Angela Ardolino
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Wednesday
May182016

Behind the Scenes: May Extraordinary Woman Photo Shoot

Every month, we showcase the extraordinary women in Tampa Bay that make a difference in not only the lives of their families, but the lives of those in the community. In May, we met an incredible woman named Katharine Eagan. She is not only the CEO of Hillsborough Area Regional Transit (HART), but she is also a loving mother and wife. 

We met up with her at the HART office in Ybor City for Tampa Bay Parenting's May Extraordinary Woman photoshoot with our photographer Jeanine McLeod of Cloud 9 Studios

HART transports thousands of people a day through buses and streetcars. 

Eagan modeled some of her favorite scarves while we waited for the streetcar. 

The driver of the streetcar was nice enough to let us jump on-board and snap some photos. 


Eagan was cracking jokes with the streetcar riders and making everyone smile while Jeanine snapped her photos. 

 Jeanine snapped a picture of us before the streetcar departed.

Before we finished, we made a stop at the Jose Marti park in Ybor City. 

I snapped a photo by the Cuba wall in the park. 

Jeanine took a few last photos of Eagan. 

To read Katharine Eagan's Extraordinary Woman feature, click here. For more exclusive photos, visit Photosoncloud9.com

Wednesday
May182016

Grow an Organic Pizza Garden!

What kid doesn’t love pizza?  The gooey cheese, chunky tomato sauce, bits of oregano, parsley and basil all combined and spread onto an oven-baked flat bread. Usually on pizza nights, parents might call their local pizza restaurant and get delivery or grab a DiGiorno pizza from the fridge. But by taking this option it’s not easy to know what’s really in the food you are eating.

There is a safer solution: growing all these ingredients in your garden. For one, you won’t have to worry about pesticides and hidden chemicals in your food. The dangers of ingesting pesticides can cause damage to the nervous system and live in your kids intestines for years. 

An easy way to get your kids to start gardening is by creating an organic pizza garden with herbs and veggies that are commonly found on pizza. The most commonly used pizza herbs and veggies are basil, parsley, oregano, onions, tomatoes, and peppers which we will be sticking with. So grab your little one and get ready to get messy!

Before you start growing, it’s important to find the perfect seeds. I recommend using High Mowing Organic seeds, which are 100 % organic.

It’s important to think about what soil you want to use. Stay away from soils enriched with chemicals and to opt for healthy soil and compost. I have found healthy soils and fertilizers from Worm’s Way are a great solution.

Bugs can become a problem with growing an organic garden put you can plant a few flowers that beneficial insects will love-- they will help keep the pesky bugs away.

Also, pay attention to the amount of water and sunlight that your seeds will need to grow.

Basil is one of the easier herbs to grow and is relatively low-maintenance. For instructions on how to grow basil visit the link above.

For tomatoes if you can stick with organic Roma tomatoes as they tend to be ripe all at one time. This can be better for kids who tend to be impatient for results. Gardening Know How mentions that these tomatoes are easier to grow because they are resistant to funguses like fusarium and verticillium wilt.

Before planting make sure you leave two feet between each plant to allow them to grow. Make sure buy or make your own tomato cage which are made from chicken wire or concrete reinforcement wire. Prune away any non-flowering stems to help the plant focus its energy on fruit production. Once the Roma tomatoes are 6-12 inches off the ground start staking the tomatoes. Once the tomato is completely red it is ready to be picked.

The next ingredient you need for your garden is parsley, which is great on pizzas as a decorative garnish. It generally take 70 to 90 days for planting and growing parsley to take place so make sure to remind your kids to be patient with this herb. It is recommended that you plant it near a tree so it can receive 6 to 8 hours of full sun and can receive shade during the hottest times of the day. Once the plants reach 4 to 6 inches tall they are ready to be harvested.

Plant oregano in light, well-drained soil. Spacing is very important too, make sure to plant 8 to 10 inches apart. This herb needs to get lots of sunshine as the flavors will intensify when it receives a full day of sun light. Also don’t overwater oregano. Instead water only when the soil is dry to the touch. The good thing about oregano is its tick foliage provides humidity which supports peppers growth, according to The Kitchn. When it reaches eight inches tall, cut back up to 2/3 of the plant as it encourages new growth. Once harvested dehydrating is a good way to preserve oregano which can also be done by hanging up your oregano to dry.

For the last ingredient peppers it’s best to soak your seeds as the peppers will be less stressed allowing them to grow bigger according to On the Green Farms. When the seed is planted, water them with at least an inch of water once a week. Peppers generally need a minimum of 10 hours of light. Try to keep this herb farther from tomatoes as they are prone to the same diseases as peppers.

