The Perfect Dinner Salad and a Blueberry Swirl Ice Treat

Lee and I enjoy a salad for dinner in the summer weather, and we find this salad to be delicious and satisfying and really good when followed by the Blueberry Swirl Treat below.

Pear and Endive Main Course Chopped Salad

2 Tsp Sherry Vinegar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Heads of Endive (about 1 Pound total) halved and sliced into ½ inch half moons
1 Cup Parsley Leaves
2 firm but ripe pears, cut in quarters, cored, and sliced
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 – 4 Oz Wedge Blue Cheese sliced.
Salt and Pepper

In a large bowl whisk vinegar, oil and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper. Add endive, parsley, and pear. Toss to coat in dressing. Arrange on 2 plates and top with pecans and blue cheese.

Blueberry Swirl Ice Treat

2 cups blueberries, frozen or fresh
2 Tablespoons honey or agave
2 cups Vanilla Greek Yogurt

Blend the blueberries in a food processor or blender until nearly liquified to a smooth consistency. Pour the blueberry liquid into a large bowl. Stir in the honey or agave. Add the yogurt and gently mix together. Leave patches of blue and white. Taste and adjust sweetener. Freeze in popsicle molds. This is a good recipe for a sweet treat.

Florida Road Trips

We recently took an overnight trip from Solivita to St. Augustine and had a wonderful evening at the St. Augustine Lighthouse enjoying a sunset moonrise tour. We saw a spectacular sun set behind the city while the moon rose over the Atlantic, for a really nice evening. We had purchased tickets a few months ago and our ticket included a champagne toast supplied by San Sebastian Winery and hors d’oeuvres provided by the Reef Restaurant. This tour is only available one day per month. If you wish to go, please purchase your ticket in advance. For the balance of this year, this tour will be held on the following days; Monday, September 24th, Wednesday, October 24th and Saturday, December 22nd.

Cassadaga, the Psychic Capital of the World :

Who knew that we not only live near the Entertainment Capital of the US, but the Psychic Capital of the World as well? If you’re looking for a different experience, visit Cassadaga! Cassadaga is about 75 miles from Solivita, north of Sanford. The town is a throw back to the days of Mayberry, set in the backwoods between Daytona and Orlando and is a sanctuary for mediums, healers, spiritualists, psychics, new agers, and a religious group. The religious group runs a non-profit organization and operate a camp and the new agers use tarot cards and provide readings in the Cassadaga Hotel. If you go to Cassadaga, make an appointment, and go with an open mind as you never know who may want to send a message to you, or the direction of your reading. Our reader was Misty and she had some interesting thoughts. She seemed to know us quite well for a lady who knew nothing about us. It was puzzling how she zoomed right in. Some of the folks we were with left Cassadaga amazed, and some were amused, but we were all entertained. The town is interesting and is a nice drive from Solivita. While you are waiting for your reading, or for your group to gather after a reading, the restaurant in the Hotel offers a delightful menu, including liquid spirts, and is the perfect spot to discuss your experiences in Cassadaga. You can take a tour, take a class, have a reading, experience a healing, or just enjoy a meal, but whatever you do here you will certainly have an interesting time.

The Cassadaga Hotel is allegedly haunted, and if you are interested you can schedule a Ghost Tour while in town or spend an evening at the hotel. We did not personally experience any spirits while we were there, that is, except for the spirits in our drinks at the hotel. Cassadaga is a fun experience and certainly made for an interesting afternoon. If you would like to see what Cassadaga is all about, visit the following websites: http://www.cassadaga.org/ or http://cassadagahotel.net/.

Happy September and Happy Labor Day

Although most of us no longer labor in the workplace, some of us do, and it is always nice to have a day off from the usual action. September is the start of Central Florida’s fall growing season. Being a Realtor has taught me to be observant, whether I am showing a home, doing a walk through for a listing, or just observing life in general, I appreciate the details. I love this time of the year, the weather is about to cool off, the afternoon shadows grow longer and longer, and I always keep a look out for the first purple martins of the season as they travel from north to south. This time of the year ushers in the start of fall and the glorious weather that is about to visit Central Florida. Unfortunately, it is also Hurricane Season, and the time of the year for Tropical Storms. Let’s hope this year the hurricanes stay far out at sea.

