Wait a minute, I know an ABC Bachelor!

By Jane Bokun

Last Monday night I was watching television show, The Bachelor, and I thought, “wait a minute, I know one of these guys.”

Here’s the way it went: I met fellow Polish person and ABC Bachelor, Chris Bukowski.

That show did not do him justice. He is almost too pretty to behold (like many Polish people, ahem). With his blue green eyes, easy manner, and shiny, white teeth, women coming into Bracket Room Sports Lounge & Eatery in Chicago, might think Bukowski is one of the owners.

But, they surely wouldn’t think he was a Bachelor in Paradise contestant. In fact, Bukowski has been the ultimate Bachelor franchise contestant. He also has appeared on The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad.

Now, Bukowski keeps a low profile, but is definitely is a force to be reckoned with his bar, Bracket Room close to the University of Illinois. The 30-year-old Bartlett, Il. native now splits his time between Los Angeles and Chicago. He said he has missed family and will be open for business in all areas because,” I’m married to my restaurant.”

Bukowski said he’ll be moving to Chicago full-time. The Bracket Room, which features outdoor patio seating, is at 1315 S. Halsted St. in Chicago.

“It was created to celebrate the popular NCAA Brackets that showcased friendly sports conjecture,” Bukowski said.

The bar is enclosed by glass garage doors, that open during the warmer months in Chicago. Inside, Bracket Room will offer a VIP area, that will supply bottle service for large parties.  There will also be late night entertainment including live music weekly.

Is Bukowski looking forward to finding love?

“Everywhere you go you take a chance,” he said

Bukowski met Katie Morton on the 6th season of Bachelor in Paradise. They got engaged on the show’s final episode. They have admitted to having a rocky relationship since filming ended, but neither are willing to give up on the relationship yet. They announced their break-up on December 10, 2019.

He is currently dating fellow Bachelor alum Katrina Badowski. Realizing that they have similar sounding last names, Katrina made up the “ship” name “The Owskis”.


Fantasy for everyone who needs a mood lifter

By Jane Bokun

Even though we are really at the height of despair with a Covid pandemic and rioting in the streets, I find that taking a mental break can sometimes help my mood.

With that in mind, Disney, which is in its reopening phases, has come up with a collection of Disney Wedding Dresses that can take you away for some real life fantasizing, whatever your age. For myself, I bought the first wedding gown that fit me in a plus size and then was sorry.

According to a Disney blog, these are Disney Princess character inspired dresses called the new Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection from Allure Bridals. 

Due to Covid and major fashion show closings, they have been delayed coming to the stores. The elegant collection features 16 gowns inspired by the style and spirit of Disney Princess characters such as Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Jasmine, Cinderella, Pocahontas, Rapunzel, Tiana and Snow White.

Here’s a first glimpse of the Belle and Ariel inspired wedding dresses!

  • Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection from Allure Bridals - Belle
  • Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection from Allure Bridals - Ariel

The Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection will be available at select bridal boutiques across the country. Seven of the 16 styles will be featured exclusively at Kleinfeld Bridal stores in New York and Toronto as the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Platinum Collection. Including the gorgeous Tiana Platinum gown, which embodies both Tiana’s practicality and creativity in an elegant ballgown design covered in bayou-inspired shimmering vines and blossoms.  

Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection from Allure Bridals - Tiana

Allure Bridals was set to unveil the entire collection during New York Bridal Fashion Week in April 2020, but alas, another Covid cancellation. Follow @DisneyWeddings on social media to learn the latest updates on the Disney Fairy Tale Weddings Collection. 


MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral Drink is great

By Jane Bokun

In the current climate of the Covid 19, the unbelievably irritating and disruptive virus, I’m venturing into the world of influencers by trying out a new product called MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral drink.

