Juno Beach Cafe’s autistic employee: His mother provides inspiration to help young student speak


Our story about the amazing Carpenter family, whose son Reese has become a favorite of Juno Beach Cafe customers during the year he’s worked there, has gotten overwhelming praise from those in the autism community, those in Juno who’ve been on the receiving end of one of Reese’s sweet smiles and his coffee-pouring prowess, and just people who like a good, positive story about the power of hard work and belief.

Reese has gained a lot of fans, but there’s at least one North Palm Beach family who are fans of another Carpenter – Reese’s mother Angela, who quit her job as a paralegal when her son was diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum, and went to work as a teaching assistant for a charter school for kids like him.

Landon Saake, who learned to speak with the help of Miss Angie Carpenter, mother of Juno Beach Cafe employee Reese Carpenter

“Thank you for writing this!,” writes Calley Smith, whose five-year-old son, Landon Saake, is a student at The Learning Center at the Els Center of Excellence in Jupiter. “Miss Angie was one of the teachers in Landon’s class last year. She kept telling me that he was going to have a breakthrough and start speaking. I never really allowed myself to believe her, but she was so right. Over the summer he started speaking. Not well, he still has a long way to go, but before he wouldn’t even try. But Miss Angie is an amazing person!”

Miss Angie, who now works at Palm Beach Gardens’ Connections Educations Center, another charter school for those on the spectrum, originally told the Post that she went into education to both learn what to do when her son entered school and to serve as a resource to other parents. Obviously, it’s working.


Local mom gets “Shark Tank” deal with Lori Greiner


Sarah Blain, the single mom entrepreneur whose Boca Raton-based business Sealed By Santa was recently featured in the Palm Beach Post, appeared on Friday night’s “Shark Tank” to try and get a $150,000 investment for 20 percent of her company. After a video visit from St. Nick himself, three offers and some tears, she left with a deal from QVC queen Lori Greiner.

Blain, whose company offers customized letters from the North Pole complete with an authentic postmark, as well as reindeer food and a certificate that the receiving kid made the Nice List, got an initial offer from notoriously prickly Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary. (He, incidentally, did not make the Nice List.) But it was for a third of the company, which she explained was too much equity. She then started to cry, elaborating that she was now a single mother who needed to keep it around the 20 percent in an order to protect her business for her and her two daughters. She also explained that the day “Shark Tank” called was the day that her husband left, making it both the worst and best days. (If you’ve had both profound loss and gain in quick succession, this makes so much sense.)

She wound up accepting Lori’s offer of $150,000, consisting of a loan of $75,000, for 22.5 percent of the company, after being intrigued by the idea of adding a Tooth Fairy letter option. (Kids lose teeth year-round, doncha know.)

Read more on Sarah here.

Former Sec. of State Madeleine Albright stops for lunch at West Palm diner Howley’s

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (right) with server Shannon O'Neil at Howley's Restaurant in October.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (right) with server Shannon O’Neil at Howley’s Restaurant in October.

The well-known slogan of classic West Palm Beach eatery Howley’s is “Cooked in Sight, Must Be Right.” Last month, there certainly was something special in sight, among the high layer cakes and sweet potato fries: Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stopped by for lunch with friends on October 22, to the delight of staff and restaurant patrons.

“People recognized her. She was walking through the restaurant and people thanked her for her work,” recalls server Katie Swift, who was working the lunch shift that Albright visited and observed that “she was a very sweet lady. She said hello to everyone and was very nice.”

Swift said that Albright, in town to campaign for then-Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, wasn’t doing any politicking at the restaurant but was “just eating with friends. She was awesome. She stopped and talked to people who wanted to talk to her. We enjoyed having her.”



National Black Cat Day: Places to cross paths with a lucky kitty of your own

Pepper, a former Palm Beach submitted by Pal, Beach Post Pet of the Week, submitted by Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control
Pepper, a former Palm Beach submitted by Palm Beach Post Pet of the Week, submitted by Palm Beach County Animal Care & Control

Did you know that black cats are the least likely kitties to be adopted from shelters, perhaps because of their unfair reputation for being bad luck? (One of my favorite all-time felines, Cusack Joan Streeter (1992-2005), was a darker-hued lass and one of your sweeter beings to ever completely hog a queen bed). Dispel that myth by celebrating today’s National Black Cat Day, honoring the coolness of coal-colored kitties everywhere. You can look up interesting facts on black cats, like the fact that they’re actually considered lucky in some cultures, or visit Meow Mix’s Cat Giffer where you can turn photos of your feline friends of any color into Web-ready images.

Max, a black cat from Ft. Pierce's All Pets Rescue
Max, a black cat from Ft. Pierce’s All Pets Rescue

But the most important thing you can do is go to the local shelter of your choice and bring one of those hard-to-place honeys home with you.   (The Palm Beach Post’s Pet of the Week column always has some good ideas, too)


National Dog Day: Enjoy the tropical wave with this tropically-named puppy

Want a friend for the storm?
Want a friend for the storm?

