Interesting Facts about one of our Neighbors, the Alligator

Alligators are nesting, and we are at the end of alligator mating season. Alligator courtship begins in early April, and mating occurs in May or June. You might have heard some sounds you are unfamiliar with, and it could have been the alligators mating, as they are noisy. Males are the showiest of the species and they interest their mate by head slapping, vibrating their torso, bellowing, and jaw slapping. The females join in by making a sound more like a growl, but without the fanfare of the showy male. In the animal world, alligator courtship is lengthy, often extending 6-8 weeks with copulation occurring underwater quite a few times during courtship. Interesting fact: males and females may have multiple partners during a courting season and a single clutch of eggs may have multiple paternities.

By June, the female seeks the right location to build her nest. The female piles vegetation and compresses the materials she has gathered and diligently builds her nest. It can take a few days, or upwards of a month for the nest mound to be built. Once the female is satisfied with the nest, she climbs on to the mound and spends several hours slowly turning to make a depression on the top. She then deposits 20 to 50 oval eggs. The female returns to the water’s edge numerous times to gather muddy vegetation to pile on the depression. The incubation period is 65 days. As the alligator embryos develop, it is the heat in the nest that will determine the sex of a baby gator. A temperature of 91 degrees or higher produces a male, a temperature of 86 or below produces a female, and in between the two temps there is a 50-50 chance of either a male or female being born. Lee and I always enjoy getting to know our neighbors; and some facts about the local wildlife too.

Central Florida Has Beautiful Lakes, Enjoy the Ride!

June is the perfect time to take a boat ride on the Chain of Lakes. Bring your hat, sunglasses, sunblock, and your spirit of adventure. Living Waters offers fun tours of the Chain of Lakes. We enjoyed a great day and best of all the Chain of Lakes is only a short drive from Solivita. We parked our car at Harborside Restaurant in Winter Haven where we boarded the Living Waters Pontoon Boat for a two-hour tour. The tour was interesting, the captain was entertaining, and the water was crystal blue and shimmering in the sunlight.

We sat back and enjoyed the ride while sharing a cooler packed with refreshments. We relaxed on the comfortable couch seating on board, and our captain put the Bimini top up to provide us with extra shade. After a relaxing afternoon on the lake we were dropped off at the Harborside Restaurant and shared a delicious dinner. A pleasant way to spend the day, wind in our hair, fresh air in our lungs, and a nice afternoon on the water, plus a delicious fish dinner at Harborside.

If you would like to take a ride with Living Waters on the Chain of Lakes you can find them on the web at: www.livingwatercruises.com

Lorraine’s Famous Blueberry Muffin Recipe

April is Blueberry Season in Central Florida.

Whether you get your blueberries from a bush, a roadside stand, or the local Publix, this season’s berries are predicted to be sweet and delicious. Florida’s blueberry industry is estimated at $82 million dollars a year, making Florida one of the larger berry growers in America.

Central Florida has lots of “Pick Your Own Fruit” farms. We recently took a ride north and found a few farms in Clermont, Yalaha, and Tavares. You can always search the web for a farm, by visiting www.pickyourown.org or just enjoy a ride in the country and see what you find. We enjoyed a great day in the hills of Central Florida, visiting a farm, stopping at the Yalaha Bakery for lunch, and returning home with a loaf of delicious bread and lots of berries. Central Florida is quite diverse and offers a range of activities beyond the giant resorts and parks. We brought home quite the bounty of berries, that I washed, dried, and then put some in the freezer for later. In addition to eating some fresh from the blueberry bowl, I tossed a few in a green salad with feta cheese, we had blueberry pancakes, and I cooked up a batch of blueberry muffins, that I’m freezing to server when company comes.

Please enjoy my blueberry muffin recipe:

Blueberry Muffins

3 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
1 ½ Cups Granulated Sugar
4 ½ TSP Baking Powder
1 TSP Baking Soda
1 TSP Kosher Salt
2 Cups Buttermilk shaken
1 (1/4 lb) stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ TSP Grated Lemon Zest
2 Extra Large Eggs
2 Cups Fresh Blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line Muffin Tins with paper liners. This should make about 20 muffins.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. In a separate blow, mix the buttermilk, butter, lemon zest and eggs. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with a fork just until blended. Fold in the blueberries. Do Not Over Mix. Scoop the batter into the muffin liners, filling them almost full. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until golden.