It’s a line of organic products I trust because I use it. I’m recommending this manufacturer because I love a cutting-edge product that works. It makes me feel like I’m harboring a secret and I’m better off for it. Years ago, I worked as a public relations person for a product called Ott-lite Technology. I loved the product. Customers could see things in natural daylight environment. It was great for reading, writing, crafts, crocheting and much more. It was even good for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

I sent them to everyone I knew so they could simply see things better.  When I first began repping the product, I asked the owner what kind of people he wanted to attract.

“I’ve always wanted to get the product as one of Oprah’s Favorite Things,” he said.

“Done.” I thought. And so it was. I sent her so many lamps that she couldn’t deny how great they were. One day her staff called and said she was using the Ott-Lite and wanted to add it to her favorite things. It was a miracle. Whole teams of people couldn’t get their products in to see Oprah. But I annoyed with just little me – team of one – wanna-be influencer and persistent person.

Mary Ruth’s is made for anti-stress, sleep and relaxation and the weird thing is – I think it works. I’m sleeping through the night with a great feeling of wellness when I get up in the morning. It could not be better because I’ve spent many quarantine months not knowing what time it is, what day it is and whether I can get away with two days on my underwear. Shocking no? I’ve never been so shocked while wearing a mask.

Now, at least I can sleep through the quarantine. Store runs out of ramen. I don’t care. I’m sleeping. To get your own bottle of MaryRuth’s Liquid Nighttime Multimineral drink go to

#over50chicagolifestyle, northwest Indiana, over 50, Uncategorized

Are your dogs in need of a little quarantine training?

By Jane Bokun

Kip Geyer knows exactly what to do with the dogs he trains at Landheim Training & Boarding Center in Indiana.

Geyer is lead trainer at Landheim, which is a large barrack-like building located on a winding stretch of bucolic road. He has been training dogs professionally for more than 25 years and now works under Landheim award-winning owner Bob Fleming.

“I work mainly with German Shepherds,” Geyer said.

The dog lover has more than 20 years training law enforcement K-9 teams in Patrol, Narcotics and Explosives. He has now added PTSD training to his roster.

Even cuties like this can be trained in PTSD

 Anyone who has gone through a life-threatening event can develop PTSD. These events can include: combat; sexual or physical abuse; terrorist attacks; serious accidents; natural disasters, and more.

“We train dogs to sense what’s happening and to block the person suffering from PTSD from any potential problems,” Geyer said.

Dogs literally get in front of their owners and block them from potentially stressful situations. The dogs may look formidable, but they are loving and trained to respond to PTSD symptoms. The dogs provide assistance in a medical crisis; assistance in coping with emotional overload and more. A trained PTSD dog can provide a sense of security and calm.

According to Geyer, PTSD Service Dogs can literally change the life of a veteran or other persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD Service dogs can help veterans remain calm by preventing people from crowding around.

In fact all the German Shepherds at Landheim are being trained for different purposes. Some are show dogs, pets and are used as K-9 police dogs. Owners can also train and board their own pets at Landheim.

“Our goal at Landheim is to always offer the latest and best training available,” Fleming said. “All our dogs are trained under the guidelines set by such programs as the American Police Canine Association (APCA), North American Police Work Dog Association (NAPWDA) and more.”

For more information call 219-365-8897 or access

northwest Indiana, over 50

Need more money? Here’s a cool guest blog by Laurie Penman …

How a Product Testing Opportunity Landed Me A Commercial Shot

By Laurie Penman

Participating in market research got me to Hollywood to be in a commercial. It was the farthest thing from my mind when I participated in a product testing opportunity a few years back.  I cannot disclose what company, but here’s what went down: after filling out the screener for the product, I was notified that I had been chosen to test it for two weeks.  The product was mailed to me at NO cost and I faithfully tested it out and went online to give my user experiences and notations as I used it.  I thought that would be the last of that, as it is with so many of the product tests that I have done and I just sat back and waited for my $100 payment to come.  However, just a few days later I received a phone call from a very nice lady who was working with the product manufacturer to develop a new commercial.  She told me that they wanted me to send them a video of me talking about what I do (I was a construction worker then) etc. and told me I had two days to get it to them.  I initially thought, “no I’m not really interested,” but my curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do it anyways and sent it on in.  Imagine my surprise when a day or so later I got THE CALL.


