Lifestyle

Uber Goals for My Dad

Thursday, June 9th, 2016
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My handsome dad.

My eighty-five-year-old father wants to be an Uber driver.

You chuckle at the absurdity of this statement. At eighty-five most people have long given up their precious driver’s licenses. They have, of necessity, given in to the decline of sight, hearing, and reflexes. Not my father.

My dad had a tough upbringing, raised during the Depression in the stereotypical single mother scenario. My father had to face challenges his entire life. I won’t list them here. He never wanted pity, only an opportunity to work hard and create a better life for his family.

In order to best describe my dad I will ask you to recall the character Clint Eastwood portrayed in Gran Torino. My father is not politically correct. He believes one of the greatest things wrong with America is political correctness. “Tell it like it is… if something smells say it smells!” And like Clint’s character in the movie he has a very nice lawn that happens to be on the main road sans sidewalk. He may not threaten you with a shotgun if your dog poops on it, but he has a hose and he’s not afraid to use it.

Which brings me back to the Uber driver conversation. After a long explanation of what an app was and how this particular one worked, my father sat back in his recliner and became thoughtful. We could see his mind working. He had driven every type of car and delivery truck during his lifetime. He knew the New Jersey highway system like the back of his hand. What a great way to earn a little money on the side to supplement Social Security and V.A. benefits.

“I could do that,” he said with confidence. “I’ve been a professional driver all my life.”

Imagine the scenario. I can hear my dad muttering about the “bananas” driving on the Turnpike on the trip to the airport. Wondering aloud why taxpayers had to pay for five construction workers to stare into a hole on the side of the road. Complaining to his incredulous passengers about the traffic while Johnny Cash plays on the car stereo. Or, for a change of pace, perhaps he would treat his passengers to the bagpipes. The Black Watch is my personal favorite, a relaxing selection of sweet melodies he blasted when we were kids to get us up in the morning. The consensus is that his career as an Uber driver would either last for one day, or he would become famous and be featured on 60 Minutes. Either way, my father is honest about who he is. His life was dedicated to making his children’s future brighter. I never saw anyone work harder or fight harder for the American Dream.

So what do you give a man like this for Father’s Day? My dad likes to eat, so this is easy. I will send him a selection from Omaha Steaks. He reminded me the last time that he really liked the malt ball ice cream.

I haven’t talked about my husband, the amazing father to my children. He is a modest, unselfish man who loves his family first and Rutgers University second… especially the football team. This fall he will be taking a couple of trips up to games, and my gift to him is the correct size carry-on. His job is to find one he likes, and Nordstrom has a great selection to choose from. He also gets to pick the Italian meal he wants, eggplant or ziti. With meatballs, of course.

How about the dad in your life? My number one suggestion is a Shinola watch. Made in Detroit, it is a quality timepiece with a classic, clean clock face. It comes in many colors and strap combinations. I am happy to help you choose the perfect watch for the dad in your life.

Happy Father’s Day from your Nordstrom jewelry stylist,

Lois Lewandowski

 

Instagram: random acts of style

Linked In: Lois Lewandowski

 

 

 

 

 

A One-Word Mantra for 2016

Friday, January 15th, 2016
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kovar fitness.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Kovar fitness.

Get comfortable and close your eyes.

Breathe deeply and relax.

Hear the sounds around you.

Feel your body as it presses down into the floor.

 

 

 

Let the sounds and feelings float around you.

Don’t fight them. They are what they are.

Ask a question

What one word in 2016 will be the one that I need to focus on?

What one word will help to address an important area of “me” that needs work?

I tried this mental exercise the other day in my yoga class and, not surprisingly, my mind decided to have a bit of fun with me. The first word that popped into my head was money. Hah, hah.

Of course, money can solve many surface problems. You can go through life with outward panache, drunk with your monetary good fortune—inwardly unhappy and without direction. You can sleep fitfully on a mattress filled with hundred dollar bills.

I complemented my brain on its sense of humor.

Let’s try this again.

More deep breathes.

