrup
  • 5 tablespoons of white tequila, I prefer Patron, but any blanco tequila of your choice is fine.
  • 4 tablespoons of orange favored liquor, (Not a triple sec)  I prefer Bacardi O.
  • Limes

DIRECTIONS:

  • Combine cranberries, 2 cups of water and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat.

Combine cranberries, water and sugar in a large saucepan over high heat.

  • Cook, stirring frequently with wooden spoon, for 10-15 minutes. Cranberries will burst naturally due to heat. If you press against pot with back of spoon, it will release more fruit, and mixture will thicken.

Cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes. Cranberries will burst (press against pot w/ back of spoon to release more fruit), and mixture will thicken.

  • Strain cranberry mixture through fine mesh sieve, adding up to 1 cup additional water to make more syrup. Press and stir cranberries against sieve to extract as much syrup as possible.

Strain cranberry mixture through fine mesh sieve, adding up to 1 cup additional water to make more syrup. Press and stir cranberries against sieve to extract as much syrup as possible.

  • You will end up with this beautiful ruby-red cranberry syrup!

You will end up with a beautiful ruby-red cranberry syrup! I use mine for cocktails (margaritas, champagne, etc...), but this syrup would also be good over pancakes or waffles.

  • Makes 3-4 cups of syrup. Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

Makes ~ 3-4 cups syrup (great holiday gift!). Store in refrigerator for up to one month.

NOW FOR THE DELICIOUS CRANBERRY MARGARITA:

  • In a shaker over ice, mix 3 1/2 cups of cranberry syrup, 5 tablespoons of white tequila, 4 tablespoons of orange liquor (not triple sec), juice of 1 lime and a squeeze of agave nectar.
  • Pour into chilled martini glasses.
  • Enjoy!!!

In a shaker over ice, mix 2-3 T cranberry syrup, 3 T silver tequila, 2 T orange liquor (not triple sec!) juice of 1 lime and a squeeze of agave nectar. Pour into chilled martini glasses. Cheers!

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

Coding, The New Literacy

Coding, The New Literacy

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

“Every era demands, and rewards different skills of that generation”….Samantha Jonas-Rongo

All of us, including our children are connected to technology unlike when we were kids. It’s now part of our lives and our young ones are born into it. Teaching them to code is like playing with LEGOS, which itself is a great introduction to the concept. They want to make things and making a Lego house and building an app or a game is about the same concepts.

In earlier generations, including today, parents including stepmoms such as myself, teach their children how to grow plants, cook meals, separate laundry correctly, iron clothes, wash dishes, take care of animals and plants, make their bed and take vitamins daily, brush and floss their teeth at least twice a day, wash hands, speak proper and respectfully, use manners, do their homework, study hard, enjoy reading read, write a story, shoot hoops, ride a bike, the list goes on and on.

Our world has morphed and so many of the things we once did with elements such as fire and iron, or tools such as pencil and paper, are now wrought in code. We are teaching coding to help our kids craft their future. Isn’t it amazing to see a baby or a toddler handle a tablet or a smart phone? They know how technology works vaguely already.

Kids absorb information so fast. Languages, spoken or coded, can be learned in a matter of months. Recently, there has been a surge of importance and poplularity emerging about teaching kids to code.

Programming is viewed as a strict logical stream only available to the brainiest. In fact, coding is within the grasp of everyone. It teaches creativity, strategy, solving puzzles, and even cooperation. I want to expose not only my stepson to coding, but hope that  other parents understand the importance of programming because it’s a great skill and a powerful way of thinking.

As much as kids spend enough time playing Angry Birds and Cut the Rope on a smart phone, I figure they should get a peek behind the curtain at how the programming works. In fact, developing the codes that tell computers and devices what to do is now a vital mainstream skill. With that being said, everyone should learn to code in my opinion, but something’s getting lost in translation between technologists and parents of students around the country.

