Christina K. Cosdon, Times Staff Writer

Christina K. Cosdon

A native of Washington, D.C., Christina Cosdon grew up in northern Virginia in a high-energy family heavy into the arts. She worked for the Washington bureau of the Reader's Digest before moving to Florida and joining the Times in the early 1970s. Over the years, she has written about everything from road projects to grand prix show jumping.

Phone: (727) 445-4154


  1. Annual French Market is Saturday in Largo


    LARGO — The city's popular French Market opens Saturday for its annual one-day shopping festival.

    Visitors wandering the market grounds on Indian Rocks Road will find everything from gumbo and grits to French pastries, garden art, repurposed vintage jewelry and shabby chic furniture.

    This year, for the first time, the market is a fundraiser for Heritage Village and the Botanical Gardens Foundation. Those who join the Botanical Gardens Foundation for $30 during the market will receive $50 in gifts in a hand-painted, reuseable tote bag....

    Handcrafted wreaths and floral arrangements will be among the items at Julie’s Cottage at Provence during the French Market.
  2. Look closely: It's art in miniature at Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art

    Human Interest


    Imagine the details of an artwork so intricate a magnifying glass is needed to see them clearly.

    Magnifying glasses will be available to visitors at the Miniature Art Society of Florida's annual Miniature Art Exhibit for those who want to more closely examine the small award-winning paintings, carvings, drawings and porcelain works from around the world.

    The judged show is at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art now through Feb. 10 on the Tarpon Springs campus of St. Petersburg College, 600 Klosterman Road. Some 800 works by 204 artists from 10 countries and 31 states are on display, as well as the society's permanent collection of 100 miniatures and the Miniature Artists of America's Traveling Exhibition....

an oil by Gail MacArgel of St. Peters, Mo., is one of 796 works by 204 artists on display at the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs campus.
  3. Restaurant Depot supplier opens a new warehouse in Largo


    LARGO — A one-stop shopping center for people in the food industry has opened here, and that's exciting news for customers who have trekked miles across the bay bridges to shop at a similar store in Tampa.

    Restaurant Depot is a 57,000-square-foot wholesale membership club with loyal followers in the food industry. Company officials expect some 3,000 first-time Pinellas County customers to sign up for the store's free memberships and another 1,000 who currently shop at the Tampa store to start shopping in Largo....

    Sal Vitiello, left, his son John Vitiello and John’s wife, Season, check out the new Restaurant Depot on Tuesday during a preview before the grand opening. They own Bella Italia Pizzeria & Restaurant, which has been in the area for 31 years.
  4. Belleair Bluffs catering company will take its business anywhere


    BELLEAIR BLUFFS — Edna Morris got a surprise the first time she sampled hors d'oeuvres made by En Garde caterers.

    "The food was just incredible," she recalled of that holiday open house. "I couldn't believe they were going to be in our area."

    Morris isn't easily impressed, particularly by food. She is a past president of Red Lobster, has been on the board of the Culinary Institute of America, and is the managing director of a private equity fund that focuses on restaurants and education services. She and her husband, David Forester, own two restaurants. He owns a winery. ...

    Bill Munette, 46, left, and Robb Schoonmaker, 52, are co-owners of En Garde Catering, which features daily prepared meals and side dishes for takeout or eating in at a small table.
  5. En Garde catering and takeout shop rack up the compliments


    BELLEAIR BLUFFS — Edna Morris got a surprise the first time she sampled hors d'oeuvres made by En Garde caterers.

    "The food was just incredible," she recalled of the holiday open house.

    Morris isn't easily impressed, particularly by food. She is a past president of Red Lobster, has been on the board of the Culinary Institute of America, and is the managing director of a private equity fund that focuses on restaurants and education services. She and her husband, David Forester, own two restaurants. He owns a winery....

    Bill Munette, left, and Robb Schoonmaker have a takeout shop and a catering kitchen.
  6. Country music star to perform at hospice fundraiser in Largo

    Human Interest

    LARGO — Country music star Mark Wills and young singing sensation Suite Caroline are to be the featured entertainment at "Country Nights and Garden Lights," a Saturday evening fundraiser for Suncoast Hospice.

    The show will start at 6 p.m. on the grounds of Serenity Gardens Memorial Park in Largo.

    Wills, 38, is a platinum-selling singer-songwriter with eight top 10 hits, including 19 Something, Wish You Were Here and Don't Laugh at Me. He won the Academy of Country Music award for Top New Male Vocalist in 1998. Born in Tennessee, he grew up in Georgia....

  7. Mario Deslauriers wins American Invitational equestrian title in Tampa


    TAMPA — Mario Deslauriers won the $200,000 American Invitational on Saturday night after defeating 31 other riders under the lights of Raymond James Stadium.

    Deslauriers, 47, captured the title over four other riders who made it to Olympic course designer Steve Stephen's shorter, faster jump-off. Deslauriers won with a time of 44.50 seconds, defeating Molly Ashe-Cawley by 1.31 seconds before a crowd of more than 8,000. The 41-year-old Wellington resident also won the Invitational in 2001 and 2002....