Happy National Dog Day! Meet Martinique. As you’re nervously watching to see if the tropical wave currently headed north in the Atlantic might dump rain all over your weekend plans, you could be making plans for a wave of of tropically named puppies.

And a 100 percent chance of cuteness!

Martinique, a seven-week old hound/lab mix, lives, for the moment, at the Furry Friends Adoption Clinic and Ranch, of the Humane Society of Greater Jupiter/Tequesta with her six siblings, all named after tropical islands. (The others are Aruba, Bahama, Thomas, Nevis, Croix, Fiji and Kitt, at least three of which were mentioned in the seminal Beach Boy’s classic “Kokomo”.)

Apparently the puppies were rescued, along with two mommy dogs, from a Miami farm where they were all neglected. Now, they’re all cleaned up and ready to spread a tropical wave of adorableness all over some lucky local home. Martinique, according to Furry Friends’ Karen Counts, the puppy, who has a white patch of fur on her little brown head, is “sweet as pie” and, judging from recent photos with her siblings where she clamors to be right in the middle, “likes being the center of attention.”

If you’d like to ride the storm out with Martinique, you can do so for a $250 puppy adoption fee that includes micro chip, shots and sterilization and, of course, a puppy. You can find her and other cute friends at 401 Maplewood Drive, from Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday noon-5. Adoption services are closed tomorrow so that some of Martinique’s older friends can compete in the Hang 20 Surf Dog Classic, which currently starts at 8:30 a.m., well ahead of expected bad weather. So maybe you should go today.

Playboy Playmate apologizes for taking illegal locker room photo, but not to the woman in photo

Me at an LA Fitness Zumba class, managing not to anger anyone with my back fat .

Dani Mathers, Playboy’s 2015 Playmate of the Year, says she “accidentally” posted a mocking Snapchat image of a woman daring to shower at an LA Fitness without first remembering to be skinny. So now Mathers has joined the pantheon of the sorry/not-sorry who’ve issued public apologies for behavior they thought was no biggie, like, three days ago. She’s totally not the fat-shaming mean girl she proved herself to be when she was meanly fat-shaming somebody! She’s going to take some time to figure out just how she could have sunk so low. She became a model because she loves the female body and even though she was completely making fun of a female body, she would never make fun of the female body. (Okay….) And she means it!

As one of those overweight LA Fitness members who manages to shower in the locker room all the time without blinding anyone with my offensive back fat, I don’t accept Mather’s apology – She seemed more sorry that she mistakenly mocked this stranger to the whole world, rather than just one friend, and seems clueless as to why both things are wrong, even when you don’t get caught. Besides, it’s not me, or humanity, or the spectre of the female body she needs to apologize to. It’s the woman she photographed, without her permission, captioning the image “If I can’t unsee this, then neither can you.”

And that poor woman, presumably minding her own business while showering after the workout she just did because she’s trying to be healthy, is the only person Mathers didn’t actually apologize to.

Fear of locker room shaming is nothing new – fitness magazines and Web sites list it as a reason why people, overweight and otherwise, don’t like changing at gyms, or change in the bathroom stall or even behind the still-wet shower curtain, afraid to be publicly naked for even the few seconds it takes to twist themselves into a towel. It’s also a reason that some overweight people don’t go to the gym in the first place, and then don’t work out, and then remain overweight, and maybe unhealthy, and then become fatter while mean, fitter people make fun of them because they don’t go to the gym.

You can see how this is a problem.

There was probably a time when I was self-conscious about letting my less-than-svelte body see the light of day at the gym, particularly in the presence of younger, fitter, more muscular ones. I wondered what those women must think about me, how offensive my cellulite must be to them, what they must be thinking of my baggy shorts and random concert festival giveaway tank top as they donned their tight Lululemon yoga pants and accessorized sports bras.

And then I got over myself. First of all, most of the people in there are trying to do the same thing you are, which is get fit, get in and get out, which is what etiquette prescribes. They’re not worried about what I look like because they’re in their own heads, planning their own days. They’re not in there worried about middle-aged women rinsing off after fighting with the Stair Master, so other than finding their lack of body fat somewhat aspirational, I’ve decided not to worry about them. Do you, Boo. Good for you.

Then again, my nervousness is justified by trolls like Mathers, a woman whose job as a Playboy model requires her to maintain a certain look, both with exercise and, from the evidence of some of the photos on her Facebook page, surgical assistance. That’s her right – she can do whatever she wants with her body, because it’s hers. And that’s why what she did to that woman she has yet to publicly acknowledge was so awful, so casually cruel, We’re all out there trying to be the best us we can be, whatever that means to us, whether our pictures adorn a Playboy cover or the refrigerator. Anyone who gets out there to try to change themselves, to do the work, is to be commended, not ridiculed.

