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Lisa Gartner, Times Staff Writer

Lisa Gartner

Lisa Gartner covers Pinellas County Schools, colleges and universities. Before joining the Times in 2013, Lisa covered D.C. Public Schools for The Washington Examiner. Herself a product of Florida public schools, Lisa grew up in Palm Beach County. She attended Northwestern University after purchasing a very heavy coat.

Phone: (727) 893-8707


Twitter: @LisaGartner

  1. Happy birthday, blue jeans


    On May 20, 1873, Levi Strauss patented an idea for a working pant that would go on to become a cultural instutition right up there with apple pie, baseball, and resigning office in scandal.

    We're talking about you, blue jeans. Happy birthday!

    And a birthday, of course, is nothing without a gift.

    Levi's is offering 50 percent off its 501 tees with purchase of any pair of jeans....

  2. Why putting off a pricey purchase isn't always a good bet


    "Oh man, I have so much money," is not a sentence I have ever passed a lie detector with.

    I pay my bills, the roof is over my head, the food is good and plenty. But sometimes even I am impressed with my paycheck's ability to spend itself. Lately, it's been a mix of fun reasons (bachelorette weekend for a good friend!) and hit-your-forehead-against-the-wall reasons (replace ALL the car parts!)....

    I went years on years on years before replacing my sneakers. But they ended up not costing a fortune at all, and my beagle approves.
  3. J.McLaughlin honors moms with a gift card giveaway


    Moms are pretty great. They care for you. They support you. They let you live inside of them for nine months and don't make you pay rent for it, even if the pregnancy is taking place in New York City, an unsustainable housing market.

    J.McLaughlin in Hyde Park Village is giving away $25 gift certificates to the first 10 customers on May 9 in honor of Mother's Day. (Public service announcement: Mother's Day is May 10.) They open at 10 a.m., so grab your mom and get shopping - or go solo and surprise her with the gift card and some merch come Sunday....

  4. A white whale no more: second-day hair just as pretty as when it was clean


    It is high time we had a serious conversation, and it is called "What Is Up With Your Day 2 Hair Game?"

    For years, I floundered to style my hair on "Day 2" - the day after you've washed your hair, when you know you shouldn't wash it again. As science tells us, washing your hair every day isn't necessarily good for it, and actually makes it greasier over time. That means my Day 1 hair is a perfect blowdry and flat iron job, but for years my Day 2 game has been ratty ponytails, messy buns that look more hopeless than artful, and re-straightened hair that never lives up to the glory of its Day 1 self....

    On Day 1, you washed your hair and styled it just the way you wanted. But are you on top of your Day 2 hair?
  5. Removing insult from injury, or: How to Conceal Your Unsightly Knee Brace


    Lately I have been wearing a knee brace, and it is for the worst kind of injury: a boring one.

    I don't really know how I messed up my knees. I am not athletic and I didn't save a cat from a tree (I do not even like cats). But here I am, regardless, wearing a black and gray knee sleeve or, on some days, taped-up knees from physical therapy.

    Although I'm thrilled with the pain relief these measures have provided, they are quite ugly, and my fashion goal this week has been covering them up. On Monday, I turned to a flowy brown maxi skirt patterned with beige flowers. I picked it up a year or so ago at a Salavation Army in St. Pete, and it's turned into a favorite for lazy weekends at the Saturday Morning Market....

    As beautiful as this knee sleeve is, you may find in your heart of hearts that you want to conceal it while going about your daily life. Click through to see how I've been handling that.
  6. My Outfit Monday: Meeting Bern's dress code for less than the price of a steak


    Not too long ago, my gentleman caller had a birthday. And in my everlasting pursuit of winning all the Girlfriend Awards, I took him to Bern's.

    People tend to land on various sides of the Bern's spectrum, but I've fallen hook and sinker for the Bern's experience - because sure, maybe you can get a more inventive meal somewhere else, but Bern's is an experience, more than a meal. You go to an entirely different floor for dessert; you stay there for three hours; you dress up all fancy-like to meet the Bern's dress code....

    Dress, earrings, bag and shoes cost less than our meal at Bern's. I had to recreate the outfit for this photo, because we didn't take any pictures that night.
  7. April sales so good you'll forget hypothetical posting lapses, honestly none come to mind


    Keen observers of the Deal Diva condition may have noticed that yesterday, Wednesday, was my assigned posting day and yet I, Diva Lisa, did not post.

    Well, I have a very good reason. And it's not that I'm lazy and distractible and I'll never be marriage stock, okay, grandma? I'll call you back.