Center for Great Apes

Our visit to the Center for Great Apes

We were fortunate to be invited to share an afternoon with some friends at the Center for Great Apes in Wauchula, Florida. What an amazing afternoon at an amazing sanctuary! The Center provides a safe environment in a small community with over 100 acres of peaceful tropical forest. The apes and chimpanzees in residence were all raised in captivity by humans and as a result, lack the basic survival skills their chimpanzee or orangutan mothers would have taught them in the wild. Unfortunately, apes and chimpanzees raised in captivity can never be successfully released back to the wild, and this is where the sanctuary steps in.

The sanctuary provides permanent lifetime care to all residents. In fact, Bubbles, who was the late Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee, is one of those residents! In tropical forest surroundings, the chimpanzees and orangutans live and play in large three-story high domed enclosures, the largest being about 70 feet long and 34 feet tall. The enclosures are connected by elevated tunnels giving these great apes the freedom to explore, and in the evening, the residents have “Night Houses” located in high nesting areas. With hammocks and bed shelves, and heating for the winter, they’re strong enough to withstand a hurricane. Additionally, the Center provides for the unique needs of handicapped and older apes as well.

How did the apes come to this sanctuary? Many apes raised in captivity come from the entertainment industry, and once they are done performing, they come to reside in this peaceful environment surrounded by orange groves and away from human development. The Center for Great Apes does not breed, as it would be irresponsible to continue to breed apes for captivity, but focuses on providing the residents with the potential for a safe, healthy, long life.

When living in New Jersey, it was a short trip over the bridge to the Bronx Zoo where the animals were well cared for, but nevertheless I always felt a bit sad for them, as they had lots of street and air traffic noise to contend with. After visiting the Center and enjoying the quiet surroundings, I feel that these apes are lucky to be so well cared for in such a beautiful, tropical spot. The sanctuary has wonderful keepers, all of whom were happy to share the background of each of the residents with us. It was a beautiful day shared with beautiful group of animals and their supportive and knowledgeable caregivers. Please visit the website and meet the apes at: www.centerforgreatapes.org

Spring has arrived and with it, St. Patrick’s Day.

Spring has arrived and with it, St. Patrick’s Day.  

My Niece, Michele and her Mom will be visiting from New Jersey again this year over the St. Patrick’s Day Weekend and we have a nice visit planned.  I am cooking Birthday Dinner for Michele on Friday and we will Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day on Saturday. Included in our Weekend Celebration is the Solivita St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Street Party.  Solivita put on a great Street Party for Mardi Gras this month; the Parade was fun, the Street was packed, and the weather was beautiful. Seems like the Solivita Parties just get better and better. It is always fun to Party in Solivita, we have No Driving Worries, We Party with our Golf Carts, We are Close to Home, and We Have Fun in our Own Community with Our friends and neighbors.  Time to tiptoe through my closet to find something Green to wear.

My Mom and Sister are turning their Lanais into Gardens of Green for St. Patrick’s Day.  The Clover has been planted in Pots, the Dining Tables will be covered in green, the good china, and lace napkins will come out of the cupboard and we will sit down to our Annual Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner.  My favorite part is always the next day, when I make a Corned Beef Sandwich on Rye Covered with Spicy Mustard.

In our Family we are all Irish for one Day and We share the following Irish Blessing.

May the Good Lord take a liking to you…..but not too soon!  

