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Creations by Nora 'teaches' holiday decorations

DOVER — Nora Gray was smart enough to know that her creative side would one day trump her educational desires.

She taught emotionally handicapped students for 13 years in East Hillsborough County schools, including helping open Armwood High School in 1984. That also was the year she decided to start a home business in her family room. Out went the furniture by Ethan Allen and in came Creations by Nora.

"(Education) was not my dream," Gray said. "It was a leap of faith. I remember counting my arrangements to see if I had enough to pay the light bill."

It wasn't long before she added a back room extension onto her home. Now she calls a 5,000-square-foot former school portable her work space, and has an additional 4,000 square feet of show space inside her house.

This month she is hosting her 30th annual holiday extravaganza featuring fall and holiday items she brought back from the AmericasMart in Atlanta as well as greenery and floral arrangements she designed herself.

She will open her home at 14639 Sydney Road on Tuesday, Thursday and Oct. 18 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. for anyone who wants to add some rare decor to their home or office. She will have angels, life-sized Santas (for as much as $795) and themed Christmas trees such as the upside down tree or the redneck tree (complete with red Solo cup lights). Collectibles, art, and gift ideas, including a $465 nativity set, will be on display throughout every room of her house except her master bedroom.

People also come for the popular appetizer spread that includes punch, fruit, lemon squares, fudge and veggie pizza.

"I can transform your entire room," said Gray, who also takes her decorating skills on the road. "My things last and that is the only problem. When they purchase, they have to really love it."

Her handy work has been on public display in the halls of Middleton, Hillsborough and Jefferson high schools as well as the FishHawk Trails community. She also has decorated the home of ophthalmologist Greg Henderson, who is Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's fiance, for years.

One client even flew her to Michigan once where she stayed on site for three days until the place was decoratively transformed.

"The good Lord has blessed me with so many creative ideas," said Gray, who has an education degree but no formal design training.

Visit for details.

Entrepreneur starts shopping service

If your wardrobe is full of malfunctions or you would rather see more trendy, current or stylish items hanging in your closet these days, Riverview resident Stephanie Vasciannie wants to help you.

Vasciannie is a self-proclaimed avid shopper with a keen eye for locating many hard to find items for less and she has parlayed that experience into the LUX Shopping Service.

She recently launched this personal shopping experience for people who don't like shopping but want new items. For a $29.95 delivery fee plus 20 percent of the total purchase order, she will get you what you want, and even provide photos of items before purchasing.

If you like shopping, but just need a nudge in the right direction, Vasciannie also offers wardrobe consultation insight and closet consultation to eliminate dated or poorly-fitting pieces. She will help you organize your closet by work and casual clothing sections in three hours for $325.

Visit or call (813) 352-8460.

If you know of something that should be Everybody's Business, contact Eric Vician at