  8. American Invitational equestrian comes to Tampa on Saturday


    TAMPA — An international lineup of Olympians, past Invitational champions and some of this country's most celebrated riders will compete with their elite horses in tonight's $200,000 American Invitational under the lights at Raymond James Stadium.

    It's the 40th anniversary of the prestigious show-jumping event named in honor of its late founder, Gene Mische. The Invitational, limited to 30 riders, is this country's only stadium setting for a major championship....

  9. Beezie Madden, with Mademoiselle, wins Grand Prix of Tampa Bay


    TAMPA — Two-time Olympian Beezie Madden and her horse, Mademoiselle, won the $50,000 Grand Prix of Tampa at the Florida State Fairgrounds on Sunday.

    Madden and veteran rider Margie Engle were the only two riders among 12 to complete Michel Vaillancourt's World Cup course fault-free. They advanced to the shorter jumpoff.

    Madden, 48, of Cazenovia, N.Y., and Engle, 54, of Wellington, had one rail down in the jumpoff. Madden and her 15-year-old German mare completed the eight jumps in 42.01 seconds. ...

    Beezie Madden and her horse, Mademoiselle, clear a fence during the Grand Prix of Tampa at the Florida State Fairgrounds. Madden, a two-time Olympic team gold medalist, wins the event in a jumpoff against Margie Engle and her horse, Pauly du Bruel.
  10. Tampa Equestrian Festival opens at Florida State Fairgrounds


    TAMPA — The annual Tampa Equestrian Festival opens today at the Florida State Fairgrounds with events featuring everything from fast and scopey grand prix horses partnered by the nation's top show jumping riders to feisty little ponies and their even smaller young riders.

    Gates open at 8 a.m. today through Sunday. Each day has 30 to 70 equestrian competitions. The festival is closed Monday. It reopens at 8 a.m. Tuesday and continues through April 7, culminating in the $200,000 Gene Mische American Invitational at Raymond James Stadium....

  11. Spreading chocolate happiness: Largo man's candy-making hobby led to thriving business



    Bill Brown was an executive with a global business services company and had never made candy when he was inspired by a television program to make hand-rolled truffles as a surprise for his staff.

    The surprise was on him.

    Candymaking, particularly chocolate, became a passion that took him from hobbyist to a serious student of top chocolatiers, and finally to a second career as William Dean Chocolates, a business named after his father, William, and his grandfather Dean....

    “Chief Chocolate Officer” Bill Brown of Largo heats a batch of William Dean 64 percent chocolate while making truffles, with Patti Mullen in the background. Brown’s new shop will have a grand opening in January.
  12. Shapely legs bring pure tone to Royal Ebony piano, Largo creator discovers

    Music & Concerts


    The day the baby grand piano arrived, 12-year-old Justin Elliott was captivated. His parents had purchased the piano mainly for decoration, but the youngster taught himself to play it.

    When a technician came to tune the piano a year later, Elliott discovered he had an ear for tuning. He focused his curiosity on learning the piano's intricate mechanics and how to control its complex sound. By age 15, he was apprenticed to a longtime local piano tuner who marveled at his talent and ear. ...

    Justin Elliott chats with concert pianist and University of Tampa assistant professor of music Grigorios Zamparas as Zamparas plays the Royal Ebony piano in the Grand Salon in Plant Hall at the University of Tampa. With new curved legs designed by Elliott, the piano has a different, more pure tone when it’s played.
  13. As E&E Steakout Grill remodels, Plaza 100 merchants offer perks to keep customers shopping


    BELLEAIR BLUFFS — The interior of the popular E&E Steakout Grill is a shambles. It's hot and dusty. Plastic hangs from doorways, and ears are assaulted by construction sounds.

    But it's all for a good reason.

    Chef Erwin Scheuringer has spent the past month studying blueprints and directing the tearing down and rebuilding of his kitchen, as well as the installation of new plumbing, air conditioning, carpeting and other improvements to the 4,500-square-foot eatery....

  14. Cattitude cage-free cat boarding and grooming opens in Largo



    When Lisa Menze decided to open a cat-boarding business, she knew she wanted the felines' home away from home to be cage-free.

    "I hate seeing cats in cages," Menze said.

    Instead she built and decorated 14 rooms for the visitors and dubbed the place Cattitude, a resort that pampers cats.

    The facility has an enclosed playground for her four-legged guests, complete with climbing trees and an exercise wheel that's similar to a hamster wheel, only cat-sized....

    A guest at Cattitude, a new cat-boarding business, shows off the latest rage, nail tips. The tips are slipped over the cat’s claws, preventing the pet from shredding furniture and serving as an alternative to surgical removal.
  15. Guns, Indian artifacts and other treasures for sale at Belleair Bluffs shop


    BELLEAIR BLUFFS — One has to carefully step over and around some of the priceless artifacts in Tom McKaughan's new antique shop. That's part of the charm.

    It's a guy place. But it offers rare treasures.

    Shoppers will find artifacts displaying the colorful artistry of American Indians, historic weaponry used by soldiers in past wars, and eye-popping chunks of turquoise polished and crafted into modern silver jewelry. ...

    McKaughan’s little shop is filled with his treasures, including stuffed snakes, old Western saddles, old cameras and more. Its American Indian artifacts are rarely found in the East.