Product reviews are lucrative

            “Hey Laurie, this is Suzy and we would like to let you know that out of over 40 submissions yours is one of 5 women we would like to invite out to Beverly Hills to make a commercial for this product.  You will be gone 4 days, our limo will pick you up at your door,your round trip ticket and hotel stay are paid for and we will have an agent at LAX to pick you up and take you to your hotel, then after the shoot is over we will fly you home and right back to your door…are you interested?”

I didn’t even ask my boyfriend if he cared if I went!  This was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me so very randomly and I was going to ride this all the way to the end!  I couldn’t believe my dumb luck.  I excitedly made my exit plans for the very next weekend.  Just as promised, a big stretch limo pulled up to my house and a very nice driver escorted me to the car and loaded my bags.  The drive to O’Hare was full of butterflies and nervous excitement as I pondered what laid ahead in the next four days.

At the airport I was surprised to find that another of the ladies was from Chicago proper.  I was elated to have a travel bud, and she was so much fun and just the sweetest person.  Of the five ladies that went to make the commercial I am still friends with 3 of them on Facebook and we stay in touch.  They were also ladies who were hip to online surveys,focusgroups,product-testing etc and we bonded immediately over our love of all things FREE!

We stayed in Beverly Hills at the VERY prestigious Mr. B’s.  I was rubbing elbows with celebrities……I literally ran right into Cindy Crawford  in the hallway to the bathroom.  I CAN say she was the sweetest person and very gracious when I told her how much I loved her!  As I returned to my party in the lobby I saw George Clooney in the dining room with his then fiance’ having dinner.  It was the coolest, most surreal thing I have ever done.

Each of us ladies got $200 pocket money for the next four days.  We each had a private and BEAUTIFULLY APPOINTED luxury 5-star hotel room.  We ate dinner in the hotel restaurant where I had seen George Clooney, chandeliers and mahogany…….this place drips money.  I felt like I was dreaming this whole thing.  We spent that first night walking down Rodeo Drive and drinking it all in.  The lights, the stores, the beautiful people everywhere.  Everything was amazing, fantastic and so very much fun! 

It was Oscar Week in Hollywood and the place was buzzing with excitement and lots of construction going on.  I visited Madam Tussauds wax museum, walked the “Walk of Stars”, ate at a local burger place whose name I cannot recall.  I had my own driver to take me around town “for the day” while they were shooting the other girls parts.  I took a TMZ tour bus around Hollywood sitting on the top so I could see everything.  I soaked it all in, I had no idea when I might be able to come back on my own, so I wanted to make the most of the time I had there.

Turns out that because I had a DUI years ago on my record, that the company whose product I had tested decided they weren’t going to use me…..however the producer met with me and told me

“Don’t take it bad, I wasn’t ever picked either for the very same reason”…..he smiled and continued……”We can either send you home today, or………the room is already paid for, you could just stay and fly home on schedule, enjoy some time here, we’ll give you a driver to take you anywhere you like”  to which I replied “Well then, looks like I’m stayin!”  On top of all of that, they still paid me SAG pay for the shoot.  I came home with a $2500 check, a round-trip flight, a stay at a 5-star hotel for 4 days @$550 a night and lets not forget the limo. They treated me so well,and everyone was super professionnal I wouldn’t hesitate to do it all again, and in all honesty I’m always looking for that next amazing opportunity.  There’s really no way to guarantee that a product-testing opportunity will lead to something this amazing.  But I can guarantee you that it will lead to fun, and some extra cash. 

