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Happy Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a beautiful day to celebrate love and relationships. It is not just a day for couples to celebrate, but rather a day for each of us to celebrate our beloved relationships with friends, family, and neighbors. It is truly a day to celebrate all of those around us that we love and appreciate. The day originally started as a religious celebration but today has emerged, unfortunately like most holidays, as a day for the retailers to market the sale of chocolate, flowers, and gifts. Instead of concentrating on the commercial side of Valentine’s Day, Lee and I are planning a nice celebration embracing our love of each other and our circle of friends and family. We hope Valentine’s Day is a sweet day for you and yours.

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Snowbird Update

Snowbirds have arrived in Central Florida and are busy looking for new places to feather their nests in the warmth of Florida. If you are considering selling your home, now is the time. Just call, email or text us and we will be happy to perform a free market analysis of your home. Bella Verde Realty is always here to answer questions, provide insight, and help you make the right decision when you are considering the sale of your home.

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Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

Have you made your New Year’s Resolution to eat healthier? We have, and since it is only January, we have not yet lost our resolve. Listed below is a delicious recipe that we have both been enjoying:

Mustard-Maple Roasted Salmon

2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
2 TBSP Finely Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1 TBSP Light Mayonnaise
2 TSP Pure Maple Syrup
4 – 5 Oz. Skinless Center Cut Salmon Filets
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Mix together the mustard, 1 TSP of the cilantro, the mayo and maple syrup in a bowl. Put the salmon filets on the baking sheet and sprinkle with ¼ Tsp each salt and pepper. Spread some of the mustard mixture evenly over each fillet.

Bake until just cooked through, 10 – 12 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 1 TSP cilantro and enjoy.

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Fun in Central Florida

During December we had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful historic Howey Mansion in the Lake County community of Howey in the Hills. This home, built in 1925 by William J. Howey, is set back on a wide lawn and was designed by Katherine Cotheal Budd and has become a Central Florida treasure. It is quite possible that the Howey Mansion is the only remaining example of Katherine’s work. William J. Howey was a land promoter and a citrus grower who used the fledgling citrus industry of central Florida as his economic base. William and Mary completed the plans for this home and by 1927 were residents of this lovely mansion.

Unfortunately, the Howey Mansion had been long-abandoned and was in dire need of restoration until Brad and Clay Cowherd, Brothers and Florida Natives, waked in and decided to restore the Mansion to its former glory. Their father and grandfather were longtime participants in real estate development in Orlando and the entire family were frequent visitors to the Yalaha Area. The brothers had long planned to restore the mansion and, have taken great joy in restoring the Howie Mansion to the beautiful home it is today. The restoration of this lovely home is a labor of love that has been shared by the entire family. The family loves the home and says It is a privilege and honor to have been able to bring this lovely landmark back to life.

This beautiful home is open for tours, an overnight stay, or as a venue for a private event. In addition, the Howey Mansion hosts a music series and seasonal events. Please visit the website and visit the home; I know you will enjoy it.

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Hooked on the Home Improvement Craze!

I am seeing lots of clients following the home improvement craze and re-doing a room or two in their homes. I have been keeping track of the re-dos, and the room leading the pack for the most renovations seems to be the Master Bath. The beauty of our homes in Solivita is every model has a generous master bathroom that lends to an easy renovation. Some of the renovations I have seen are simple – a tile change, a lighting update, or a shower door or mirror change, but I have seen a few extensive remodels. My informal survey tells me that every resident who has changed their master bath loves their redone space. Proving that whatever you decide to do, chances are you will love it. That is, once the dust has cleared.

Gray seems to be the color this year; from gray walls to gray cabinetry, this color is still hot. Some of the changes that are quite popular are premium features such as dual showers, one-piece toilets, vessel sinks and floating built-in vanities. I personally love the look of the built-in floating vanities as this style also visually enlarges the size of your space. Seems that lots of mixed metal are currently in style, with gray mixed with matte nickel and polished chrome, shimmering glass and stainless light fixtures being not only popular, but stunning. Contemporary seems to be the way my homeowners are going with their renovations.

After meeting with a few homeowners, their advice is to simply add or change your master bath to meet your wants for now but plan for your future requirements. Some homeowners have removed their bathtubs and replaced them with enlarged showers, some have added dual shower heads, rain showers, plus, I have seen one or two steam showers. The other change I see is the bathtub area being replaced with a linen closet, cabinetry, or a dressing table area. One of my homeowners replaced their built-in tub with a free-standing statement tub. Nearly one quarter of my homeowners have changed their bath layout, but every homeowner incorporated accessibility features into their new master bath.