Every time these fake, possible lawyer or publicist-directed apologies are released, it seems we’re continuously confirming that we are a callous society that not only revels in thinking ourselves better than other people, but can’t wait to let everyone else know it. If Mathers had just texted her friend “Eww, there’s a fat lady over there in the shower” it would still have been mean and unneccessary. But she crossed a line by snapping a photo in the locker room – which happens to be a crime – and including it in her post ratchets up the cruelty, whether it was meant for one equally mean friend of 10,000. And it’s done more than subject Mathers to a possible $100,000 fine and a year in jail – it singled out a stranger as someone whose natural state is so hideous that you’re trying to unsee it.

Seems the ugly person is you, Dani Mathers. That woman you picked on, whose only sin seems to be trying to live her life with people like you around? She’s in there doing work. And that’s a pretty good look.

Ariana Grande, Boca Raton native, releases uplifting song in response to Texas, Baton Rouge, MN.

Ariana Grande

Boca Raton’s Ariana Grande, just cast as Penny Pingleton in the upcoming TV production of “Hairspray Live,” has released a song with singer Victoria Monet called “Better Days,” in response to the police-involved shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana, as well as the ambush of police officers in Dallas, according to Rolling Stone.

On her Instagram page, Grande wrote “During this challenging time, we have to remember that the only way we will progress is if the overruling force is #Love. Too many precious lives were taken from us this week, this month, this year. Rest in peace #AltonSterling. Rest in peace #PhilandoCastile #BlackLivesMatter. And the police that were peacefully guarding the #BlackLivesMatter rally in Dallas…. Rest in peace. #LorneAhrens, #MichaelKrol,#MichaelJSmith, #BrentThompson &#PatrickZamarripa.”

For more on Ariana Grande, click here.

“Vanilla Ice Project” finishes its house, briefly startles local designer, goes Hollywood glam

20160311 burt vanilla 06

So I’ve just completed the last episode of my first full season of DIY’s “The Vanilla Ice Project,” and as the house referred to as the Green Monster makes its debut as a reddish, brick-covered non-monster, I look back on all the hi-jinks, the smashed walls, the near emergencies that weren’t really emergencies at all, that time the septic tank got run over and KoKo thought he had to lift the lid out by hand, that time they sealed Wes up in the staircase, and the time they kinda were worried that a weight-bearing wall was gonna pull the whole thing down.

And I wish they could come and do some stuff to my house. But without the septic tank, because I live in a city, and because that’s gross.

Five impressions of the final episode:

  • Fans have told me to expect the input of Jupiter interior designer Krista Watterworth, and how she usually comes in and goes “Wait, what did you do?” And that’s what she did here- when she first gets to the house, she doesn’t even think it’s ready for her to start designing yet. She also wants $40,000 to stage the house, and Rob’s all “Get out of my pocket, woman” and it made me laugh because they sounded like old married people. I never asked for $40,000 to stage a house. But I’m pretty sure that’s the reaction I would have gotten. Plus a $100 Home Goods gift certificate and a trip to the Bealls Outlet, along with a “Good luck!”
  • I’m surprised that Krista didn’t suggest selling or giving back the giant fake ruins and airplane fusilage in the back yard so they could buy all the furniture they wanted. Well, that’s what I would have done.
  • Rob, who was into the Hollywood Glamour theme Krista decided on, stuck his nose up at a “beachy peachy” chair that Krista suggested as a joke. I love that chair. I will take that chair. Please give me that chair.
  • The finished house was suggested at a market price of $1.6 million. I’m super interested into what happens to it, and if it involves keeping or getting rid of the splash pad. (Look, it’s a cute idea. But I’d rather choose the stuff in my yard. Then again, I don’t have $1.6 million to buy it, so you do you, House. You do you.
  • If KoKo Corey is out there, and he would like to do an interview with a fan who thinks his boys should stop messing with him, like when they find a snake in the finale and he freaks out, call me, dude. #freekoko


‘House Hunters’: Boynton Beach couple, agent find perfect home on TV show

house hunters 1

Anyone who’s ever looked for shelter – particularly if you’re on a schedule – know that it can be a lot of things: Stressful. Expensive. Argument-fuel. What it is not often is entertaining. (I did it earlier this year, with only a month to work with, and for a while there I was worried I’d be living in a travel trailer in a Whole Foods parking lot). But HGTV’s long-running “House Hunters” has made the process of home-shopping, along with a hard-working Realtor, into some sort of pretty sport. And tonight, a local couple, Astrid and Shawn Mitcham, and their agent Mindy Sepinuck, give it a go.

Here’s to not living in a travel trailer at the Whole Foods!

For our full story, click here.

What was the best food I ate at a gas station?


Last week, I spent several hours driving around Palm Beach County, slowing down to inspect any gas station I drove past. I was looking for fuel, but for me, not for my Prius, but for me. Inspired by a health blogger trying to eat only from gas stations for 30 days, I searched for deliciousness among the car air freshener and the Powerball tickets, and the best thing I found was a simple bowl of rice and beans at Peanuts Country Store in west Delray Beach. They have a whole Latin eatery in there, and it’s worth driving west for.

Read the whole story here.