A Trip to Remember

5 May

My first trip, after not travelling since the pandemic, was to the country of Jordan. I chose this country because my family relocated there. I hardly knew anything about Jordan, and I was stunned to find a beautiful country, wonderful people, fabulous food and exhilarating sites. We stayed in Amman and visited Petra, Wadi Rum, the Dead Sea and Aqaba.

Amman is a typical bustling, major city except for the archaeological site the Citadel perched on a hill. I did not visit it personally, but it was beautiful to see from afar.

A trip to Jordan must include the ancient city of Petra. Although the architecture seems to be Greek and Roman inspired, Petra was built by the Nabateans, an Arab Bedouin tribe. The Romans eventually ruled the city. When you arrive to Petra, the entrance is breathtaking (see photo below).

My family rode on a donkey with a Bedouin guide (below), while I zigzagged through the mountains on a golf cart before I walked the open terrain. For an interesting historical article about the area, read this article from the History channel.

Wadi Rum is the desert with rich, orange sand. The classic movie Lawrence of Arabia was filmed there. We took an all-terrain vehicle on bumpy ride with the backdrop of a mountainous view worthy of a picture postcard. Then we arrived at geodeisic domes (see below) or bubble tents. I guess you can see we went glamping. The arches, mountains and cliffs were breathtaking. Sleeping under the stars was beautiful.

The resort towns in Jordan are luxurious. We stayed in Aqaba with a view of the Red Sea. Then it was off to the Dead Sea, to swim and spa at at a luxury hotel. We treated ourselves to mud baths and sea salts. Please see a photo of my son below. After our spa treatment, my son described us as “glowing.” The photo below does not do it justice as I think we looked washed out!

Even if we did not sparkle, in my opinion, the trip and the adventure did!

You Gotta Have Friends

30 Mar

The Friendship in West Bloomfield, Michigan is an amazing place. The mission is “to create friendship in the lives of children, teens and adults with special needs and those facing isolation while providing opportunities to become contributing members of the community.”

Here is an article about a Friendship Circle event I wrote for the Detroit Jewish News.

Friendship Circle Showcases the Talent from Soul Studio Art Program During Elegant Evening in Palm Beach County

By

 Carla Schwartz

 

Dylan and Jeannine Somberg
Dylan and Jeannine Somberg. (Liza Kue/Friendship Circle)

“Soiree in the Sunshine State” was filled with extraordinary art, food and libations.

“This was a crazy idea we had a year ago, but our friends helped us” said Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Friendship Circle. The rabbi is referencing “Soiree in the Sunshine State,” an event filled with extraordinary art, food and libations. More than 160 patrons and friends attended the event and auction.

The evening began with schmoozing and viewing the exhibition at the Arts Warehouse in Delray Beach, Florida. A variety of media, from oil paintings to ceramics to digital art and more by Soul Studio’s participating artists filled the space. Upon entering the gallery, visitors were handed a booklet of the displayed artwork and an explanation of the artist’s inspirations. The auction raised $33,300.

Friendship Circle, founded in 1994 by Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov in West Bloomfield, is a nonprofit organization that supports children, teens and adults with special needs and their families. One of its many projects is the Vera and Joesph Dresner Foundation Soul Studio. The studio is a professional art space and gallery encouraging the creativity of any individual with cognitive or physical disabilities, regardless of artistic talent. Completed artwork is displayed in a curated exhibition at the studio and other venues.

Left to right: Estelle and Phillip Elkus; Gail Danto and Art Roffey; and Rick and Dana Lowenstein.
Left to right: Estelle and Phillip Elkus; Gail Danto and Art Roffey; and Rick and Dana Lowenstein.

“The vision of the Rebbe inspired us to help one person at a time and to see the bigger picture,” said Bassie Shemtov. “We have many friends in Florida, and we needed to bring the artists and the artwork to the next level,” she added. She described the Arts Warehouse space as a new and exciting platform to showcase the talent.

Artist Dylan Somberg, 28, of Shelby Township, who has autism, had three artworks on display. One was a ceramic clam with a pearl inside and the others were multimedia paintings.

“I just love animals, and I’m very passionate,” Somberg said. One animal painting had a three-dimensional look with turtles, fishes and birds suspended. His fascination with nature and geometric shapes combines many processes and techniques.

Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov
Rabbi Levi and Bassie Shemtov

Dylan’s mom, Jeannine Somberg, praised Friendship Circle and the Soul Studio. “This is a special place, because my son is safe there, and his self-esteem soared,” she said. “I know they don’t see a disability; they see an ability,” she added.

Proud supporters Estelle and Philip Elkus, of Bloomfield Hills and Boca Raton, were part of the host committee and have been involved with Friendship Circle since the beginning. They introduced others to the programs.

