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Naturally Green Party Spinach Spread

Green beer or *vinho verde (green wine) is a perfect pairing to enjoy with this naturally green and easy to make spread.

1 – 10 oz package of frozen chopped spinach thawed and squeezed dry
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped. Discard stems.
3 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 small clove of garlic minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
½ cup mayonnaise

Thaw spinach and drain thoroughly, squeeze out extra liquid. Wash parsley, pat dry on paper toweling. In food processor, chop parsley. Add spinach and remaining ingredients; pulse till combined. Serve with crackers or raw vegetables.

*Surprise, vinho verde is not actually green in color, but a wine from Portugal that is light and crisp and one of my favorite spring choices.

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Simple, Inexpensive Staging Tips

  • Freshen up your landscape by adding brightly colored flowers to your entry, porch and garden. A welcoming entry adds to the curb appeal of your home and invites potential buyers in.
  • Spruce up your pavers, sidewalk and entrance area with a power wash. Your entry will appear brighter and your home will make a good first impression.
  • Light the lights, open the blinds. – simple fact: a bright, sunlit home sells faster than a home with a dark, moody appearance. 95% of my buyers ask for a home with natural light.
  • If you have any rooms painted in a dark color. Simply buy a gallon of paint in a neutral color and lighten up the dark walls. Light, neutral colors make rooms appear larger and will redirect the focus from a dark wall color to your home’s special features.
  • If you use candles for ambiance or scent, use the battery-operated candles. These candles will create a nice atmosphere and a warm glow in your home without creating a fire hazard.
  • Keep your home temperature comfortable. A cool home will encourage a potential buyer to spend time when viewing your home. Your home will sell quicker than a hot, uncomfortable home will.
  • Always declutter your home and your closets. Moving is the perfect time to reduce your footprint. Donate items, sell items, or simply box up your items to move to your next address. The goal is to have your home appear spacious and appealing with plenty of storage space. Please do not declutter your home and stuff items into a closet. After decluttering, keep your closets organized and clutter free, and always remember to close closet doors when your home is being shown.
  • Keep all toilet lids down and maintain clean bathrooms. A dirty bathroom is a big turn off to a potential buyer.
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Interior Design Styles – What is Yours?

Looking to change up your home design, what is currently in vogue, and what is your style?

As I have matured, I have watched not only my hair color change, but my personal sense of style too. My home design has evolved from classic, to modern, to mid-century, and candidly I still retain pieces from each of my design styles. Rather than put furniture into storage, I find it fun and creative to blend all my design styles into one cohesive decorating style that I affectionately have labeled Florida eccentric.

I love the refined lines and natural shapes of mid-century design when paired with the classic, comfortable feel of an upholstered piece, combined with the beauty of hand rubbed and masterly designed antique furniture. It sounds good and frankly looks good too. The look works when woven together, by keeping the color palette similar and fresh, and the accents simple and timeless. At this stage in our lives, most of us have maintained a few vintage items, mine gathered during our travels, and I find these items add a spark of urban modern to my style with a well-worn international flair. I love my new look and feel inspired each time I walk through my home. I hope you too find inspiration in items you love from earlier years and find fun in incorporating new, or new to you, items into your look. Next door Solivita, our thrift shops, the habitat restore, local flea markets, and our antique shops are all great sources for inspiration and a new look to you and to your home.

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Solivita Events

Solivita had an amazing assortment of creative and fun activities and events in February. No need to leave the community when you can hop in your golf cart, enjoy dinner, a concert, the resident edition of Solivita Master Chef, a car show, an art class, an exercise class, or any one of the educational classes being offered. If a class is not for you, sign up for an event sponsored by one of our over 200 clubs, make some new friends, and join a club or two. Be busy or not, the choice is yours when you are a Solivita resident. Don’t miss out on the fun. Living life in Solivita is a great way to live an inspired life. Less stress and more fun, will add years to your life and life to your years…. Come and grow young with us.