Ah, here it is. So simple and yet so true.

Flexibility.

I am a black and white person… most of the time. Analytic. And passionate about a subject once I have done the research that leads me to a specific conclusion.

But the world as we know it contains many shades of grey.

I need to consider the grey while I maintain the standards I set for myself.

Perhaps, accepting a bit of grey will lead to greater success in 2016. I have served myself a plate heaped with entreés. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thank you, brain. Flexibility is the word I was looking for. Now if I could only get into a double pidgeon…

 

 

Be a Caller Not a Callee

Friday, January 8th, 2016
Friendship

Friendship

Do you know that I think about you?

Probably Not.

We haven’t established a psychic connection that I’m aware of. My inability to communicate with you in the manner of Charles Xavier of the X Men has forced my hand.

My first New Year’s Resolution is one that will add great pleasure to my life. I have resolved to scour my phone contacts and reach out to those people I miss. The communication may be a text. It may be a phone call. It may be a silly card that I see in the store. Most importantly, there will be one person every week that I will check-in with.

I’m not particularly good at outreach. I admire those people who seamlessly juggle this type of social activity.  I have a small group of close friends I cherish and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

This ground-breaking idea was a topic of conversation on Wednesday night as I enjoyed dinner with the lovely lady in the photo. We dined at Edison In Tampa, an event that required planning because of the holiday season and our work schedules. What I realized as we conversed easily was how much I missed her, and that I needed to plan my social life as much as I planned my work and writing projects.

So here goes, 2016. My first resolution is to add the richness of friendships rekindled. Life is precious. I am planning on experimenting with the options available in my phone as well as investigating a variety of phone apps that may help.

And if you have felt any tingling of a psychic connection, please let me know. My powers of communication have been re-awakened.

Jewelry Collecting

Thursday, May 14th, 2015
Chanel in a photo from Sleeping with the enemy by Hal Vaughn

Chanel in a photo from Sleeping with the Enemy by Hal Vaughn

 

I am currently reading a biography of Coco Chanel entitled, Mademoiselle. It is a fascinating book, thorough in its coverage of one of my fashion heroes. I highly recommend it. Chanel broke all established rules of design, and her brilliance in creating a new modern style has been well covered by her fans. Her love of costume jewelry was even more interesting considering she owned many precious gems and fine jewelry. She loved her fake pearls and wore them proudly, even defiantly, and often left her real strands in her jewelry box.

I adore jewelry. My short time working at a luxury retailer has brought to my attention an interesting observation—many women have no idea how to collect jewelry. The jewelry is treated as a disposable pleasure, and their frenetic lack of planning results in a mish-mash of pieces that don’t flow together. In my last post I wrote about organizing your jewelry. If you’ve done that now is the time to add a few key pieces to your jewelry collection.