There’s so many great ways to find money on the internet without having to pay ANYONE to find them or share them with you.  I’ve been doing this for over 20 years now and I can attest that it is both fun and PROFITABLE.  I can also attest that I actually kept a detailed record one year just to see how much I amassed in a one year period and the total came out to just a bit over $10,500!  It wasn’t all cash, it was products I tried out (generally you get to keep them AND get paid as well) some of the products after testing them I would sell them.  Double dipping so that I got paid to test it out and then also made money selling it for about half of what someone would actually pay for it.  My product tests have included:

5 coffee makers

2 satellite radios

1 cutlery knife block set

1 toaster oven

1 digital camera

1 spy truck kids toy with remote camera

1 bra

TONS of beauty products and food/beverage items

Diapers when my daughter was small

The internet holds a myriad of things…….you just need to know where to look.  Let me be your guide.  I share what I find online on a very small blog called 

Come find me!

#over50chicagolifestyle, over 50, Uncategorized

COVID please be ovid

By Jane Bokun

I know it’s been awhile since I’ve updated Banana Peel (, but the COVID-19 virus has completely freaked me out.

Since, I’ve had a few weeks to figure out how to hide from my family in smelly places in my house I have never been, it pleases me to tell you that I’ve taken up yoga. Or, specifically, one class of yoga. The company that I work for has generously given us free online yoga classes to try out during the quarantine due to this highly contagious disease and pandemic. I didn’t take to yoga immediately.

May start making cuter face masks as a lifestyle choice!

First, I had to think of all the end of the world movies where there would be no one but me in an abandoned big box store like say, a Best Buy. Epson printers would be scattered on the floor with the latest Google nests and doorbells. I could take all the expensive, turquoise blue and bright red matching mix masters, even a rose gold washer dryer, but who would I impress with them? I could have all the Nespresso I wanted from the expensive coffee machine, but who would teach me how to use it? Terrifying.

It’s like when you see old, abandoned mannequins in front store windows with out of date displays just standing in the window and you know you’re the only one on earth who can go in and try them on. It’s the end of the world with no people, access to everything, and nothing.

This kind of raw, end-of-the-world fear took a whole two weeks. It didn’t help that I was obsessively watching the over million people worldwide who were already sick with the disease. It is a virus that developed out of Wuhan, China.

Common symptoms of COVID-19 include fever and cough. Trouble breathing is a more serious symptom that means you should get medical attention in an overstressed hospital setting where even medical staff are catching and dying from COVID.

I keep planning to go back in my mold-filled basement to try another online yoga class and maybe get to know the other members of the class and pretend they’re my friends.

I am still looking for bloggers for this lifestyle blog. It’s Banana Peel at on WordPress. I am looking for fellow former journalists as well as those who have some ideas about being over-50 and even over-90 (especially over-90). Right now, I have about 5,000 followers, but the blog is growing.

This is a strictly volunteer position that can have positive repercussions. If you’re interested in blogging for Banana Peel, I would be beyond the moon. We will have some meet-up events in the future that may include some swag.

Each blog must be about 300 words with photos if possible. You can blog as little or as much as you like. Please message me through the blog or call or text me at Jane Bokun (318) 401-1685.

northwest Indiana, over 50, Uncategorized

Jobs to be had after Coronavirus

By Jane Bokun

It’s hard to believe, now that we’re all in quarantine, but the sun will come out and so will we.

When I first moved back to the Chicago area, I met an everyday angel named Christine Spencer.

Spencer, who heads the job networking group in the Weis Center at St. Thomas More church, 8435 Calumet Avenue in Munster, started it when she lost her own job and saw it as a vehicle to help on the 3rd Thurs of each month at the Weis Center and the rest is history.

The free job group called STM Career Group, was started abo10 years ago in Munster has proven to be a saving grace for many in the area who are looking for jobs. Spencer, a petite woman who always wears suits to her meetings, has a background in meeting planning and has trained various groups in time management.

