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Holiday Baking Memories from our Family to Yours

Years ago, the cookie baking would begin the weekend after Thanksgiving, mom, my sister, and I would each sort through our treasured family recipes and make our cookie list. Together we planned our cookie baking days, we gathered our recipes, shopped for our ingredients, and baked for days. By Christmas Week we would have trays of home baked goodies wrapped in red and green cello ready to hand out to our co-workers, neighbors, and friends. Sweet Memories. My brother-in-law Gregg, our resident “cookie monster” used to choose his favorite cookies and have us place them in a big old brown and beige Charles Chips Tin, a tin just for him. No red and green wrapping, nor any other presents were required for Gregg; his tin of homemade cookies was all he wanted. Fast forward to now, Gregg still loves cookies, but we have all grown up and know that an entire tin of cookies is not good for anyone, so instead of baking trays of cookies, our family chooses one type of cookie each year, we make a few dozen and enjoy them. Now, our tastes have matured and our cholesterol matters, so instead of enjoying cookies we share a bottle of wine or two and after Christmas Dinner we each enjoy a cookie and share happy memories of years gone by. It is really a good thing we enjoyed those cookies when we could. The below recipe is for our Christmas 2021 Family Cookie, we hope you enjoy them.

Old Fashioned Soft Pumpkin Christmas Cookies

2.5 cups All Purpose Flour

1 Tsp Baking Soda

1 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Tsp. Ground Cinnamon

½ Tsp Ground Nutmeg

½ Tsp Salt

1.5 Cups Granulated Sugar

½ Cup Chopped Dried Cranberries (optional)

1 Stick Butter Softened

1 Cup Libby’s 100% Pure Pumpkin

1 Large Egg

2 Tsp Vanilla Extract, divided

2 Cups Powdered Sugar, Sifted

3 Tbsp Milk

1 Tbsp Butter, softened


This is an Easy Recipe, filled with the flavors of the season. We hope you enjoy these cookies and share them with your friends and family.

Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees and grease baking sheets

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cranberries, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar and 1 Stick softened butter in large mixer bowl until blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg, and 1 Tsp vanilla extract until smooth. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15 – 18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 3 minutes, remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Combine sifted powdered sugar, milk, 1 tbsp butter and 1 tsp vanilla extract in small bowl until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cookies.

You should get about 3 Dz Cookies out of this recipe. If you do not love dried cranberries, add chopped walnuts, or add chopped raisins or leave any of these optional additions out.

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BJ’s Wholesale Club Is Coming to Posner Park

Get Ready to Join the BJ’s Club as they have cut a deal to build a 103,004 Square Foot Discount club, plus a liquor store, a gas station, and a tire center at Posner Park. With Poinciana Parkway right outside our gates it is an easy ride to Posner Park. When I lived in NJ I always loved shopping at BJ’s Discount Club in Rutherford, NJ and now I look forward to zipping up the parkway and shopping in the new BJ’s.

Central Florida is turning into a hot spot for development and jobs. Weekly, Large Real Estate Deals are being inked in Central Florida. The Real Estate News is filled with articles on Mid to Large Corporations building new facilities, enlarging their current spaces and workforce, and relocating employees and jobs to Central Florida. Bella Verde Realty already has a long list of clients and families looking to live in our surrounding communities near good jobs and close to their retired relatives. Kissimmee/Poinciana is turning into a truly Multi-Gen Community filled with young professionals, families, and retirees and we welcome each of our new neighbors to the sunshine of Central Florida. This building boom is great for our property values and continues to fuel the real estate and job market in Central Florida. This explosive growth goes to prove we are just not growing oranges, but instead growing wealth and offering good living and working conditions to all who relocate to our area. Bella Verde Realty looks forward to welcoming all newcomers to our area. Give us a call with any questions you may have about Solivita and the new Multi-Gen Communities being built all around us.

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Chart House, Melbourne, FL

Sunday Mornings Lee and I are usually up early and out and about all day showing homes, catching up on paperwork, meeting clients and preparing our schedules for the following week. Last week we had a client, who is in contract to purchase a home in Solivita, ask us to come out to meet them at their home in Melbourne. Lee and I took advantage and decided to enjoy a “date” before our client meeting at 1 PM. Sunday morning at 9:30 am we hit the road and by 11:00 am we were at the Chart House seated at a lovely riverfront table enjoying brunch. The view of the Indian River Lagoon from the Chart House Dining Room is stunning. We made reservations and were lucky to be one of the first guests on Sunday Morning. We scored a table in the corner surrounded by windows and the beauty of the area. What a View, while dining we witnessed a manatee feeding near the shore, dolphins playing in the water, fish jumping and pelicans swimming and diving for food. In addition, brunch was delicious, $0.99 Mimosas, corncakes with an apple compote, and eggs benedict. The round trip drive out was easy, about an hour and 15 minutes each way and virtually traffic free. We enjoy brunch every now and then, and most of the time when we go to brunch we head to downtown Orlando, but with this easy drive and delicious destination, I have a feeling our next Brunch Date will be in Melbourne at the Chart House.

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Road Trip Two Days in Jacksonville

Recently our Office Manager took a few days away to visit Jacksonville. In the past they have only gone to Jacksonville to attend a seminar, or to visit a doctor, but this time decided to stop and enjoy a few days away, just for the fun of it. They spent an afternoon at the Zoo, followed the next day by a trip out to Cumberland Island to see the wild horses. The weather in Florida is refreshing now, and in our opinion, the perfect time for a short get away. Together they spent an afternoon at the Zoo and Gardens they report that the zoo “was delightful.” The Jacksonville Zoo although quite nice, is much smaller than the Bronx Zoo, a zoo in their old neighborhood. The Jacksonville Zoo is staffed with knowledgeable keepers with lots of well cared for, healthy animals in residence. They purchased an all-inclusive ticket, that provided them with the ability to hand feed the giraffes and the Lorikeets. At first, Linda admits, they were a bit reluctant, but the keepers were on hand to guide guests, and they walked away from the experience feeling lucky to have had an opportunity to be so close to these beautiful creatures.