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Cher Concert at the Amway Center in Orlando

Growing up in Madison Square Garden territory, I must admit to seeing a lot of concerts, but I had never had the opportunity to see Cher live in concert. Her tour is billed as a farewell concert. Cher is the first to admit this is not her first farewell tour, but Lee and I wanted to catch her live before it really is her last farewell tour. And I have to say wow! Cher looks great and can still strut her stuff with the best of them, even in those crazy high heels and her body-hugging costumes. Her voice is strong, and her stage show was spectacular. Cher was personable and did an opening act with footage of her early career, when she was Sonny and Cher or Cher and Sonny, as I fondly recall from a routine performed on the 1970’s Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. The opening act was poignant and left me with a real sense of how the loss of Sonny has affected her. Cher spoke briefly of her children when they were young and how they celebrated her 40th birthday. She ended her monologue with an announcement to her fans that she is 72 years young and asked all of us what our “grannies are doing tonight.” I don’t know about your granny, but I know mine stopped strutting her stuff a long time ago. The Amway in Orlando is a nice venue, the acoustics are good, and Church Street rocks when a concert is in town. The only other thing that could have made the night better is a public transportation option. Fingers crossed, as we hope the train continues to gain in popularity and the operating hours are extended affording us the option of traveling to and from Orlando without the I-4 drive.

We celebrated our evening out with a pre-show dinner in downtown Orlando at Kres Chophouse on Church St. A perfect start to the evening as the restaurant is warm and inviting and not your typical noisy steakhouse, but rather subdued with a casual, quiet elegance. Nice white linen on the tables, inviting space and great service. Kres is within walking distance to the Amway and turned out to be a great pick. Our table was comfortable, the wine selection was good, and each glass was served at the right temperature in nice stemware. We were a group of four and together we each shared our entrees. Every dish on our table was plated beautifully and delicious, the soup was spicy and served hot, the salads cool and crisp, the steak was cooked to the perfect temperature, but the pork chop was the undisputed winner at the chop house. It was perfectly tender, slightly pink in the middle, juicy and flavorful. A dish we all agreed we would order again on our next evening at Kres. You can visit Kres on the web at: www.kresrestaurant.com.

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Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Are you wearing green for St. Patrick’s Day? Bella Verde is always in green. It is our official color. Our name (beautiful green), our logo, our front lawn, and this time of the year, even our beer is green. Bella Verde Realty is always happy to market and sell your home and bring some green to your pocket too.

We hope to see you downtown this year at the St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is always a fun event and a good excuse to party with friends and family. Our niece Michele, is usually here for the party, but this year she is planning a big bash in New York (without us) but she promises to visit later in the year. We will miss her, but her late visit will give us a great excuse to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day twice this year, once now and again when she arrives.

Lee and I hope you enjoy a slice of soda bread, Irish stew, a wee dram of Irish whisky, a good corned beef sandwich or just a few laughs with friends and family. Whatever you do, we hope the luck of the Irish is with you now and all year through.

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French Onion Soup

I am providing this recipe in the spirit of Café Margaux. Lee and I love this soup, especially this time of the year when evening temperatures dip to 50 or so….BRRR. Sometimes, to increase the vitamin content, I add diced tomatoes (fresh when in season or canned when not) and finely diced carrots, to the broth. Once I make these changes, we rename the soup to Solivita Onion Soup.

4 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
2 Tbsp Butter
8 Cups Thinly Sliced Onions (3 lbs approx.)
3 Cloves Garlic Minced
½ cup wine (port, or a dry red wine)
2 Cartons 32 Oz each Beef Broth Low Sodium
½ Tsp Pepper
¼ Tsp Salt
½ Tsp Herbs de Provence
1 French Baguette to slice and toast
¾ cups shredded Gruyere or Swiss Cheese

In a heavy bottom pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add onions, cook and stir until softened, about 10-15 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and cook stirring occasionally until deep golden brown. This should take about 30 – 40 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook a few minutes longer.

Stir in wine. Bring to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced by ½. Add broth, herbs de provence, pepper and salt to taste, and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered stirring occasionally for about 1 hours.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice baguette and toast on a baking sheet. Turn baguette slices over and add shredded cheese to top and cook until melted and slightly browned.

Serve soup in bowls and float toasted cheese baguettes on top.

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Welcome to Real Estate 101: Determining the List Price for Your Home.

Every seller wants to get the maximum price for their home when selling their property. At Bella Verde Realty, we not only help you get the best price for your home, but as professional realtors we strive to partner with every client and engage each client completely in the transaction. We believe this philosophy is the key to creating satisfied, happy, knowledgeable home owners and sellers.