Jobs may be found at STM Career Group

“Lots of people come here for jobs,” agreed Susan Strain, who works at St. Thomas More church in Munster. “They can get free help with resumes and hear from human resource professionals.”

Spencer said that may be the ticket to her group’s success.

“We have different presenters at most of the meeting that help with how to land that next opportunity,” she said. “We also have Donna Weidenfeller who is retired from Purdue Calumet Career Services helping people with resumes and cover letters each month and Robert Teets who helps with IT, social media and spends times encouraging participants.  His wife, Helen Marie Harmon, has also been a presenter many times and is certified to give the Myers-Briggs Assessment which we do each spring.”

STM Career Group now has a steady 30 participants each month and as many as 100.  All meetings are free and open to the public.

 In fact, Spencer said she started the networking group, because, “not only once, but four times, I’ve gone through downsizing and merger. “

Now, about 50 participants meet at 7 p.m. monthly on Thursdays  at Weis to network, hear seminars from local companies such as Arcenal Mittal Steel, and basically do what it takes to get a new job. The crowd varies each week from very young right out of college applicants to seniors. Volunteer, Donna Weidenfeller, gives presentations and is a resume reviewer.

 “When I lost a very good job I was traveling as much as 50 miles away to network,” Spencer said.  “I had been thinking of starting a networking group in the area and just prayed about what all this means.  Everything just eventually fell into place.”


Another job for older people: restaurant hostess

By Jane Bokun

It was the dead of winter in the Chicago area and I think I may have completely lost my mind when I tried a job as a hostess in a 90-year-old restaurant. I’m not going to say the name lest you want to run over there and work this job yourself, but it starts with a T-e-i-b-e-l-s.

“I can do this,” I thought. That was before I knew there was extensive math involved and yes, accounting to close the entire restaurant, much like hotels, my other nemesis.

I scoured the Internet for duties before I showed up at the job. This is pretty much what I found (but, it’s not true). Hostesses acknowledge guests, offer up a polite greeting, and remember their information. Sometimes they may have to check menus.

Here’s what really happened: I had to act as the accountant for the day, posting checks, giving change and balancing. In addition to that, I sat customers in various stations. The waitresses and waiters at this establishment had been there for upwards of 30 years and still daily fought over which sections they had been given. After about two weeks, I had to close and balance the restaurant before I left – all for $10 an hour and that was an upgrade because I have a college degree.

Maybe not try hostessing as a senior

Why can’t you be an accountant if you have a college degree? I don’t know.

Each day, the wait staff and myself longingly looked out the front window when there were no guests. It showed a busy street where we looked for accidents or any melee. Something was afoot, I noticed we didn’t have much in common as people and it was very lonely. I started actually speaking to guests about their lives.

The waitstaff did not like that. But they didn’t tell me. They glared at me as I had interesting conversations. I kept on. As a journalist, a woman was once angry with me for an entire year and I didn’t notice. It takes a lot for me to know when I’m getting on people’s nerves.

A man came in to pick up a check from the owners for a charity event. I asked him the usual marketing questions for the event.

“I feel like we could work together,” he said.

Needless to say, I quit and did his marketing for a year. It’s always a good idea to find other senior jobs while on the job.

over 50, Uncategorized

Next Senior Job? Hotel Desk Clerk

By Jane Bokun

After years of watching exciting hotel related sitcoms, I decided that maybe I’d missed out on all the goings on in the hospitality industry. It is thought to be an excellent career for those who are over 50. Not only that, it might be fun.

I became a Holiday Inn hotel desk clerk a few years ago and here’s how it went for those thinking it’s easy and contemplating the work.

Hotel Work

I arrived and was immediately given the night shift. I was slightly afraid, because there were no security guards or police, but I wanted to try it. I thought surely it was fun.

As a hotel front desk clerk, I checked in guests and served breakfast. What I didn’t know was that I did the bookkeeping for the day. If I were negotiating my contract, I would say that is a deal breaker. Me and math? No comprendo. Did I mention the pay was $9 per hour?