September is also the time to plant our vegetable gardens in Solivita. Remember to enrich your garden beds with peat, composted products, or animal manures before planting.

Hosting a Broker’s Open House

Realtors in Solivita typically host a broker’s open house, inviting local realtors and industry professionals to view your residence upon listing your home for sale. A broker’s open house gives your listing more exposure and allows realtors to gather informed feedback from other real estate professionals. If your home shows well, the agents who toured your home may recommend your home to one or more of their buyer clients. The more “buzz” we can generate the better the chance of planting a SOLD sign on your front lawn in a timely manner. I forward all broker comments to the seller and the experts at Bella Verde Realty review all comments as well. If your home does not get great reviews, do not be upset, this is our opportunity to make a few subtle changes while we keep showing your home. Relax, your home will sell. We know it can be a stressful process, but it will be worth it in the end.

Bella Verde Realty also hosts Client Open Houses. Usually these open houses are set on a Saturday or a Sunday for a few hours in the afternoon. I always suggest when we host a Client Open House that the sellers place fresh flowers in a vase in the entry and set their dining room table as if they were hosting a small dinner party. The key is to make your home inviting and warm to a prospective buyer. You want the buyer to see themselves living in and loving your home. A neglected home is an invitation to a low offer. A well cared for home is inviting and will secure solid, reasonable offers.

Whenever your house is on the market, it needs to be show ready. Light the lights as light brightens the space and makes rooms appear larger. Open all curtains and blinds and let the natural light stream in. Always remember that buyers will judge your home on the outside too. Spruce up your porch furniture, make sure the shrubs are looking good, and if your outside entry provides space for a few plants, place a few freshly potted flowers around to add color and interest.

The most important thing is to stay open to buyers’ comments and to follow your agent’s advice. Whatever the advice, remember it is NOT PERSONAL – it is just the business of selling your home.

Fabulous Honey Garlic Chicken

My favorite (at the moment) weeknight chicken:
This is a perfect recipe for a simple hot weeknight dinner made in a crock pot without heating up the house.

Honey garlic chicken in a slow cooker

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp ketchup
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
½ tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
Mix together the minced garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce and oregano. Pour this mixture over the chicken and stir to coat well.
Add the chicken to the slow cooker
Cover the slow cooker and cook for 3 hours on high. Top with sesame seeds and scallions.

Fun in the Sun in Central Florida

Aug. 25: Wine Walk & Art Walk, New Smyrna Beach. This is always a fun event. Stroll Flagler Avenue and explore over 100 interesting wines inside local pubs, galleries and restaurants during this monthly progressive wine tasting event. $25 tasting passports on sale day of the event at three locations along Flagler Avenue. If you have enjoyed this event before, bring back your official glass and get a discount for the wine walk event held 1 to 7 p.m. This event is held in conjunction with Art Walk. Local and visiting artists display art work, along with entertainment and demonstrations from 10 am to 5 pm.

Magical Dining Month

It is the start of magical dining month in Orlando. This will be the 13th season for this month-long event!

A three course meal with over 90 restaurants to choose from for $35.00 – what a deal! This is not only a good deal for diners, but a good deal for charities too, as $1.00 from each magical meal served during magical dining month is donated to pre-selected charities. The dates for this event are August 24th through September 30, 2018 and if you visit the Magical Dining Orlando site you will see the list of restaurants and their magical dining menus.

In 2017, two local non-profit organizations shared a total of $208,620.00 raised from this event. A record donation raised during 2017 magical dining month, it sure looks like we have a lot of foodies in the neighborhood. The two charities selected to receive the donations in 2017 were Freedom Ride and Base Camp.