  1. Pearls are a staple in every well-dressed woman’s collection. It doesn’t matter whether they are real or faux; they coordinate with all types of outfits. I love to pair my seventeen-inch necklace with a simple top, jeans and high heels. The same pearls work with a navy or black sheath dress. Incidentally, pearls need to be worn, and should not be stored in your jewelry box because they will dry out. They will darken, and once this has happened there is nothing you can do about it. Because they are a porous shell, nacre, they absorb perfume and lotions, too. Therefore, put them on last, after you have used your hairspray, etc. Add pearls to your jewelry and wear them proudly, just like Coco.
  2. Diamond stud earrings, real or a cubic zirconia substitute, are my second suggestion for an addition to your jewelry collection. I have both, and wear them depending on my mood. My czs are a simple brilliant cut stud, about two carats total in size, and I receive compliments on them all the time. My diamonds are set in a 14k yellow gold and are a bit smaller.
  3. A bracelet stack is the big trend and here is where you can have some fun. You can mix whatever you like—silver and gold, real and faux. Express yourself! I have a couple of different stacks and I love mixing and matching. There is a famous photo of Babe Paley smoking a cigarette, the elegant simplicity of her white dress a backdrop to her elbow high stack. I cannot place the photo in this post, as it is copyright protected. Google it and see.
  4. Your watch is a personal expression of your taste. I sell a lot of watches and am fascinated at how my customers will stare at the watch face as they make their decision. The younger generation is beginning to embrace the watch as an accessory, even as they carry their phone in their hand and can always find the time easily. I also have met people who collect watches, and their inventory shows their appreciation of one of the most important accessories a woman can have.
  5. Silver and gold… you need both! Fashion has for years pushed silver and white gold, but designers like Lana, favored by celebrities and those looking to invest in a special piece, are leading the charge back to yellow gold. I like both silver and gold, and make my choice depending on the outfit.
  6. Fashion jewelry that is trendy is the fun part of the collecting equation. Fashion jewelry doesn’t mean cheap jewelry—it simply means the stones won’t be precious gems, and the metal may be gold vermeil, or plated. The stones can be man made, which is just fine when you’re talking about a line like Kendra Scott. Her jewelry is highly collectable. In this category you can add fabulous statement necklaces, cool cuff bracelets, midi rings—whatever intrigues you.
  7. And speaking of statement jewelry…you need it! It can be the oversized earring or a truly fabulous necklace. Once you have it don’t hide it in a drawer, display it using my suggestions from the post of organizing your jewelry.
  8. Vintage pieces are highly collectible. Brooches, odd necklaces and earrings, whatever catches your eye. Drop a hint to the older women in your family. They probably have drawers full of of pieces they no longer wear. Flea markets and consignment stores are another great place to look for unique pieces.

Have fun and let me know what great pieces you collect.

Unknown

 

 

Path of Life, Part One

Sunday, April 19th, 2015
Alex and Ani Path of Life charm bracelet.

Alex and Ani ‘Path of Life’ charm bracelet.

My job at a luxury retailer has forced me to face a number of issues. Rather than resent the inevitable changes to my writing, lifestyle, and hobbies, I have decided to enjoy the adjustments that are the reality of my new found career.

For example, my job is forty-five minutes from home. With this commute included, I am now working over a forty-hour week. I’m on my feet most of the time, and that adds a smidgen of physical stress to the mix. The two days off per week cannot possibly accommodate all the things I need to do—that is, if I stubbornly stick to the old program. This is a new phase in my life, and I intend to celebrate it.

The company Alex and Ani has made a business of providing bracelets with charms that reflect this spirit. Sold in silver or gold, they celebrate the events or accomplishments in our lives. Many of my customers are obsessed by them and stack the bracelets high up their arm.

There is a particular charm, Path of Life, which is a favorite. It celebrates the highs and lows of life, the flow of all things into each other as we take our individual journey. I have grown to appreciate the truth behind this charm and how it describes my own life. Specifically, and for the purpose of this post, the change in my free hours has forced me to re-evaluate my garden.

I love flowers and plants. When we moved to Florida, and I took a hiatus from corporate life, I was determined to have a rose garden. My life-long dream to harvest my own roses turned into a nightmare of spraying chemicals and fighting the naturally hot and humid conditions of a subtropical climate. After a few years of heavy labor, I gave in and let the roses go—gently—as they had become my children. One remains, a tough climber who refuses to die.

I gravitated to orchids, as they are much better suited to the moist conditions. I have had phenomenal success. Slowly, I have changed the landscaping around my home, choosing specimens that require no chemicals and thrive in the heat and humidity. I also have to deal with pesky rabbits, inquisitive deer, and nervy squirrels. The squirrels eat everything. Yesterday I saw one sitting on the corner of the lanai screen munching on a deadheaded bird of paradise. He turned it round and round like an ear of corn. It was good information, and I realize that if he could support his weight on the plants I wouldn’t have a single flower.

Rosemary works quite well in discouraging pesky vermin, and it loves the hot conditions. Years ago I cut out a picture from the newspaper and have had it pinned to the bulletin board in the laundry room. Its prescience interests me, because it shows perfectly the Mediterranean/ Provençal look I am going for. All these plants are rather low maintenance but lush and welcoming. The landscaping solution was waiting for me years before I really needed it. It’s funny how that happens. Have a beautiful day.