“My friends, Estelle and Philip Elkus, took me on a tour of Friendship Circle, and I was amazed,” said Rhoda Tobin, of Orchard Lake.

Rhoda Tobin
Rhoda Tobin

Friendship Circle is a family affair for Gail Danto and her husband, Art Roffey, of Palm Beach Gardens. “We were involved with the Soul Studio when it was just an idea,” Danto said. Her brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Sandy Danto, were also on the host committee.
Dana and Rick Loewenstein, of West Bloomfield, came to support their friend Ron Hodess, who is chairman of the board. The Loewensteins are longtime supporters of people with disabilities and are also supportive of the inclusive environment of the Soul Studio. Rick Loewenstein is the former CEO of JARC.

With the artists, the artwork and all the supportive friends, it’s evident the magic of the Soul Studio came to the Sunshine State. Bassie Shemtov summed up the vision: “Miracles do happen.”

Carla Schwartz is the former editor of Style magazine, a former Jewish News columnist, community relations consultant and blogger. Visit her blog at motownsavvy.com.

Detroit: Fashion Central

27 Feb

My friend and colleague, Chuck Bennett (above), celebrated Black History Month with a presentation of Detroit designers on Fox2Detroit. Some of the designers include: FlyTy, Donovan Dewberry, and William Palmer Homme.

The New York Times recognizes the fashion acumen of Motown. Jessica Iredale wrote about it in the article “Could Detroit be the Next Fashion City,?” Iredale showcases some happenings in Detroit and mentions fashion icons. Of course, there’s Linda Dresner, who ran boutiques in Birmingham, Michigan and New York and promoted designers that become famous. I’ve featured her on my blog here. Iredale talks about how Gucci collaborated with the Detroit Vs. Everybody collection.

Motown is home to many fashion designers including: Tracy Reese, Anna Sui, John Varvatos and the upcoming fashion phenom Carter Altman. Detroiters have always known about Carhartt, based in Dearborn, Michigan since 1889.

If you’re not sure that Detroit is a fashion city, check out Detroit Sewn. Or ask my buddy Chuck Bennett. He can be found on Facebook, Instagram (chuck_bennett) or Mr. ChuckBennett on Twitter.

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Pampering with Heart & Soul

14 Feb

Simply from the Heart is a non-profit foundation that brings complimentary bedside, beauty pampering to patients who are terminally ill or undergoing prolonged hospital stays. Founder Jackelyn Kastanis started the the foundation after the death of her childhood friend Brooke Bolley. Kastasnis was able to lift Booke’s spirit with a glam makeover. The addition of lipstick, hair styling, a coat of nail polished and mini-massages added pleasure and color.

Today Simply from the Heart has served more than 7,000 patients since its inception in 2014. The “Glam Squad,” a group of volunteers, visits the patients with pampering services and then leaves a “Glam Box” filled with more than 25 beauty products.

“We bring a distraction from the treatment and diagnosis and provide human connection and interaction.” says Kastanis.

I personally know Jackelyn Kastanis, and she is a dynamic, passionate founder with a huge heart! And, they service Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Michigan where I was the former director of community affairs for the hospital system.

You can touch the lives of ill children by participating in the upcoming Night of Giving event on Friday, February 18th at 6:30pm located at Paul Labrecque Salon and Spa in The Royal Poinciana Plaza. https://e.givesmart.com/events/p7d/

If you don’t live in the Palm Beach area, you can donate or get involved. Visit the link https://sftheart.org/

Custom Cookies

27 Jan

Looking for a unique, edible gift? Debi’s cookies are scrumptious, and you can decide the graphic to fit your taste buds. Valentine’s Day? No, worries — the heart cookies or the “Be My Valentine” message fits the occasion. Wedding day? Cookies with the photo of the bride and groom can be the giveaway gift. Hobbies? If you are a card shark, a football aficionado or even a fashionista, it’s the perfect hostess or holiday gift, and it’s nut free. The chocolate or vanilla-covered Oreos have a long shelf life, and they are available in white chocolate as well. Debi began this woman-owned, small baking business during COVID.

Here are some examples:

Besides the taste and the customized look, Debi takes the time to make the presentation perfect. It’s wrapped with a gorgeous bow.

“I love that they look so pretty, and they are personal,” says Debi. “It’s not just about the cookies, its a beautiful presentation.”

If you are interested in purchasing Debi’s cookies, please check out her Instagram Debi’s Cookies.

Nail it for the Holidays

18 Dec

Looking for the perfect gift for any age for your sister, mom, daughter, grandmother or even your teenager?

If you just can’t find a gift for the special female in your life, try the Olive and June nail polish kits.

