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Ellen and Ken’s Perfect Summer Salad *****

Good friends served this salad during dinner at their home a few months ago; and since that evening, Lee and I have been making and enjoying this salad. Refreshing and delicious!

6 cups Watermelon Cubed

½ cup good quality feta cubed or crumbled

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint

3 cups arugula

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Toss, Serve, and Enjoy

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Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019

The last year has gone by very quickly, it is hard to believe it has been 12 months since Magical Dining Month but, here it is again. This year Magical Dining begins on August 23rd and runs to Sept 30, 2019. Each participating restaurant publishes a special 3 course menu at a discounted price. Lee and I always look through the menus and choose two or three restaurants to try during the 5 weeks of Magical Dining. Our goal is to find a few new restaurants to add to our list and during the next year enjoy the new restaurants we discovered.

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Florida Vacations

Since Solivita is a Resort Style Community, surrounded by beautiful ponds, lush conservation, wildlife, golf courses, gyms, pools, restaurants, and a plethora of activities, living in Solivita is life on vacation; but it is still fun to plan and experience a new place, even if only for a few days. Florida offers lots of spots to make a quick escape to. Do you enjoy hiking, the natural environment, beaches, or are you a lover of cites? However, and wherever you like to vacation, Florida offers something for everyone.

If it is a cityscape you are looking for, a trip to Miami may be your ticket. Miami is a great place to spend a few days and now you can hop a train to Miami. Grab a cab to the Poinciana Train Station and in Kissimmee change from the Sun Rail to the Amtrak Train and ride to Miami. A direct train from Kissimmee will land you in Miami after 6 hours of train travel. No driving, no traffic, just an enjoyable day of riding the rails. When you arrive in Miami, a quick cab to your hotel will have you enjoying dinner and a cocktail before sunset. Miami is fun, lots of nightlife, restaurants, and people watching. After a few days in the city you can hop back on the train and return to the beauty and peace of Solivita. If a city escape is not your thing, how about a camping trip to a Florida dark sky park to view the stars.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is surrounded by 54,000 acres of prairie and is located about 25 miles north of Okeechobee, FL. This park is internationally recognized for its lack of light pollution, the night sky above the prairie is inky black and campers can spot the milky way without using telescopes or binoculars. If you wish to star gaze, you will need to make camping reservations. Camping in the Park is not glamorous, and sorry to say but, GLAMPING accommodations are not available here. Camping at the Prairie Preserve State Park is basic, but a beautiful night gazing at stars, planets, and other celestial bodies in incomprehensible numbers, will make for an amazing experience. Jupiter and Saturn are both clearly visible in the night sky, or you may witness the International Space Station making its orbit around the earth. In my book, a beautiful evening dominated by a dark starry sky is an unforgettable experience and worth one night of sleeping in a tent. Of course, if camping is not your idea of a night away, visit the park in the daylight and enjoy the largest remaining tract of Florida dry prairie that exists. Many rare, threatened, and endangered species call this park home and you will have ample opportunity to catch sight of a grasshopper sparrow, crested caracara or a burrowing owl. During the fall and winter, the park offers ranger led prairie buggy tours to the remote areas. You will see spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife on the 2 – 3 hour adventure. Tours are offered from the first weekend in November to the end of March on Weekends. To avoid disappointment, please call ahead to reserve this tour.

After an evening in the woods, it is time to hit a hotel, enjoy a nice hot shower, and lay my bones on a beach. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is not too far from the east or the west coast beaches of Florida, so you have lots of options. There is just so much to do in Florida, I hope I do not run out of retirement and my adventurous spirit before I have ticked off every box on my Florida Bucket List.

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Guardian ad Litem Needs Volunteers in Poinciana and Bella Verde Realty is helping to get the word out.

Florida’s children need you now more than ever, especially in the Poinciana/Kissimmee area. Volunteers make a difference in a child’s life. The GAL Program is currently seeking volunteers to help advocate for the best interests of abused, neglected and abandoned children in the Dependency Court. With a GAL Volunteer, a child is half as likely to languish in the foster care and child welfare system, and more likely to find a safe, permanent home. Bella Verde Realty is on the team and you can be too. Join our team and make a real difference in a child’s life.

Please reach out to Bella Verde Realty and let us know how you can help.

Thank you to all of our friends and clients who purchased and donated back to school clothing for the children in the Guardian ad Litem Program. On August 2nd Nancy from the GAL Office came by and picked up dozens of outfits, shorts, shoes, shirts, socks, and dresses for the children. We even had a new baby well kit and diaper bag for a new GAL mom. The clothing ranged in sizes for children from kindergarten to high school. What a beautiful gift from the BVR Angels. Thank you BVR Angels for your kindness and generosity –  lots of GAL children will be wearing new clothes and shoes to start the school year.

Contact our office to reach out to GAL and become a volunteer for this great community program. Bella Verde Realtors, serving the community with pride and support since 2001! Come join the blessings!