Some of the accessibility features include the installation of seats in the shower, grab bars in the showers and tubs, the installation of non-slide floors, and adult height toilets. These changes will not only enhance your daily life but will also increase the value of your home. The cost to renovate a bath depends upon the type of renovation done. The industry estimates you can expect a ROI of about 60% of your renovation cost therefore; do not renovate your master bath to sell your home but rather for your enjoyment now and the ROI later.

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Toy Drive for Foster Children

Our Toy Drive was a huge success! The children of GAL thank you and so do we. This year in addition to delivering toys, we had friends and neighbors bring hand-made quilts, gifts, and blankets for the children. We had friends donate and assemble brand new complete outfits of clothing, in various sizes for boys and girls, and Michele of the NBA pitched in and donated lots and lots of NBA licensed gear. Gifts came from near and far. Wow! How lucky are we and the children of GAL!! Our clients, friends, and neighbors in Solivita and the northeast came through again. A big thank you to each and every one of you. Bella Verde shopped, and shopped, and shopped again to keep up with your generosity. We all had some fun filling up the sleigh. Thank you to everyone who shopped, donated, helped, packed up items, and shared in the collection of gifts for these wonderful children. Santa’s sleigh was certainly full. Solivita is a beautiful community, but what truly makes it beautiful is the folks call Solivita home. Each of you add to the beauty of Solivita and the joy of living our life here.

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Happy New Year!

Happy New Year y’all! Lee and I hope the holidays delivered great joy to you and yours. The holidays in Solivita were wonderful. Our Southern home town of Solivita and Mother Nature decked the halls in festive fashion. The gardens are brimming with seasonal flowers and plants, and the Solivita Calendar of Events was full of all sorts of activities, parties and celebrations. It’s hard not to be busy living in such an active, vibrant community. During the holiday season we enjoyed a night of wine and painting, a warm and wonderful evening filled with fun, friendship and a delicious German dinner hosted by Gaby and Hans. We learned a few new recipes at the Chef’s Holiday Dessert Cooking Demo, we loved the Entertainment Charity Review Show, and with family we shared a festive golf cart ride through Solivita to enjoy the holiday decorations of our friends and neighbors. We experienced all this fun without having to leave the community, while enjoying the beauty and warmth of Central Florida. No coats, hats, gloves or gas required. We feel blessed and grateful to reside in Solivita.

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Easy Pumpkin Bread – Great for Breakfast, or a Tasty Snack Anytime

3 Eggs
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ½ cups pumpkin
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 ¼ cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
Zest of One Orange
¾ cup chopped pecans

Beat eggs and sugar together well. Add pumpkin, oil and vanilla; mix thoroughly. Sift flour, soda, baking powder, salt and spices. Add to pumpkin mixture and beat. Add pecans. Pour into two well-greased loaf pans and Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Dried Cranberries are a delicious substitute for the nuts. These loafs freeze well too and make a great breakfast with a cup of yogurt or fruit.

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We Welcome Taylor Morrison to Solivita

Taylor Morrison is a leading homebuilder and developer; and recently was recognized as America’s Most Trusted™ Home Builder. Lee and I, and the Realtors at Bella Verde Realty are looking forward to the new Taylor Morrison home designs, and the creative, inspiring ideas they will bring to Solivita and the surrounding communities yet to be built, but on the Taylor Morrison Drawing Board. Taylor Morrison builds with custom designed detail, and an eye toward style while delivering homes with a high standard of excellence. They are building simply great homes for simply great folks. Bella Verde is inspired and delighted to be working with Taylor Morrison as we complete the build out of Solivita and begin to build new family communities in the surrounding area. Our Bella Verde Realtors are all New Home Certified and are ready to help you build your new home from ground breaking to closing. It is to the home owner’s benefit to utilize an independent realtor when building a home, as the independent realtor works for your benefit, does NOT cost the home buyer, but the knowledge a New Home Certified Realtor brings to your build is invaluable and will save you time and money in the long run.

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Small Changes Can Make A Huge Difference

Upgrade Your Entrance!

The entryway to any home has a huge impact on how welcoming your home is. Upgrading the front door is a great way to increase your curb appeal and UP your welcome quotient. Recently Ken and Ellen, friends from Solivita, felt the living room of their home was too dark. They considered repainting it and adding a sky window, but after evaluating the cost and the mess, they decided to upgrade their front door. A visit to Lowes revealed that a front door upgrade is an easy fix. They selected their glass panel insert at the Lowes Store and made an appointment for a Lowes Rep to visit their home to take measurements. In no time, the door was measured, the glass was ordered, and light was about to stream into their living room. This fix was quick, less expensive than a new door, and highly successful. The door looks great, and Ken and Ellen now have a living room filled with natural light and The Lowes Installation Team did not even have to remove the door from the hinges to install the glass panel. Thank you to Ken and Ellen for this quick and easy home improvement tip.