Rolling Pin Gingerbread House ContestGrab your gumdrops, icing guns and gingerbread and get ready to compete in Rolling Pin Kitchen Emporium’s First Annual Gingerbread House Competition with proceeds benefiting Lost Angels Animal Rescue.
Residents of all ages are welcome to take part in this newly created event, entering gingerbread houses of their own creation on a throwaway base measuring 18 inches by 18 inches. With eight residents already registered, chef Dave West, who co-owns the business with wife Karen, is looking for many more to compete, with first place’s prize being a $200 Rolling Pin gift card, second place comprising of a $100 Rolling Pin gift card and third place consisting of a $50 Rolling Pin gift card. Contestants will also have the chance to vie for Peoples Choice Award, winning a premium gingerbread bakeware pan, gingerbread cookie mix and a gingerbread house kit. All residents are welcome to visit the store and cast their votes for what they consider to be the best gingerbread house.
Residents are welcome to enter multiple times, each at $10 a piece. With all proceeds being donated to Lost Angels Animal Rescue, a no-kill canine shelter in Tampa that West heard of through his store’s every-other-month meet and greet of dogs and their owners, West, who has two dogs himself, is hoping to raise over $250.
“Remember, sometimes the simplest houses end up being the best ones. No experience is needed, just great-looking, well-made houses,” concludes West.
All entries must be dropped off between 11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. on Saturday, December 13. Then, contestants must return to the store between 1:30-2 p.m. to be present to win and have their picture taken and published. The judging for the event will begin at 1 p.m. All entries will be on display until Saturday, December 20. For more information, call 653-2418 or visit To learn more about Lost Angels Animal Rescue, visit

Consultants Help Residents Invest
Are you looking for some assistance with your investments during these difficult economic times? Then turn to Harold Travlee and Sylvia Williams of Channelside Consultant Group.
“Channelside Consultant Group was founded to strategically empower the art of investment and financial freedom through real estate and financial investments,” says Travlee, the group’s owner and CEO. “Channelside Consultant Group’s mission is to build the most dynamic, profitable and reputable consulting firm in Tampa Bay by delivering outstanding service and value to clients and unique opportunities with superior return.”
With strategic alliances and partnerships in residential and commercial real estate investments, financing and management and business and personal loans, Channelside Consultant Group structures the deal from start to finish, securing all parties of the transaction.
“We have over 20 years in business development, real estate, finance and insurance and aim to be recognized as the number one choice of strategic investor relations through conducting business with integrity, teaching, and follow through,” says Travlee.
Channelside Consultant Group is located at 156 E. Bloomingdale Ave. and can be reached at 654-2403 and For more information, visit

Store Opens For Special Occasions
Looking for that perfect dress for homecoming or another formal occasion? Bloomingdale resident Cheryl Bowen recently opened Perfection Prom and Party on Bloomingdale Ave. offering dresses, evening gowns and accessories for prom, Sweet Sixteen, Quinceanera, Bat Mitzvah, holiday parties, destination weddings and other formal events.
A dress registry insures that the dress you choose will be unique for your occasion. Perfection offers personalized service with friendly sales staff to assist you in a fresh, contemporary setting with later store hours to accommodate its busy customers’ schedules. Appointments and fashion show bookings are also available.
Bowen, the wife of a retired Air Force officer, has experienced over a dozen military relocations throughout the United States and Europe and understands the value of a well-stocked dress shop when the need for formal attire arises.
“In addition,” adds Bowen, “my teenage daughter Hannah’s friends are always happy to offer advice, keeping me in the loop and up on the latest trends.”
Perfection Prom is located at 10313 Bloomingdale Ave., across from SuperTarget in the Bloomingdale Towne Center, and can be reached at 621-1991. For more information, visit