They sent me a holiday package to try (above), and I loved it. The colors are stunning, and the polish is long lasting. It seems the founder, Sarah Gibson Tuttle, is on to something with her mani-system. She has revolutionized the at home manicure with these all inclusive kits, with a step-by-step guide including tools in addition to the polishes.

Sarah Gibson Tuttle switched her career, as she was formerly an equity sales trader at JP Morgan and Morgan and Stanley. True to her business acumen, she includes master classes, and you can even take a self quiz.

And, of course, it can ship overnight. Click here.

Take an Enjoyable Detour

10 Dec

Four of the five writer, (left to right): Marion Phillips, Rosemary Gensler, Nancy Sims and Ellyn Horn Zarek

Make a sharp right turn and get lost in the pages of the novel Detours by five authors. Yes, five–Rosemary Gensler, Phyllis Hoffman, Marion Phillips, Nancy Sims and Ellyn Horn Zarek,

The authors call themselves The Inkslingers as they weaved a story of sisterhood and bonding. Their real-life experience of meeting at a writing workshop became the setting for their book. The five authors collaborated over coffee, jellybeans and other delectable treats.

The women recently spoke at the Mandel JCC in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. This unique collaboration was a labor of love. The authors reminded the audience that the word labor is inside collaboration.

So, start the journey. . .

Oh Savannah

4 Nov

I just returned from Savannah, and I was enthralled with the city. The cultural and historical sites are plentiful. The town squares with the beautiful trees and all the flora and fauna are breathtaking.

As a savvy shopper, I loved the local stores — particularly, Satchel, Savannah Bee Company, Savannah Coffee Roasters and E. Shaver Booksellers.

Satchel is a favorite local store.

Satchel was established in 2006 by Elizabeth Seeger. It’s a hybrid store because it’s part studio and part retail. You can actually watch the leather being cut (see above). What’s great about the handbag is the customization from the color to the leather to the lining to size of the strap.

Next on the shopping trip was the Savannah Bee Company. There is an array of specialty honey from orange blossom to lavender and so much more. I purchased whipped honey with chocolate. (Yes, chocolate!) The Savannah Bee Company made the 2021 list of Oprah’s Favorite Things.

With all the shopping, the perfect caffeine boost is at Savannah Coffee Roasters. It’s a lovely, casual place to dine as well.

Before I went to Savannah, I read Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan. This historical fiction book about a shipwreck was interesting. I learned the saying “Keeping up with the Joneses” is from Savannah. I went to Jones Street where the homes were beautiful. In the book’s acknowledgements the author mentions the bookstore E. Shaver. So, I went there and was greeted by the booksellers and the cats that live there.

Several years ago I read the Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt, a non-fiction book about a murder which was made into a movie.

I highly recommend Savannah as a place to visit.

Fashion Plates

22 Oct

Fashion, food and philanthropy collided at a wonderful event to benefit autism in Jupiter, Florida. Fashion designer Julian Chang presented his fashions, Eloquence Jewelry provided the gems and the restaurant 1000 North served the food, thanks to event host Sherrye Sammons Fenton (below) and Legends Radio emcee Mike McGann.

Miami is the inspiration for fashion designer Julian Chang (below). “We are all about colors and happy prints,” said Chang.

In addition to the vibrant prints, some of the collection contained black and white graphics, as seen in the example below.

The pop-up jewels on sale were from Eloquence Fine Jewelry & Gifts (below).

More than 100 guests attended the sold-out event. Here are two attendees, Lorraine Bolton (left) and Cindy Pollack, who supported the philanthropic happening.

A portion of the trunk show sales from the event supported the Els for Autism Foundation. The Els for Autism Foundation is international with an in-person facility in Jupiter, Florida.

Julian Chang summed up the afternoon perfectly while describing his fashions. “People want to feel happy.”

My Fake Vintage Gucci

8 Sep

This handbag has a story that began a few decades ago. My Mom, who died in 1990, was a shopper. She would buy and return as a pastime. Her favorite store was Hudson’s, and if you are from Motown, and of a certain age, you remember it well. (Hudson’s later became Dayton-Hudson’s, Marshall Fields and now Macy’s.)

Although she did not buy this purse at Hudson’s, she bought it at Northland, a mall that no longer exists. She showed it to me, and said it was a Gucci purse. I really didn’t want it at that time, so she said she would put it away for me. When she passed away, I rediscovered it and kept it.

My daughter enjoys designer handbags, and I told her about the Gucci purse. I really built it up, saying it was a vintage handbag that’s probably valuable. She was excited, and the last time she visited, I pulled it out. She looked at it, and started laughing. “Mom look at the G’s–they’re not G’s, they’re E’s.”

So, I have a fake Gucci. My mom was bamboozled. It’s probably one of the first dupes. I’m really not sure what to do with it. Any ideas?

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