Let’s get this out of the way: Not everyone needs to learn how to code. Coding is just one part of the constantly evolving technological landscape. It produces all computer programs, from games to social media sites and online calculators. Some experts call it “the new literacy” and say that to survive in tomorrow’s society, young people must learn to code.

There’s a big difference between learning how to code and having a fundamental understanding of how technology and software operate. Of the two, the latter is way more important for some people including myself, while many in the U.S. don’t understand the tools and software they’re using and are settling for just knowing how to function the program.

“The cloud” is still one of those misunderstood technical terms that gets thrown around far too often, and yet people don’t understand what it means. Even CNN couldn’t educate their viewers appropriately about where and how data is stored in cloud services like iCloud.

I believe that offering programming electives for students who want to learn Python or scripting won’t solve the underlying problem of digital illiteracy alone. In order to teach all students to code, schools will first need to introduce computer-science concepts that help students learn how to stack the building blocks themselves.

Also, digital literacy won’t be a part of a students’ required curriculum until parents acknowledge it’s presence, understand its meaning and importance, and thus demand, that their children be taught it. Parents need to realize that this is an intellectual gap in the elementary school curriculum that’s going to be useful no matter what their kids are going to do in the future.

Velocity offers a private white label reseller program for cloud hosted PBX resellers services and solutions

They don’t need to learn how to build the next Dropbox or Facebook, but they should understand how the cloud works at least. Instead of just knowing “its a storage space on the web for your stuff”, or something related to that, they should know the fundamentals and meaning behind it. For students with access to more advanced technology, dovetailing computer science concepts with courses that students are already studying can benefit both subjects.

Bootstrap, for instance, teaches students programming concepts by using algebra and geometry to create a video game. The materials are open source, and math teachers of students aged 8 to 13 can download and introduce Bootstrap to the classroom, but finding and enabling qualified instructors to teach concepts of technology and computer science can be difficult.

The “learn to code,” movement has almost as many skeptics as supporters—in part because coding, and understanding how coding works, are two very different things.  When you understand how things work, it changes your perception of the world, and the Internet is not this thing that’s separate from you any more. You can be part of it.

 A growing list of educational startups are teaching programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to people without technical backgrounds. Universities, colleges, and continuing education programs are getting into the act, too. I support and understand the value of it’s success, because you have to stay on top of the technology of the present that is the beginning of the future. You have to stay on top of the technology, because it’s very competitive in the job market.

Coding, that’s the future. Many creative professionals are going to need to know how to do the technical stuff. Even if you or your child are not planning to become a programmer or developer, knowing and understanding computer code can enhance resumes and help careers.

Programming really is literacy for the 21st century. Which computer languages that should be learned depends on the goals. As a general rule of thumb, learn HTML and CSS for the Web; JavaScript for games or apps; and Ruby or Python if you want to process data or explore databases. For the college graduate, having the ability to put HTML and CSS on a resume is a real perk.

So how do you, yourself become code literate? Learning computer languages has been compared to studying foreign languages, so a lot depends on your style of learning. Some people prefer working independently at their own speed, so online programs such as Codecademy, Codagogy, or Code Avengers work best. Others may learn better in traditional classroom settings. An array of meetup groups can also help newbies get coding.

As a parent with the knowledge and understanding of coding and having the capability to code, helping teach your child learn those same skills and matters is much easier. If our children can learn how to abbreviate their text, text with emoticon, they can learn the fundamentals behind their device and its programming.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

DIY Scarf Hanger

DIY Scarf Hanger

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Unique Gift ~ Infinity Scarf Pattern

Scarfs…What a great accessory, but a pain to store after looking so fabulous in. You can store them in a bin, maybe a dresser drawer or even hang them over a door, chair or stair rail as many people do, but where’s the class and convenience in that? Do you really want to scrimmage through a pile of scarfs, to find that one? Or run around the house trying to find where you placed it? I don’t think so, so first things first….

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • A hanger, or more if needed!
  • One set of shower curtain rings, 10 rings per hanger!
  • Scarfs, of course!