The job also requires you take calls from guests and book them, distribute room keys, collect payments and learn to work a really complicated hotel software package.

“All of this and making breakfast?” you say. “Yes,” you will believe you died and went to hospitality heaven.”

Hotel front desk clerk positions typically require at least a high school diploma or an equivalent. They also have a period of on-the-job training upon hiring to become familiar with the specifics of the hotel they’re working in. How much time did I have to learn everything before I was pronounced ready to work alone? Two weeks. Then there was a huge craft beer convention in town and that was my first night alone.

I’m not going to lie, I made many mistakes that night, not the smallest of which was agreeing to taste shark semen craft beer.

The next day my supervisor approached me with a manila envelope saying she needed to see me. Needless to say, I quit.


Tapping out in the over 50 workplace

By Jane Bokun

If you think age is just a number, try being over 50 in the workplace.

In today’s 20-something workforce, out with the old seems to be a watchword — and even many 40-somethings are starting to look over their shoulders and feel the hot breath of youth bearing down on their careers.

In today’s 20-something workforce, out with the old seems to be a watchword —

Everyone in the workforce

Age discrimination is definitely a consideration in the workplace,” said Melissa Cole, an assistant professor of law at Saint Louis University Law School. Cole said as layoffs occur in today’s shaky economy, age discrimination lawsuits do sometimes follow, but not as often as sex or race discrimination cases. She said companies that have large layoffs many times include all age groups so that age discrimination does not affect the larger workforce.

And, she said, when companies layoff, they oftentimes have employees sign an explicit waiver precluding any discrimination lawsuits in order to receive an incentive on a compensation package. Older workers most often take the packages rather than opt for a lengthy lawsuit.

However, baby boomers who are turning 55 this year and are highly paid middle managers might disagree. There are now about 16 million Americans ages 55 and older who are working or seeking work, according to figures compiled by the AARP-Roper Starch survey.

Economic necessity will keep aging boomers working longer largely because of longer life expectancy, more limited private pension benefits and anxiety over potential changes in Social Security. These long-term workers sometimes are the first to be discarded in favor of younger workers with less pay requirements, and they do tend to strike back, Cole said.

Scott Stewart, a labor and employment attorney with Burroughs, Hepler, Broom, MacDonald, Hebrank & True in St. Louis and Edwardsville, handles cases for both sides.

“Age discrimination lawsuits coupled with gender and race discrimination are slightly on the rise in the area,” Stewart said.

There are a lot of factors involved in winning an age discrimination suit, Stewart said, including a lengthy evaluation process to determine whether an employer had unreasonable expectations, such as unnecessarily complicated job directives.

“They can say things like you are not as accomplished in computers,” he said. “But you would have to prove that was only a pretense.”

When making the decision to sue your employer, Stewart said, the first obstacle is making your case to an attorney who will then take it on a contingency basis.

“One of the drawbacks to age discrimination suits is that punitive damages are not available,” he said.

He recommends that if 40-plus workers feel the need for legal back-up, they first file charges with either the Missouri or Illinois Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“They have a human rights commission that can make an attempt to mediate the situation,” Stewart said. Barring that, the claimant also must obtain a right-to-sue letter within 90 days of filing.

There is some good news for plaintiffs. Although only about 20 percent of all complaints filed with the federal EEOC are for age discrimination, people claiming age discrimination were awarded an average of $219,000 compared to $147,799 for race discrimination, $106,728 for sex discrimination and $100,345 for disability discrimination, according to Jury Verdict Research.

“You tend to get lots of age discrimination claims in a business climate coming out of this type of setting,” said Dan O’Toole, an attorney with Armstrong Teasdale. For example, he said, in St. Louis companies like Boeing and others laid off workers and got 40 or 50 age-discrimination lawsuits.

Some St. Louis corporate leaders are realizing they can act to reduce or eliminate age discrimination through effective management and educational programs, O’Toole said.