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Home Features That Buyers Love

We rarely recommend homeowners make substantial upgrades to their homes when it is time to sell. After all, you won’t be living in the home much longer, and most home remodeling costs will only increase your home value by 50% to 80% of the cost of the upgrade. If during your life in your home you have made upgrades, improvements, and maintained your home in good condition, you will reap the benefits of these improvements upon the sale of your home. A well-maintained home and a home with added features will spend fewer days on the market, will distinguish itself from other homes (especially in a production built community), and will return a higher sales price. Never forget, the real benefit you will gain from your improvements is that along the way you enjoyed the changes/upgrades you made. NAR Statistics (National Association of Realtors) confirm that making small upgrades over time benefit the seller immensely. The improvements you make do not have to be costly as some of the improvements listed below prove, you can get a good ROI without breaking the bank. The following features are features home buyers look for. Most of the homes in Solivita are constructed with the features below, but If you have an older home, some of these features can be accomplished without a huge expense.

  1. Laundry Room – 91% of buyers surveyed by the National Assoc. of Home Builders’ (NAHB) request this feature.
  2. Energy Efficiency – 89% of buyers surveyed request this feature. Buyers are drawn to properties with Energy Star Appliances.
  3. Lanai – 87% of buyers surveyed request this feature. A screened lanai extends your living space and offers buyers the opportunity to enjoy outdoor living at ease.
  4. Ceiling Fans – 85% of buyers surveyed request this feature. Ceiling fans improve a home’s aesthetic, and a home’s energy efficiency for a small cost.
  5. Garage Storage Space – 85% of buyers surveyed request shelving, peg board storage, and/or cabinetry in their garage. We all seem to have too much stuff these days, and this is an improvement that will return a big bang for a small investment.
  6. Hardwood Flooring – 83% of buyers surveyed look for this feature. Hardwoods can be quite expensive, but today engineered wood flooring is available at a reasonable cost and will update the look of your home instantly, plus bring you a good return on your investment. Most buyers today look for carpet free homes.

When BVR develops your listing, we highlight all the features in your home that are of special interest to buyers. A clear, concise description along with photos will peak a homebuyer’s interest and will bring clients and real estate agents to your door. The more traffic we can generate the quicker your home will move from Listed to Sold. It is not always about the photos, but a combination of the narrative and photos that attract a potential buyer. Cabinetry in your laundry room or garage may be no big deal to you, but according to a recent survey, can be an attractive incentive to a potential buyer.

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Final Phase of Building in Solivita!

Do not miss your opportunity to own a new home in the award-winning premier community of Solivita as we are now in our FINAL PHASE OF BUILDING. The new models are beautiful and make the perfect Forever Home. All BVR Realtors are New Home Certified and a BVR Realtor will help you find and, most importantly, negotiate the purchase of your new dream home before there are no more new homes to purchase in Solivita. As realtors we represent YOU (our client) and YOUR interests. When purchasing a new home without the benefit of representation, your best interests are NOT represented, instead the builder and the seller’s interests are represented. When you are represented by a BVR Realtor, we negotiate, we advise the most cost effective upgrades, we monitor the progress of your new build with the builder, and we assure that you receive the best build for the best price. The bonus to you does not end with the benefit of our knowledge and skills but, our services to you are free of charge as the REALTOR COMMISSION is paid by the builder/seller and not by the buyer. Now that you know the facts, why would you purchase a house without representation? Consider the benefits of using a BVR Realtor, as you receive all these benefits without any commission costs, which is a win-win for YOU. Why buy and build a new home without the benefits, knowledge, and industry experience that a BVR Realtor will provide? Please call one of our Realtors today to discuss this service. We will be happy to work with you and help you achieve your dream build.

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Downtown Lakeland Farmer’s Market

We are early risers, so most Saturdays we find ourselves up at dawn. One Saturday a month we head to the Lakeland Farmer’s Market. Saturday mornings for us are a pleasure as our workday starts a bit later and after a busy week, we look forward to sharing the morning together and reconnecting. Lakeland Farmer’s Market attracts local farmers, bakeries, restaurants, artisans, crafters, cheese makers, Florida honey and jams, beautiful flowers, plants, and entertainment. The farmer’s market takes the month of August off so if you plan to go, please plan your market day in September. The market is open every Saturday (except August) from 8 am to about 2 pm (1 pm in the summer months). We stretch our legs, enjoy the fresh air, do our marketing, and enjoy the sights and sounds around us. A few of our favorite stops are Harmonious Greens, Aqua Organics, Eco Farm, Jay’s Market, Pierogi Hut, Ethos Roasters for Coffee, and Red Roof Farms for honey. We are generally back on the road by 9:00 am to start our typical Saturday workday, but we return to Solivita and to our clients refreshed and ready to work after enjoying an early morning together. If you have a dog, the Lakeland Market is doggy-approved, plus you may even find Fido a few treats. To get to the market, use your GPS with the address of 200 N. Kentucky Ave. We find the best parking for the market is in the Munn Park parking lot. Hope to see you at the fruit stand . . .