DIRECTIONS:

Even though the photos are pretty self explanatory, I will easily explain! Place shower rings on bottom bar of hanger and latch closed. Pull scarf through ring and hang! Now you’re storing your fabulous scarfs in a fabulous way!

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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

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

Reading Benefits

Read

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

84% of people are reading less and less deeply. The National Endowment for the Art has found that reading has declined among every group of adult Americans. Literacy has been improving in countries like India and China, but that literacy may not translate into more or deeper reading.

People seem to be reading less material particularly unrelated from celebrity gossip, social media or fashion. When was the last time you read a fiction novel, educational book, or a substantial magazine or news article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates or short written text messages? If you’re one of the majority of people who don’t make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out: reading has a significant number of benefits.

More than often, people will tell me that I write too much, which is why they don’t bother to read or even view my site. On average, I write at most, 1000 words. That’s about the same as scrolling down your Facebook wall for 3 minutes. The only difference, I speak upon random, relevant subjects and matters, all in one proportion. My case being, there are differences in materials of reading, and what they offer. I believe, the more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge you’ll ever face.

In this post, I will be brief, so therefore it’s not too much to read. As you read, realize that I’m not wrong for writing much, those who are too lazy to read are in the wrong and need to make the adjusment.

Book Wallpaper - reading Wallpaper

As adults, whether parents or not, we need to set by example for any child, how essential and great reading is. I personally believe, not enforcing a child to participate in creative and productive reading, or setting by example, is terrible leadership of the essential reading habits a child should inquire. We want our children to read so they can build a productive vocabulary, an advanced imagination, and not only learn to make decisions now, but continue to make more.

It is not only healthy for you to read, but it gives your child the illusion of how important, and great it can be so they will continue as adults. It also shows that the existence and importance of reading outside of school is not a delusion, but a continuing part, and knowledge builder of life. Reading outside of the classroom will not seem foreign to them if they see it exists.

We teach our children to be leaders, not followers; and good leadership begins with gaining relevant information that is provided through reading and example.

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Leadership benefits of reading are actually wide-ranging. Evidence suggests reading can improve intelligence and lead to innovation and insight. Reading makes you smarter through a larger vocabulary, and more world knowledge in addition to the abstract reasoning skills. It is one of the quickest ways to acquire and assimilate new information. The more one reads, both adults and children, the more words they gain exposure to, and enhance their everyday vocabulary.

Reading not only helps build a child’s future leadership skills overall, it allows more effectiveness in leading others. Reading increases verbal intelligence, making a leader a more adept, and articulate communicator. Reading novels can improve empathy and understanding of social cues, allowing the average person, parent and leader to better work with and understand others.

I personally believe that reading across fields is good for creativity, and offers a larger decisions bracket to create and choose from. Leaders who can sample insights in other fields, such as sociology, the physical sciences, economics, or psychology, and apply them to the organizations or movements that they are leading, are more likely to innovate and prosper.

These deep, broad reading habits one must acquire as an adult, if haven’t during childhood already, are often a defining characteristic of our greatest leaders, and can catalyze insight, innovation, empathy, and personal effectiveness. An active literary life can also make you more personally effective by keeping you relaxed and improving health; as reading for only six minutes can reduce stress by 68%.

Some studies suggest reading may even fend off Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, extending the longevity of the mind.

Any business person (leader), understands that heightened emotional and mental intelligence will improve his or her leadership and management ability, along with parenting and running a household.

There are still many more reading benefits, but this is a short post.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

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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.

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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

Deadly Tragedy in Pakistan

PreK, then K-12 equals 14 years of guaranteed FREE education for every child in this country. It is not only our rights as Americans, but an opportunity camouflaged by law. Too many people are taking for granted our education system that many others would do anything to take advantage of. While too many Americans settle for a GED, refugees and immigrants are fleeing their countries and are earning the Masters and Doctoral available on our home land. It is by law we get an education. However, for many others around the world, it is only a hope and a dream.…..Samantha Jonas-Rongo

A soldier escorts schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

schoolchildren from the Army Public School that is under attack by Taliban gunmen in Peshawar

Deadly Tragedy in Pakistan

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

The Pakistan Taliban shouted, “God is great” as they made their way rampant through Army Public School and Degree College in Peshawar, Pakistan. They came in with enough ammunition and other supplies to last for days and were not expecting to come out alive, according to a Pakistani military official.