The sale price of your home is based upon many factors; the condition of the property, the COMPS (comparatives) in your neighborhood, and LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. If you already live in Solivita, your home is in a good location and a good neighborhood. The next factors used in determining the value of your home: the model, the square footage, the location of the property within your community, the condition of your home and the upgrades. The community of Solivita is known as a Production Community. Translation – a community with one builder, with set model homes. Example – if you own an Operetta Model Home, the base value of your home will be compared to other Operetta Model Homes. The next step an experienced realtor will take is to visit you and your property for a listing appointment. During this meeting a good realtor will come prepared with basic information on your home and your lot.

For example, a good realtor will know if you are on an oversized lot, on conservation, or a pond lot, or any other special lot features that may exist. During this listing appointment the realtor will do a walk-through of your home to review improvements and changes you have made, and the general condition of your property; both inside and outside. Your realtor will be looking to see the age of your roof, age and condition of your kitchen and bathrooms, age of your appliances, HVAC, plus any other updates to the floorplan. Once your realtor has completed their walk through, the above factors are considered and a value for sale will be determined. If you feel comfortable with the realtor and the determined price, the next step is to sign the paperwork and clear away any clutter; as your home will be on the market. Photos will be taken for the website and potential buyers will be viewing your home on the web and visiting your property with a realtor. A good realtor will take care of arranging all appointments and keeping you apprised of all developments.

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Day Trip to St. Petersburg

Looking for a great deli? If you go to Mazzaro’s in St. Petersburg, you have come to the right place. Mazzaro’s is not exactly the NY Italian Market of my youth but, about as close, as I have found in Florida. Growing up, great delicatessens were on every corner. The sandwich of my youth was an Italian Hero with fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, and broccoli rabe. After all, Mom always told me to eat lots of vegetables. The deli man would layer the lovely soft, warm and slightly salty, cheese on freshly baked crusty Italian bread, add a dash of olive oil, wrap the sandwich in deli paper and tie it with red and white butcher twine. I fondly recall the deli man reaching over the counter and handing me this delicious treat.

Mazzaro’s does make fresh mozzarella, and for an extra bonus, there is a well-stocked cheese department, so you can get all your favorite cheeses in one stop shopping. The grocery section of the deli is well stocked with a large selection of items ranging from fig jam to imported sundried tomatoes. The selection of groceries is quite extensive, the bread is fresh, and the bakery is always busy turning out cookies and pastries. You can eat in or take out. The deli also offers a nice wine selection and a great list of tasty, hot items. Lee and I make a day of it. Before doing our take home shopping, we buy a bottle of wine and enjoy a delicious lunch. After lunch we enjoy a fun shopping experience. We love choosing specialty items to enjoy at home, and to share with friends and family in Solivita. Mazzaro’s is a bit of a drive, but well worth the effort. If a day at a deli is not your thing, you can always spend the morning at the Salvatore Dali Museum in St. Pete and then drive over to Mazzaro’s for a snack. However, you plan your day, between the Deli and Dali, your day in St. Petersburg will be a true treat for all of your senses. You can visit Mazzaro’s Market online at MazzarosMarket.com.

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Fun in the Florida Sun at Cocoa Beach

Recently some of our friends and family spent a few days out at Cocoa Beach at the Inn at Cocoa Beach. They returned, refreshed with glowing reports of the wonderful hotel and beach. The weather was perfect, the water was calm, the sand was soft, and the complimentary breakfast and cocktail hour served at the hotel delightful. The Inn at Cocoa Beach is beach front and an alluring area to get away from it all. The rooms are spotless, a bit small, but nicely appointed. Quite the treat to have such a great beach get-away within 70 miles of Solivita.

Sarah, a family friend and self-proclaimed restaurant snob, made dinner reservations at Café Margaux in Cocoa. According to Sarah, Café Margaux did not disappoint. The entire group returned with reports of beautifully plated delicious food and good service. Sarah’s restaurant recommendations are usually on the expensive side, but we have never been disappointed in one of her picks. We have added this restaurant to our to-do list for the next time we find ourselves in need of a nice evening out in the Cocoa Beach Area. You can visit the Inn at Cocoa Beach online at TheInnAtCocoaBeach.com.