We then share a cocktail.  Some of us drink wine, some of us beer, and one of us water, but there is always a Signature Drink.  My brother-in-law is the Bartender at most parties and he has been busy mixing and testing recipes and it looks like the winner is an Apple Ginger Martini.  Gregg has provided us with this year’s Signature Drink Recipe here: http://bellaverderealty.com/greggs-recipe-for-a-green-apple-ginger-martini/

Part of our Holiday Weekend with the family will be spending quality time together. Michele is a Graduate of the University of Miami, and has been an Event Planner with the NBA for over 10 years, she is a world traveler and always on the road.  A few days of R & R in Solivita will be a welcome break for her. Although most of our family is up North, we do seem to spend more quality time with family now that we live in Florida. When family and friends visit Solivita we have Pajama Parties, we share leisurely meals, and spend afternoons together at the pool, we do a bit of sight seeing, or we play some golf.  Entertaining is Easy in Solivita, there is so much to do. Seems that we have Much More Time to be together now that we live 1,000 miles apart. A nice bonus to living in Central Florida; everyone wants to visit.

See you at the Street Party   I’ll be wearing Green!

From Our Family to Yours Happy St. Patrick’s Day:

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind be always at your back.

May the sunshine be warm upon your face

May the rains fall soft upon your fields

And until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Gregg’s Recipe for a Green Apple Ginger Martini

4 Oz of Ginger Infused Vodka

4 Oz Fresh Green Apple Lime Juice

2 TBSP Honey Simple Syrup

For the Ginger Infused Vodka take 1 Cup of Vodka and infuse a 2” slice of fresh ginger peeled and grated.

For the Green Apple and Lime Juice slice 2 Large tart green apples, add ½ cup water, and the juice of 4 limes.

Infuse the Vodka for about two hours.  The longer you infuse the stronger the ginger flavor will be. Strain the Vodka.

Take the Green Apple Mix and blend on high speed. Strain through a mesh strainer pressing the liquid through the pulp. Reserve the liquid. Dispose of the Pulp, all the flavor will be in the liquid.

Add the ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously till frosty.  Strain and Enjoy.

“A Good Green Cocktail with the Power of Antioxidants plus the Power of Vodka”.

BELLA VERDE HAS BRAGGING RIGHTS:

SOME PEOPLE HAVE BRAG BOOKS AND SHOW PICTURES OF THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN.  LEE AND I GAVE BIRTH TO BELLA VERDE REALTY AND ARE VERY PROUD OF THE BUSINESS WE GREW WITH YOUR HELP.  BELOW FIND THE STATS THAT GIVE US BRAGGING RIGHTS:

As of 1/12/2018 Bella Verde has:

23 Active Listings and

4 Pending Listings (Homes Sold but not yet closed)

 

In 2017 Bella Verde Sold:

36 Homes

And we listed 47 Homes

We are Always Actively Working FOR and WITH All of Our Clients.  Please call, email, or text Lorraine, Lee, or any of our Agents for information on any residence or property you may want to view.  Stop by and see us at 149 Bell Tower Xing in Solivita.  We are always happy to meet with you and to answer any questions you may have.

Solivita is in Central Florida and is an Acclaimed, 55 Plus Community.

Christmas Dinner at Charley’s Steak House

Beautiful Steakhouse, reminiscent of New York Steakhouses, honestly if my eyes had been closed I would have thought I was “back in the day” dining at Peter Lugers in Brooklyn.  But my eyes were open, and Charley’s brought back Nice Memories of earlier years.  Charley’s is clean, comfortable, modern, dark, and delicious just the way you expect a Steakhouse to be.  Charley’s has multiple locations, two that are an easy drive from Solivita.

Our waiter was knowledgeable, he explained the subtle differences of each cut of beef and the flavor profiles each cut offers.  He explained the difference between Wagyu Beef and Kobe Beef and we each selected our steaks.  None of us were disappointed, from cocktails to steaks, dinner was delightful.  Our sides were equally delicious, and our service was wonderful.  Our table started with the Grilled Caesar Salad, and along with our steaks we shared Au Gratin Potatoes, Cedar Plank Cauliflower, and Jumbo Asparagus.  Charley’s is not a Tuesday Night Meal, but rather a Really Nice Meal, to be enjoyed on a Special Occasion.  

The sides were as good as the steaks, in fact the sides were so good, my sister said “next time I dine in Charley’s I am skipping the steak and just enjoying the sides.”