Mandalay Mist Gets New Home
Mandalay Mist Bronzing Spa and Boutique recently moved to a new location at 1123 Professional Park Dr. in Brandon (behind the Publix on Causeway Blvd.) after four-and-a-half-years at its current location at One Divine Place.
According to owner Allison Macri, the new location has been well-received by clients. “Besides being in a more convenient part of town for many of our customers, the upfront parking allows quick access to the boutique and tanning,” says Macri.
Mandalay Mist has been exclusively offering and specializing in UV-free mist tanning since opening in April of 2004. With over 4,000 customers to date, its popularity spans the ages with clients ranging from 13 to 82 years old.
In addition to award winning mist tanning, Mandalay Mist also features a specialty boutique for jewelry, handbags, clothing, giftware, gifts for baby, and much more. New lines for this holiday season include By Boe jewelry, Zum soaps, Skeem candles, Makes Scents candles – made right here in the Brandon area – giftable ornaments, Poo-pourri, Madie Deluxe handbags, Lucy B. perfume, and Wonderful Wacky Women gift art. Mandalay Mist will continue to feature jewelry and art from local artists as well.
For updates and more information, call 662-MIST (6478) or visit

Health Food Store Opens on Lumsden
Kuznova, a health food store, opened recently on Lumsden Rd. at its intersection with Mt. Carmel Rd. Owned by Valrico resident Valeri Kouzine, Kuznova stocks a wide variety of health and organic foods, vitamins and supplements from all over the world.
“We look for the best quality and variety and stock it for our customers,” says Kouzine, who is originally from Russia.
Stock ranges from organic cereal, snacks and teas to fresh cheese, milk and flax seed and vitamins.
The store is located at 1316 E. Lumsden Rd. and can be reached at 315-9858.

Unique Gifts And More At The Bead Boutique
From girls’ nights out to gifts for all occasions, The Bead Boutique on Lithia Pinecrest Rd. has something for everyone.
“The focus of The Bead Boutique is extraordinary creations made from semiprecious gemstones, pearls, imported glass and Swarovski crystal, interspersed with unique gold and sterling accessories to help complete the jewelry,” says owner Eva Areias. “Our friendly and helpful staff is always on hand to create a warm and inviting atmosphere where beaders of all expertise levels can express their creativity through design, take classes and enjoy each other’s company.”
The store also offers a variety of jewelry-making classes from beginner to advanced levels where bead lovers can find crystal, silver, gold, semi-precious, glass, chain, stringing materials, tools and all the supplies they need to create beautiful jewelry.
“With a large selection of beads and a spacious, comfortable work environment, we encourage customers to pull up a chair and learn this exciting, addictive craft where imagination is your only limitation,” says Areias.
Residents can host children’s birthday parties or girls’ nights out in the store’s private room and classes take place regularly with a schedule available at
Hours are Monday and Wednesday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m., and Sunday from 12 Noon-5 p.m.
The Bead Boutique is located at 913 Lithia Pinecrest Rd., next to Tuesday Morning, and can be reached at 662-9900.

Grow Financial Receives a Superior
Grow Financial Federal Credit Union, one of the leading credit unions in the nation and the fifth largest in the state of Florida, recently received a superior 5-star rating from Bauer Financial, a primary agency for evaluating the strength of financial institutions.
The rating is the highest possible Bauer Financial awards and is based upon a complex formula which factors in relevant data including: capital, historical trends, loan delinquencies, differences in the book and market values of the investment portfolio, profitability, repossessed assets, reserves, charge-offs, regulatory compliance and asset quality. Complete results are available at
“In this time of uncertainty in the financial markets,” says Robert L. Fisher, president and CEO of Grow Financial, “this is extremely reassuring news for our membership and emphasizes the sound managerial philosophy which has guided our credit union. As an example, we never engaged in sub-prime mortgage lending, because we determined these types of products were not in the best interest of our members. We exist simply to give our members a safe place to save and borrow money at reasonable rates.”
“Our country is currently in a difficult economic environment,” adds Fisher, “but whether times are good or bad, Grow Financial will always work diligently to safeguard the deposits, mortgages and loans of our members.”
Headquartered in Tampa, Grow Financial Federal Credit Union was established in 1955 and now ranks as one of the leading credit unions in the nation, with 18 branches and $1.8 billion in assets. Originally founded to provide financial services for the military and civilian personnel of MacDill Air Force Base, Grow Financial has since expanded membership beyond its traditional affiliation to include the employees of 1,100 local businesses. Today, the credit union serves more than 183,000 members throughout its five-county market area in Tampa Bay.
For more information, visit

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.