145 people, all mostly children were killed in the shootings. The schools principal was a victim of the tragedy along with a couple of teachers, including a teacher who was shot, then burned to death and the 7 Taliban extremist who all wore suicide bombs.

While children were in class at 10am in Pakistan,12am US (ET),  a car exploded behind the school. Pakistani education minister Muhammad Baligh Ur Rehman explained to CNN that the blast was meant to divert the attention of the school’s security guards before the attack.

Policemen stand beside empty coffins at the hospital after an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School in Peshawar

DR. Aamir Bilal of Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, cited students that gunmen got over the walls and walked through where students in grades 8 through 10 were having classes and fired randomly.

14-year-old Ahmed Faraz who was shot in the attack told CNN that he and others were in an auditorium when 4 to 5 people swarmed through a backdoor, and started shooting rapidly.

As ninth-grader Ahmed and the other children hid in the auditorium, the gunman swarmed in and one of them told the others that a lot of the children were hiding under the benches.

“kill them”, he then said according to Ahmed.

The gunmen then climbed the benches and started firing at the children.

Shahrukh Khan, 17, said a gunman had entered his classroom and opened fire at random. As he hid under a desk, he saw his friends being shot, one in the head and one in the chest. Two teachers were also killed.

Other children who escaped say the militants went from one classroom to another, shooting indiscriminately.

Pakistani authorities spent Tuesday night inside Army Public School and Degree College looking for survivors, victims and improvised explosive devices planted to worsen the carnage.

Men move bodies of students, who were killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in an ambulance outside a hospital in Peshawar

Men move bodies of students, who were killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in an ambulance outside a hospital in Peshawar

Even Taliban militants in neighboring Afghanistan decried the killing spree, calling it “un-Islamic.”

This gruesome attack has been labeled as a response and revenge for the recent Nobel Peace Prize given to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for female education, the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate, and victim of the Taliban’s violence. (For those who haven’t read, “I am Malala”, you need too. I have and she is an amazing and inspiring young woman with such a great story and hope for the future all man kind. She is not only an exceptional role model, she is someone who we all need to know about and teach our children. I will actually attach a link at the bottom of this page so you can purchase her book.)

She was awarded for her work against the “suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”, and victim of the Taliban’s violence.

Malala_Yousafzai_at_Girl_Summit_2014

Malala Yousafzai 2014

“I am heartbroken by this senseless and cold-blooded act of terror in Peshawar that is unfolding before us,” Yousafzai said in a statement.

“Innocent children in their school have no place in horror such as this,” she continued. “I condemn these atrocious and cowardly acts and stand united with the government and armed forces of Pakistan whose efforts so far to address this horrific event are commendable.”

She concluded: “I, along with millions of others around the world, mourn these children, my brothers and sisters – but we will never be defeated.”

On any typical day, the school is home to about 1,100 students and staff, most of them sons and daughters of army personnel from around Peshawar. A Taliban spokesman told BBC Urdu that the school, which is run by the army, had been targeted in response to military operations. Hundreds of Taliban fighters are thought to have died in a recent offensive in North Waziristan and the nearby Khyber.

If the Pakistani Taliban extremists had hoped the attack would cause the government to ease off its military offensive that began in June in the country’s tribal region, it appeared to have the opposite effect. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif pledged to step up the campaign, along with U.S. drone strikes; as targeted the militants.

Samantha Jonas-Rongo

Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in Peshawar

Rescue workers and family members carry the coffin of a student, who killed during an attack by Taliban gunmen on the Army Public School, in Peshawar

Click here to read the first 21 pages of “I Am Malala”

Click here to purchase “I Am Malala”