Fun in Florida

We had so many events scheduled in December that we found it hard to keep track of all the events happening in and around Solivita.  We Enjoyed Scrooge the Musical at Osceola Playhouse.  This was a fun event.  Osceola Playhouse is in Kissimmee, only a short drive from Solivita, their website is osceolaarts.org. and it is worth a visit.  The playhouse is a nice spot to see a show, take an art or pottery class, or volunteer and share your talents while learning some new ones.  Osceola Arts always has something going on.   You can buy a ticket for the season and see all their offerings or just purchase a ticket for one show.

We visited Gaylord Palms and experienced Christmas Around the World Ice Event, the Enchanting Light Show, the Cirque Unwrapped Show, and enjoyed the beautiful Christmas Trees at Gaylord.   We visited the Alpine Village, took pleasure in sharing dinner with family, and ended our evening with Coffee by the Firepit.   Gaylord Palms is only a few short miles from Solivita.

We took the children skating in Celebration and we watched the snowfall, Florida Style.

Solivita had a Great Holiday Kick Off to the Season with their Tree Lighting Celebration.  Later we took a golf cart ride around our community to view our neighbors brightly decorated homes and enjoyed hot chocolate on Lemon Grove Drive.  

New Year’s Eve is always fun in Solivita.  We had cocktails, attended the dinner at Mosaics where we enjoyed the company of friends while listening to music.  The Street Party was fun too, we danced the night away in the warmth of the Central Florida Weather.  I think this may have been one of the warmest New Year’s Eves in years.   Solivita poured Champagne, handed out horns and hats, dropped the ball, and began 2018 with a Great Fireworks Display.   What a Pleasure, to have well planned events in our community; nice dinners, dancing, entertainment; all easy and fun since we just hop in our Golf Cart and Go.  Which by the way, was decorated for New Year’s Eve.  

To finish a month of Celebrations, this Saturday we are going to neighbors for their Annual New Year Brunch and on Sunday we are attending Casino Night.  Oh, Monday is Trivia, the plans and events just keeps on coming.  Better look at our calendar as I know we have more planned and we do not want to miss any of it.    Come to Solivita and see for yourself how lovely life in Central Florida truly is.  We Do Live Better Here for Less.  Our neighbors and our neighborhood is active.  You can be busy or not, it is all up to you.    You can participate in planned activities or plan your own.  Spend a day on the golf course, an afternoon at the pool, or an hour playing tennis, all in your own backyard surrounded by beauty and warm weather.  

Dining at the Boathouse

Disney Springs is a great spot to enjoy shopping, dining, bowling, the movies, music, live entertainment, and some good fun within a few short miles of Solivita.  Lee and I always take guests to Disney Springs, it is an easy afternoon or evening, as there is so much to do.  Disney Springs offers something for every age and provides entertainment in all kinds of weather.  Just wandering around the Springs is fun. You can enjoy a pastry, a cup of tea, ice cream, candy, a light snack, a cocktail, or a great dinner.  It is all up to you.  

One of our all-time favorite restaurants at Disney Springs is the Boathouse.  We have never dined inside, but we do love to dine on the deck at the water’s edge.  The lake is beautiful and from the Boathouse Deck you can catch a breeze while enjoying the parade of Vintage Amphicars, Glistening Italian Water Taxis and Ferry Boats sail by.  Lee and I share a glass of wine, and just sit back and enjoy the perfection of Disney Dining, and the beauty of Central Florida.  The fish is always fresh, the steaks are always cooked to order, and the wine list is extensive.  

In the evening, nature provides a beautiful show as the sunset from this spot is spectacular, but since we are at Disney, the Boathouse also has live music, so if the sunset is not spectacular, the music and the wine usually is.   Lee loves the fish tacos, but my favorite menu item is the Lump Crab and Avocado Cocktail, it is the perfect bite for lunch or dinner.  We have dined here many times and have never been disappointed.  Tourists travel from around the world travel to Central Florida, our home.  Travel time from Solivita to Disney Springs is only about 30 minutes; close enough to enjoy this destination often.  We are very lucky to live in the Beautiful Community of Solivita and have world class entertainment at our door.