Freedom Ride is a non-profit 501c, volunteer-based organization dedicated to enriching the lives and experiences of children and adults with disabilities in Central Florida through therapeutic horseback riding and related activities. If you would like to donate, or volunteer, you can find more information at www.freedomride.com.

Base Camp is a non-profit 501c organization based in Winter Park. What does Base Camp mean? Base Camp has double meaning; First it is an acronym for believe, achieve, support and educate and second it is symbolic of the encampments found at the base of a mountainside where climbers stop for rest, first aid, nourishment, and encouragement along their journey up the mountain. Base Camp offers a place to stop along the journey, a place to gain strength and support for the climb ahead while fighting a life-threatening illness. Base Camp provides a year-round base of support for children and families who are facing the challenge of living with cancer and other life-threatening hematological illnesses. Base Camp serves not only the children who are patients, but their brothers and sisters too. You can find more information at www.basecamp.org.

Central Florida is more than good food and kind acts. The longer we live in Florida the more certain we are that we are not only living life in a beautiful state, but we are living life surrounded by kind and generous neighbors and friends.

Labor Day

Wanted to wish y’all a happy Labor Day. Sending wishes early as the next newsletter won’t be out till after the Labor Day party is over! Labor Day signifies the unofficial end of summer and the start to the fall season. Well almost, as fall does not usually arrive in Central Florida until about November, then it basically lasts till February when spring starts. I just love it here!

Rental Property in Florida

How long should I hold on to my investment property?

ROI (return on investment) varies based on many factors, your costs to maintain the property; taxes, HOA, insurance, etc. If the investment property carries a mortgage, the interest rate is a factor as well. There is never a guarantee that a property will increase in value, but let’s say you did some solid research, purchased your property in a desirable location at a good price. This is where the old real estate adage applies; location, location, location. You can now assume your property value will hold, and most likely will increase by about 2%-3% per year. Yes, this is a modest increase, but in today’s real estate market this is a reasonable expectation. Markets do change quickly, and your investment property value rises or falls dependent upon geographical stability, age and condition, size and improvement, population movement, taxes, and the surrounding neighborhood. It is always a smart move to closely watch all investment properties to be certain that your investment is providing the return you anticipated. Of course, if your investment property is generating an income; it pays to hold that property until you have achieved your personal goal. I have many clients who purchase homes in anticipation of living or retiring to their investment property in the future. In the interim, the client has a home in a great location, purchased at a good price, that is generating an income. When they are ready to retire to Florida their home is ready to live in and enjoy.

Many clients also rent their Solivita home for the winter season; usually November thru April. During the other six months, they visit, vacation, and enjoy the benefits of owning a home in the award-winning community of Solivita. If you were to choose this option in Solivita your property would not generate an income but instead would cover the ownership costs and provide you and your family a great place to relax and vacation while you try out the fabulous Solivita lifestyle.

Not to be forgotten in the equation is the tax benefits of a rental property. However, you choose to manage your investments, home ownership is always a good choice to consider.

Hurricane Season Is Here

The Atlantic Hurricane Season started June 1st and hurricanes were the cause of major damage in Florida and the Carolinas during the 2016 and 2017 Seasons. Folks living in coastal areas are most at risk, but hurricanes also bring high winds and rain inland to Central Florida. Reminding us all of the old adage “Better to be Safe than Sorry”. Hurricane Irma in September of 2017 cut power to thousands of customers. Happy to say, Solivita has underground wiring and a secure power grid. SOLIVITA DID NOT lose power but, knowing you are prepared will bring peace of mind and comfort to you and those that love you.

Assemble an Emergency Kit, safeguard all important documents, keep your medication in a safe location, and sign up for emergency alerts by logging in to Polk County Emergency Management. https://polk-county.net/emergency-management.

As we know, severe weather can strike quickly, creating a variety of dangerous situations. We all have a responsibility to stay tuned to the National Weather Service, local media and emergency management for special warnings or instructions during severe weather events.