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Florida Travel

Good Solivita friends of ours rented a house in Matlacha (MAT-la-shay) for a week, right on the water, with a pool and a dock for fishing and crabbing. Sounds like a peaceful, quiet spot on the Florida Coast. Where is this spot you ask? Matlacha is a tiny town west of Fort Myers and it is tethered to the mainland by the “fishingest bridge in the U.S.A.” over Matlacha Pass – according to the tourist info. Now I am very interested, this sounds like an ideal habitat for fish and anglers, but also for kayakers, hikers, and seekers of peace and quiet. A Perfect Spot for a few days.

After all, there are only so many days I can stay away from the action. Lee could probably stay a few days longer, as long, as he had his golf clubs, but me, I love the action of selling Solivita and helping folks find their perfect place in the sun. They report they relaxed, enjoyed each other’s company, ate fresh caught crabs and fish, plus nightly witnessed Spectacular Sunsets. If you are a birder, this is a great place for you too, as daily our friends enjoyed osprey, egrets and the dolphins play in the water. Now where to stay, well I can’t tell you their secret hide out, as they wouldn’t tell me, but I have tiptoed through the literature on the area. From my research, I know Lee and I would love the Tarpon Lodge on Pine Island, about 8 miles from Matlacha. It looks like a great place to visit for a few days. The Lodge is on the water, has a full-service restaurant, and a very nice menu. You see, I am not into fishing but, I am into relaxing in a pretty place with a lounge chair and a good fish restaurant on site. The Lodge does have some history, rumor has it that Jimmy Buffet wrote Cheeseburger in Paradise while hanging out at the Tarpon Lodge. We have not stayed here yet, but we surely will next time we have a few days away. Another destination to add to my Florida Bucket List.

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Winter Park Autumn Art Festival October 12 & 13, 2019

The Winter Park Autumn Art Festival is always a great weekend and worth a visit. Now that you can take the train to downtown Winter Park, the day will not only be fun, but the commute easy from Solivita. Remember to bring a backpack or a bag to easily transport your purchases.

The Winter Park Autumn Art Festival features musical entertainment, food, and children’s activities along with artworks by over a hundred artists. It is the only juried fine art festival that exclusively features Florida artists. All this combines for a great weekend of family fun and entertainment. A children’s hands-on art workshop is held on both days. The two-day festival is held annually in the Beautiful Central Park in Downtown Winter Park located along Park Avenue. Admission to the Festival is free. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce is proud to host the festival on the second weekend in October each year. The 46th Annual Winter Park Art Festival is held on Saturday, Oct 12th and Sunday, Oct 13th from 9:00 AM to 5 PM on both days.

From Solivita we can now take the train to Winter Park so you can truly enjoy a relaxing art filled day and avoid the traffic.

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The One Plus One Giving Program

Bella Verde is proud to sponsor The One Plus One Giving Program for the Guardian Ad Litem and Foster Children of Osceola County

The Guardian ad Litem Program advocates for the best interests for all children in the program. Children become involved in this program when they are removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The GAL Program becomes familiar with each child’s individual case and helps to ensure a safe, caring and permanent environment. The GAL Team consists of professional program staff, attorneys, and dedicated volunteers.

Bella Verde Realty is proud to again sponsor the One Plus One Giving Program. Bella Verde Realty’s commitment to these children is simply to give the GAL children the best holiday possible. You give one gift, and BVR will match your kind gift and double it, giving the children two more gifts!

All donations are kindly accepted and most appreciated. Please bring your unwrapped gifts to the Bella Verde office from 10/15/2019 to 12/3/2019

Let’s make it a happy holiday season, and please give generously. Santa’s Sleigh (the BVR Team) delivers the gifts to the Offices of Guardian ad Litem and the Elves (AKA Social Workers and Volunteers) sort and deliver the presents to the children for the for the holidays.

Currently over 500 children are enrolled in the Voices for Osceola’s Children Program and gifts at this time of the year are especially appreciated.

“We can all work to pave a positive path to a child’s future of hope and emotional security. Making a positive difference in the life of a child is one definition of legacy,” says Alan Abramowitz, Executive Director, Florida Guardian ad Litem Program.

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Mediterranean Cuisine Is Fresh, Popular and Healthy

Recently we had dinner at Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine in Winter Park. Lee and I both enjoy the fresh, light, herbal flavor of this cuisine and when we lived up north this cuisine was a local, good stop for us. Living in Solivita we do have to travel a bit, but Bosphorous is worth the trip. Lee and I especially love the cold spreads. Many evenings we make an entire meal from them; baba ganoush (smoked eggplant), tabbouleh, hummus, stuffed grape leaves and olives. All served cold with the delicious lavas bread that helped to make Bosphorous famous. The lavas bread comes to the table hot, fresh and ready to receive the delicious vegetarian spreads mentioned above. On the rare evening when we order an entrée, Bosphorous has you covered with delicious lamb and chicken dishes fired on the grill and accompanied with rice, tomatoes, onions and peppers. The bar is fully stocked, the wine list is good, the restaurant is lovely, and every plate is a delight to your eyes and taste buds. Dining is available outdoor or indoor. A trip to Bosphorous makes a very nice afternoon or early evening dining experience. Bosphorous has a few other locations, every location is good, but the Winter Park location remains our favorite. If you desire a new fresh, flavor please give Bosphorous a try; we know you will not be disappointed. You can visit Bosphorous on the website at

