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East County Monday, Jul. 27, 2015 5 years ago

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First birthday bash; Laverne and Shirley and designer revamps home.
by: Amanda Sebastiano Staff Writer

+ First birthday bash

Mia Vazquez is already a popular girl who prefers throwing big parties and being the life of the party.

She turned 1 July 10 and celebrated her first birthday "Sesame Street" style.

More than 20 family members and friends attended the Elmo-themed party, which featured colorful decorations and a cake donned with the character's fuzzy red face. She also had a miniature smash cake, which she didn't intend to share.

"Mia was very happy and excited to see everyone," her grandmother, Millie Vazquez, said. "And she, of course, loved her cake."


+ Laverne and Shirley

What are 13 weeks old, multicolored, named after a 1980s sitcom and together weigh less than 20 pounds?

Meet Laverne and Shirley. Laverne is the larger of the two and sports a bone shape mark on her nose. She's more reserved than her sister, Shirley, who is thinner and a daredevil.

The Jack Russell-mix puppies are orphans who are currently being fostered in Lakewood Ranch and are available for adoption through Safe Haven Animal Rescue of Florida, Inc.

The sisters love to play and are affectionate, despite the turbulence of their short lives. Rescue volunteers hope the girls can be adopted together.

An employee of a local gas station found the dynamic duo in a field, after a woman had emptied a box of puppies onto the grass. 

For more information, visit


+ Designer revamps home

Last week, we showed you the inside of a previously bank-owned home in Mote Ranch, located at 5762 Carriage Drive. That was the before version.

Lynda Contarino, interior designer and renovator with Castles and Cottages Interiors, has worked in the area for more than 25 years and is taking on the challenge of renovating the home and giving it a new life.

Using licensed contractors, Contarino will take the home down to its bare bones by replacing the carpet, HVAC, electrical and plumbing services. She will also repaint and remodel the home’s interior in an updated, coastal contemporary style.

In a future issue of the East County Observer, we'll show you the after version following the three- to four-month renovation process. Stay tuned to see the results of her work.


+ Puppies for patients

Do you love stuffed animals?

SkinSmart Dermatology staff members hoped their customers had a sweet spot for fuzzy companions. The East County business sold stuffed puppies to customers for $5 earlier this month and donated the proceeds to Nate's Honor Animal Rescue.

Elizabeth Callahan, of SkinSmart, presented Honor Director of Development Rob Oglesby with a $643.30 check.

The stuffed animals were miniature versions of Callahan's own dog, Perlane. Each animal wore a green and purple bow with a collar.

"We are grateful for the support we receive from our local community," Oglesby said. "The SkinSmart program is a great help and a great concept.


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