You can also make your garden look like a pizza by creating a garden in a circular shape and dividing each section into a slice of pizza. If you do this make sure the peppers and tomatoes farther apart. Show off your garden when your friends and family come to visit. Your child will be proud to show off their hard work. Also the attention given to the garden will be the best motivator to keep them continuously involved in gardening.

For additional information on organic food visit

DIY Beautiful Basil

Guide to Organics in the Bay

Organic Products:

Happy Family Pouches

Water Garden  

Monday
May162016

8 Smart College Grad Money Moves

Student loan debt is a stressful financial reality for the millions of young adults who are graduating this year, and it keeps getting worse. In fact, this year's  college graduates will leave school with an average of $37,172 in debt -- a new record high, according to a recent report

The standard repayment plan for bachelor degree student loans is 10 years, but it takes the average person twice that due to the life events that typically occur  over the course of a decade. While these stats are discouraging, it's ultimately within each graduate's control to pay off their student debt faster by adopting the  following eight smart money moves after college.

1. Don't ignore your debt.
Wishing you didn't have debt is understandable, but ignoring it will only cause bigger problems. Late payments can devastate your credit score and make it very difficult  to obtain loans. If you can't afford payments, you may qualify for a financial hardship deferment (available only for federal loans). Call your loan provider to explain  your situation so that he or she can help set up a repayment plan that works for you. You may even qualify for a student loan forgiveness program, so check out more  details at The College Investor

2. Limit lifestyle inflation.
Upon landing your first job out of school, you may feel tempted to "treat yo'self" and go on a spending binge. After all, you spent years eating ramen noodles and living  in tight quarters, so you've earned the right to splurge, right? The trick to getting out of debt faster and paving a secure financial future is to keep costs low for  now, however, so rein in the desire to upgrade everything you purchase.  

3. Create an emergency fund.
An emergency fund will ensure you have liquid cash to pay for unexpected issues, like a car accident or dental procedure, which could otherwise increase your credit card  debt and further reduce your ability to make additional payments toward student loans. Cash is a popular graduation gift with 2015 graduates estimated to receive a  collective $4.77 billion in money, gift cards and other tokens of congratulations. Stash that cash into an emergency fund to create the cushion you need to focus your  funds on other debts.

4. Work on the side.
Add to your income by taking on side hustles. If you're skilled at writing, consider freelancing for websites or content creators, or starting your own blog with  affiliate links. Sites like TaskRabbit.com offer a wide range of side gigs for extra cash, while  Rover.com is perfect for dog lovers who have space for boarding.  Making extra money long-term requires time and commitment, but your hard work will pay off when you save tens of thousands of dollars in student loan interest and pay  off your debt in half the time.  

5. Shop smarter.
Reducing your spending completely isn't an option; after all, you still need to eat, pay bills and get to work. However, you can shop and spend smarter to avoid wasting  money. Compare prices using tools like CamelCamelCamel.com or the ShopSavvy app to ensure you're not overpaying for a purchase. Consider buying second-hand as often as  possible for savings of up to 75 percent. And use mobile tools to make saving money easier, like the popular coupon app Coupon Sherpa which offers deals on everything  from apparel to haircuts to auto repair services. 

6. Trim your take out habit.
Eating out every meal will take a huge bite out of your monthly budget. While the occasional happy hour and restaurant outing with friends is okay, make sure you don't  fall into the trap of dining out several times per week. People who bring their lunch to work can save over $2,700 annually, according to a VISA survey conducted in 2015.  Just think how much debt you can pay with that money!

7. Sign up for retirement savings.
Even though retirement feels like a lifetime away, it's imperative to start saving now so you can take advantage of compound interest. If your employer offers to match  your retirement savings up to a certain percentage (typically between 1 and 3 percent), plan to deduct at least that amount from your paycheck so you're not leaving  money on the table. Otherwise, open an IRA account that works best for your situation and include monthly contributions in your budget.

8. Stop letting FOMO rule your finances.
FOMO, or the "fear of missing out," is often the scapegoat for overspending. From expensive vacations to dining out frequently to partying on the weekends, giving in to  FOMO will hinder your ability to stay on budget and pay down debt. While it's okay to take part in the occasional party or weekend getaway, just make sure it's in your  budget. Keep in mind, there will always be opportunities and the sooner you get your finances in order, the sooner you'll be able to enjoy a lifestyle with less monetary  restrictions.  

Andrea Woroch is a money-saving expert who transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers by sharing smart spending tips and personal finance advice.  As a sought-after media source, she has been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, Today, CNN, Dr. OZ, New York Times, MONEY Magazine,  Consumer Reports, Forbes and many more. In addition, Andrea's stories have been published among leading publications and sites such as Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance,  CNN Money, Huffington Post, LearnVest and New York Daily News. Visit her website at AndreaWoroch.com. You  can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily money  tips.