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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. Your jorts and middle-school orchestral band T-shirt have a time and place but it's not at a theme park this weekend okay?


    When I was a kid my parents woke my brother and I up really early, chucked us in the backseat of the car, and told us we were going to the dentist. Boo, we said. Hiss. We fell back asleep under the blankets my parents had tossed in the car with us.

    The car stopped and again we were woken up. But we weren't at the dentist. We were at Disney World.

    A Florida kid with pretty cool parents (hi mom! hi dad!), I had the pleasure of many a trip to Orlando in my day. Whether we were meeting Mickey at Magic Kingdom or hyperventhilating on rollercoasters at MGM, we were just happy to spend a day doing kid stuff in the sun....

    Sunglasses, fun shorts, and rollercoaster-friendly accessories? She's got the right idea for theme park style.
  2. 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....

  3. 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.
  4. 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....

  5. 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....

    Here are my curling wand-induced waves! I just did the ends for a beachy vibe to my Day 2 style.
  6. 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....

    Today I'm wearing a Goodwill skirt that was $4.77 and probably part of a girl's school uniform. I love it. I paired it with a sleevless Banana Republic top with nautical, blue-and-white straps, and my standby brown loafers.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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....

    Kahwa owner Sarah Perrier (no relation to the fancy water, she says) hanging out in her latest storefront.
  12. 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?...

    OPI has a whole neon collection. This hot orange is called "Juice Bar Hopping."
  13. 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....

    Jade, eliminated after her hometown date, models the WINE BACHELOR & YOGA PANTS tank top that we all need in our lives. The $25 tank from Organic Wine Lounge is 10% off with promo code: BACHELOR
  14. 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....

    This houndstooth pencil skirt from J Crew Factory is only $21 with code: HURRYSPRING. It's marked down from $95.
  15. 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....