The landscape look I am working toward.

The landscape look I am working toward.

Jewelry Care and Organization

Friday, April 10th, 2015
An snazzy idea on Pinterest.

A snazzy idea on Pinterest.

I was talking to a customer the other day in the jewelry department where I work and it occurred to me that many women face the same problem when it comes to the baubles we’ve collected. After a lovely conversation with this classy lady, I decided to pen this post. So pour yourself a glass of your favorite adult beverage, turn on some classic jazz like Duke Ellington, and follow my advice for getting the most out of your fashion and fine jewelry collection.

Don’t you feel great after you organize a closet in your home that has gotten out of control? I do. I have to admit that one of my favorite parts of Downtown Abbey is seeing how organized everything is—from the silver pantry to the armoires. Since I don’t plan on employing a butler anytime soon these tasks are left to my husband and me.

You will be amazed at what you will discover in your drawers and closets that you forgot you owned. As a sales associate in a jewelry and watch department, I can tell you that all jewelry, from fashion to fine, is expensive and worth your time and effort. Tory Burch and Kate Spade earrings start at forty dollars per pair. Many of the styles I am selling at work are copies of the earrings I wore in the eighties. If you are a hoarder like me the originals may very well be in a box at the back of the nightstand drawer.

  1. Before you dump the contents of your jewelry box and drawers and have at it I suggest you spend an hour poking around Pinterest. There are amazing ideas about organizing everything in creative and visibly pleasing ways. You don’t need to buy a book on organization. Here is a link to some of the Pins I love. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/61783826112040709/ I call this board Upcycle and DIY.
  2. After you’ve figured out how you want to reorganize your jewelry go and purchase your supplies. As you saw on Pinterest you can display your jewelry and see it both as art and as inspiration for a new look. Make your plan and have fun! The sky is the limit. Even if you don’t wear the earrings or necklaces at the moment they can be displayed. Some of the ideas you will find are stunning.
  3. Dump all your jewelry on a sheet on your bed. Begin to sort through it making piles for brooches, necklaces, earrings, etc. Place jewelry that needs to be cleaned or repaired in a separate area.
  4. Begin to move your pieces to the new flat organizers, plastic stacking drawers, bonsai trees, hooks, etc. Place all sterling silver pieces in the original specially treated pouches they came in, if you have them, or use an old silver chest. Silver tarnishes very easily and it is a good idea to protect it so that when you want to wear it you only need to run a special cloth over it. Only use the treated cloths, do not use any of the methods on the Internet that involve hot water and aluminum foil. This method can loosen stones and damage your fine jewelry.
  5. Keep all jewelry that requires deep cleaning or repair in a separate box. I take a piece of this out when I’m watching TV and clean it at my leisure. Then, I replace it with the newly organized baubles. This makes the project less of a chore. You should also keep a container of liquid jewelry cleaner like Wright’s in your closet. Do not use this on pearls or emeralds. Read the instructions carefully.
  6. Pearls should be stored separately in a soft, fine jewelry box.
  7. Make a shopping list of the pieces you would like to add to your collection and keep it on your phone. We tend to buy the same things over and over again. Having a list helps to remind us of what we need to round out our collection.
  8. Develop a relationship with a sales person you trust and seek their advice about what pieces you should add. One of my favorite responsibilities in my new job is to style a customer’s outfit. “I have this dress for an event…” are words I love to hear. Coordinating the jewelry and accessories for an ensemble is heaven.

Let me know how you organize your collection. Here is another photo on Pinterest I love.

Another great idea for necklace storage.

Another great idea for necklace storage.

 

Passage to Belize

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

915GRoQER-L._SL1500_Today is my husband’s birthday. As a present for him and the family I have written a short memoir-vignette about a trip I took with his mother. Even if you didn’t have the pleasure of knowing Rose Marie I hope you will download it. If you have had the honor and privilege of taking care of an aging parent you will understand this memory. Enjoy

http://www.amazon.com/Passage-Belize-L-Lewandowski-ebook/dp/B00NQEZT1W/

 

Kate Spade Designs For… Me!