    Rather, it was a hilarious April Fool's joke. Man, did I get all of you.

    Lies aside, I'm coming back swinging this Thursday with sales so good they must be a joke on this otherwise very serious April 2....

    Love these Loft dresses but don't want to fork over the $89.50? You don't have to. All Loft dresses are 50 percent off (in-store only) for a limited time.
  8. Workout clothes that won't thin your wallet


    I recently started exercising, a sentence I have said so many times in my life that a guffawing studio audience should follow me around. But this time I'm sticking with it! [they laugh]

    I joined a fitness studio where I pay out the butt for small classes with a personal trainer who designs intense workouts. Because I have to sign up for each pricy session, I am actually getting out of bed and going. To put it in other words, suck it, studio audience. [they boo]...

    This exercise tee is $7.99 at Kohl's, because you should be burning calories, not your credit line.
  9. On Wednesdays, we wear struggle


    You know how sometimes your apartment can pass for a crime scene and not even the white-collar kind? Well it's that kind of Wednesday for me. Not only is it the cruelest day of the week, but I'm not feeling well, work deadlines are looming hard, and my folks are getting into town in mere hours - while my apartment is calling out for Olivia Benson*....



    You know how sometimes your friends say "Free coffee!" and point and you look but it's only a ruse to eat some of your sandwich? WELL THIS IS NOT ONE OF THOSE TIMES. And also your friends are kind of mean. BUT ON TO THE NEWS:

    Kahwa, beloved local coffee purveyor, has opened its seventh Tampa Bay location inside Bob Lee's Tires (1631 4th Street North), and is giving out free coffee all day for the next several days....

    My dog, Landon, checks the quality of the beans.
  11. It's spraaang break, y'all (and yet we are grown-ups)


    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and naturally, I am talking about spring break. What did you think this was? A blog about literature? Please.

    Come mid-March, Tampa Bay beaches always become ground zero for bikini bods, beer funnels and other hallmarks of an ancient college ritual called "Miller Time."

    But for real-life adult humans who actually exist here year-round, spring break is a time of eye-rolling and hiding; do not take your 8-year-old to Clearwater Beach, for instance, unless you want him to later ask you what it means to "hit it and quit it."

    The end result is that we, effectively, do not have spring break. But that doesn't mean we can't get in the spirit just a little bit. And what better way than through our clothes?...

    Belt a neutral dress with this hot pink number from Target for $12.99 and suddenly you're drinking a daiquiri in a plastic chair.
  12. The Bachelor contestants' budget-friendly buys


    Confession time, y'all: I watch The Bachelor. I would say it's a guilty pleasure but I've lost the guilt element: There's nothing more watch-worthy in my book than people genuinely trying to fall in love, and also people genuinely crying in rugged terrain while helicopters abandon them on opposite sides of mountains....

    Kaitlyn was stunned when she was eliminated in Bali. I was stunned when I learned her "camping steez" was from H&M.
  13. Kate Spade Saturday offers 40 percent off as it closes


    Most of you by now have heard the thunderclap in the arena signaling that Kate Spade Saturday has been killed by another tribute. At the end of January, the high-end brand announced it would close all 19 Kate Spade Saturday retail and partner stores by summer, leaving its website active in the meantime....

    Customize your own The Custom Weekender bag on for $220 (or $132 with discount). I mocked this one up with my initials. There's also a smaller version available for a little less.
  14. Federal discrimination complaint filed over alleged assault of girl at middle school


    Times Staff Writers

    A couple who says their 12-year-old daughter was sexually assaulted during band class at John Hopkins Middle School last month filed a discrimination complaint against the school Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

    The girl's mother, Annette Vedsegaard-Ross, wrote in the complaint that her daughter was targeted because she is female and that the attackers likely knew she suffers from a hearing disability. The Tampa Bay Times reported Jan. 30 that the family believes the Pinellas County School District and John Hopkins administrators attempted to minimize the assault to protect the school's reputation....

  15. Looking for home decor? Try your clothes


    I am finally in that stage of my life where I know it's frowned upon to go to Goodwill and buy a new pair of jeans instead of just going to the damn laundromat. So I started going to the laundromat every week -- just kidding, I moved to an apartment with a washer-dryer! I am a child.

    While moving is stressful (I timed mine around Christmas, to impress the Olympic judges), I really love getting to decorate my new place. My old stuff, some from six apartments ago, finds new life and use in each home. I have a heavy old bookcase that's taken turns as a dish display case and a bath towel organizer. It's fun making everything fit....

    Your hat collection could make for a neat display.