In the spirit of fresh Mediterranean cuisine, you’ll find a recipe for tabbouleh. We have added our own twist to the standard recipe with the addition of cucumbers, as we enjoy the extra crisp bite they lend. This tabbouleh recipe is flexible, as you can add more or you can add less veggies, herbs, lemon juice or olive oil. Add extra of the ingredients you love or less of the ones that may not be your favorites. We hope you enjoy this tasty salad along with some fresh pita bread or romaine lettuce leaves.

Lorraine & Lee’s Favorite Tabbouleh

3 Bunches Flat Leaf Parsley, part of the stems removed, washed, dried and finely chopped

8 Spring Onions or one small red onion finely chopped

5 Firm Roma Tomatoes, chopped (place them in a colander to drain the juice after they have been chopped)

4 lemons, freshly juiced

1 English Cucumber finely chopped

5-6 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

15 Mint leaves, stems removed, washed, dried and finely chopped

1 cup fine bulgur (cracked wheat)

1 cup Hot water to be used for soaking bulgur wheat only

Salt to Taste

Wash the bulgur and soak in 1 cup of Hot Water for approx. 8 minutes. Drain well, squeeze the wheat by hand to remove excess water. Set bulgur aside. Chop the Vegetables, herbs and onions. Place the veggies, onions, herbs, and bulgur in a mixing bowl and season with salt. Gently mix. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and mix again. Cover the tabbouleh and refrigerate for at least an hour. Tabbouleh is a salad that tastes even better the next day so make it one day ahead and enjoy it.

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Good News with Florida Real Estate

Currently the entire state of Florida is seeing noteworthy appreciation in real estate values for multiple reasons. Our population is booming; in fact, 1,000 new residents arrive each day in our area contributing to home demand. Florida is one of the fastest growing states in the U. S. with the large number of snowbirds and retirees and Florida has the highest percentage of senior citizens in the nation helping to drive retirement home demand. Our appealing subtropical climate has helped to create strong housing demand in the vacation home real estate markets too. Solivita is currently in the final phase of building, helping to raise home values in our community. The good news continues, as it is not only retirees flocking to Florida, but folks of all ages and education levels. The jobs are here, Florida’s gross domestic product is growing rapidly and has now eclipsed the national GDP growth rate. Our leading industries include tourism, agriculture, construction, aerospace and international trade. Florida is the place to live, work, raise your family, plus enjoy your retirement. This state has it all: jobs, great sunny weather, beautiful beaches, wildlife, lakes, ponds and multiple investment opportunities. If you are considering purchasing a home, condo or townhouse in Florida, now is a prime time to buy. A Bella Verde Realtor will help get you into the Florida real estate market at an affordable housing cost. Just call any of our realtors and let us know your desires; square footage, location, number of bedrooms, view, desired spend, etc. and we will show you new and resale homes. You do not even have to be here to see our offerings, you can do virtual walk throughs of every property via the computer. When you see a home, you would like to personally visit, we will set up an appointment and happily show you around. The benefit to buying now; you will enjoy your investment and the community, plus achieve the side benefit of property appreciation; building future wealth and security for you and your family.

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Fall is Fix Up Time

Although the first section of homes constructed in Solivita are barely 20 years young, it is always fun to update your décor, redesign a room or even redesign your floorplan. Change up your space with a new coat of paint, add a feature wall, or update your flooring. Even small changes will go a long way in refreshing your home and making a positive impact on your life. My cousin Myriam has a powder bath in her home and, although it is only a small space, she felt it was time for a change. Together we have been devouring design books and powder bath ideas and she loves the look of Going Bold. We have decided on a wallpaper with a bold graphic print in black and white. I am excited to see how this look will fit her home. Wallpaper is back in a big way. From her research, wallpaper is one of the trendiest ways to add interest, color and texture to your home. Experimenting with this design idea in a small space is a win-win. If I love the look, I may consider testing it out in our home. If she can’t live with the look, the space is small, and she can close the door and redo the room when time permits. I am excited about testing out our design skills and she is looking forward to a change in design style.

Recently while showing a condo to one of our clients, we entered a master bedroom that had added a feature wall behind their headboard. I have seen feature walls using wallpaper, paint and reclaimed lumber, and have liked them all, but this homeowner had bricked their interior headboard wall. It made a huge design impact in the space. After bricking the wall, the bricks were painted gray and the room was warmed up with the addition of natural wood, chrome and leather. These homeowners were young and had designed their bedroom to be a warm and inviting space. In my design sense a brick wall leans industrial, but the look these two had achieved was contemporary and warm without a hint of industrial. Umm, it may be time to think about using brick in one of our redesigns, maybe the laundry room, or a wall in our office. It is always fun to create a new space, especially one that involves one of my favorite hobbies, shopping. Looks like it is time to get the credit card out and shop for new project ideas!!!