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Lois is not a common name. Long before the Family Guy I thought my name was boring. I wanted to be named something exotic like Alexandra, or Bianca.

So, thank you Kate Spade for making me feel better about my dull name. I love this iPhone case and hope Santa will put it in my stocking.

Lois J iPhone case

If you want to buy this for a Lois you love go here 

Where Has All The Fashion Gone?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Runway ready at the Hunter's Green fashion show.

Greetings fashionistas!

I have not meant to abandon this aspect of the blog. I have not stopped studying fashion trends, shopping for the perfect shoes and handbag, or sold the archives to live naked on a south sea island. I have been crazy busy. A second book will be released before the end of the month. I am writing for an independently published writers site. My son started college.

And, I have been bitten by the Pinterest bug.

This is not a bad thing. Pinterest is a visual social media mecca where pinners can create their own bulletin boards and follow the boards of others. Better yet, pinners can repin a photo that they like to one of their own boards. It is a seductive and brilliant concept.

My fashion obsession resides, for the moment, on several boards under my profile picture. I spend a few minutes every day playing there, checking out what the pinners in my network are repinning. I need to limit myself on the time I spend there because it is easy to get lost.

What boards have I created to confess my current fashion obsessions? How about “Holy Handbag”, “Sublime Shoes”, “My Style” and “Jewelry”. If you are on Pinterest please look for me under my profile name Lois Lewandowski.

Meet you there!

With hairstylist Tava.

 

 

Woman of the month: Artist Kimberli Burns Cummings

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Kim holds a gorgeous one-of-a-kind creation.

I will be adding a new, once a month feature to the Culture and Cuisine Club.com.  This new feature will profile a local Tampa Bay business woman.  The qualifications are simple:  The CCC’s Woman of the Month’s achievements are the result of her own creativity, hard work, and entrepreneurial skills.  She is someone who lives her dreams, and has never compromised on the things she prizes most in life.  She is a mentor and friend to those lucky enough to be included in her exciting, magic circle. She is an inspiration.

Kimberli Burns Cummings is our inaugural Woman of the Month.  Kimberli began her love for pottery at Tampa’s Clay Factory in 1991 where she studied with many local and internationally recognized potters. She learned RAKU (in Japanese, means ‘to have fun‘) with Robert Piepenberg, organic forms with Paul Soldner and Peter Voulkos (American Modern Masters),  structure and form from Hyde Park Studio’s Scott L. Aubrey. She also studied with the late Rudy Autio (Archie Bray Foundation). Summer 2009 she learned to master her Majolica art form at Arrowmont Art School from the best; Linda Arbuckle.

Kimberli’s current work uses majolica glazes in the depiction of organic forms of her native Florida. She sculpts gardens of fruit, landscapes of fish, Florida sunsets and tango dancers. Spring 2009 she represented Tampa as a potter on HGTV’s That’s Clever! demonstrating how to make a Tango Dancer dance!

The Tango dancers.

Born and raised in Tampa, Fl. Kimberli graduated from H.B. Plant High and University of South Florida in 1995. After an extended acting career both in Tampa and Los Angeles (among a few; Gidget’s best friend on The New Gidget Show, Knot’s Landing, Enos, Ace Crawford;Private Eye with Tim Conway, Superboy and Second Noah ) she moved back to Tampa in 1989. Concurrent with her art, Kimberli has a successful skin care business at Faces Of South Tampa.

If this isn’t enough for you, Kim maintains a stunning English garden surrounding her thoughtfully decorated South Tampa home. Her Halloween party is always a much sought after invitation because of her bubbly personality and infectious sense of fun.  Please join me in congratulating Kim on her accomplishments, and please support your local artists!  Kim can be reached at kimberli@mac.com or www.kimberlipottery.net.

The University of Tampa.