Jacksonville has some good restaurants, a nice riverfront, and great shopping at the St. John’s Town Center. Truth be told, they liked the zoo, but they also liked the shipping at the Town Center, Linda admitted she was conflicted as to her favorite destination, she enjoyed both but did say the shopping was fabulous. The following day they drove up to Amelia Island and picked up a boat headed for Cumberland Island. You know the island; it is where JFK Jr. and Carolyn Bessette were married. Cumberland Island stretches eighteen miles north and south and ranges from three fourths to two and a half miles wide. Expansive salt marshes and tidal estuaries are protected on the island’s west side, and from the Atlantic Ocean to the east. The island is a quiet, remote island and a great place to spend the day hiking, picnicking, enjoying the wildlife and viewing the wild horses. Cumberland Island does have an Inn, the Greyfield, and it looks to be a fabulous, private place to enjoy a few days away from it all. Maybe someday in the far, far, future when Lee and I have retired and our cell phones are no longer attached to us, we will spend a few nights enjoying this spot, but for now, I am providing you with the info for Greyfield Hotel. If you do get to visit the Greyfield, please send me your thoughts on this remote but exceptional place. It looks like an awesome get away for a few days.

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Last Call for the GAL Gift Donation

Contributing to our Holiday Happiness. Last Call for the GAL Gift Donation

Thank You to Everyone Who has already Contributed to our GAL Drive. We appreciate each gift and know the kids will too. The kindness and generosity of our Solivita Community is Amazing. This is our Final Push for Contributions to this year’s Gift Drive. The Staff of GAL Osceola is coming to collect the gifts, gift cards and donations gathered early on Friday, December 10th and we are collecting until the last minute. Every Gift gathered counts twice, You give One, and Bella Verde matches the gift so the GAL Kids get Two. All gifts are appreciated for ages 0-18. At 18 the kids cycle out of the program to start their life without the assistance of their foster families.

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Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays to all our Readers, Friends, Family, Clients and Neighbors. It has been another busy year for the Bella Verde Family of Realtors. I just ran our statistics and see that for the past four years Bella Verde Realty has been the Realtor with the Most Transactions in Solivita. Our Agency is blessed with a great group of realtors, a lovely, modern community of homes surrounded by natural beauty, a great climate, and a friendly place to live and work. Thank you to every client for trusting Bella Verde Realty with one of the most important financial and lifestyle transactions you may make in your lifetime. This year Lee and I purchased a golf cart and began showing folks around the community in our new wheels. I still love driving around in my car, but I do admit that it is a fun option to tour the community in a golf cart too. If you are looking to move to a new address in Solivita call me and together we will go for a golf cart ride.

We are looking forward to holidays filled with fun, fellowship, peace, and kindness and send wishes to you each for good health, joy and a 2022 filled with love and laughter. We are looking forward to every celebration and are ending 2021 with a different kind of New Year’s Eve Celebration. A group of us have planned a New Year’s Eve Progressive Dinner in Solivita. Sounds like fun, and the perfect way to celebrate the start of a New Year. If you see a group of golf carts tooling around Solivita on New Year’s Eve, it will most likely be us as we eat, share a glass or two of champagne, and spend a fun night laughing, enjoying the twinkling holiday lights of Solivita, and sharing the company of loved ones.

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GAL One Plus One Gift Drive

It is that time of the year again. Bella Verde Realty is the Proud Sponsor of a Gift Giving Drive for Osceola’s Foster Children. We are Proud to say that this is the 5th year we have worked to help the Children ranging from ages 0 – 18 enrolled in the GAL Program. We ask all to donate a gift or a gift card to the Guardian ad Litem Program who help over 500 children that have been abused, neglected, or abandoned in Osceola County. For Every Gift Donated to us, the children will get 2 gifts. One from you and One from Us. We thank You for Helping Us give Florida’s GAL Children Happy Holidays.

We invite you to Visit our website to see our past HOLIDAY GAL Fundraiser Info.  Go to the About Tab, then News, and scroll down to our blog archives, dive into every December for the past 4 years, and see our GAL Gift Giving Success Stories.

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Our Newest Member of the Bella Verde Team

We are happy to welcome Debbie Di Cintio to the Bella Verde Family of Realtors. Debbie and her husband Paul have been Solivita Residents for over 18 years. Since moving to Solivita, Debbie has worked in Solivita New Home Sales and enjoys working with clients while living in an active lifestyle community with amazing amenities, clubs, and friendly residents surrounded by the beauty of Central Florida. Debbie has the experience, is a people person, loves working with each client and strives to provide a pleasant experience to everyone lucky enough to work with her. Call Debbie today at: 407-791-5276.

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Spending the Holiday in Solivita, No Worries, We Have Lots Going On

Living in Solivita you will find there is always something to do. Take a class, visit the library, visit one of the gyms, join a club, take a swim, play tennis, pickleball, horseshoes, attend an event, or just hang out downtown with friends. Life is busy in this Active, Beautiful, Over 55 Community. This time of the year, the activities and fun really heat up. The Holiday Activities start with the Fall Festival and move to the Holiday Cooking Demos, Holiday Events, Club Activities, parties and shows, all planned within our community, but the brightest night of the year is New Year’s Eve when Solivita throws a fun, big New Year’s Eve Bash in Downtown Solivita. If you are here for New Year’s Eve Come for the music, the dancing, partying with friends and neighbors, and finish the evening with fireworks. A Great Way to end the year and a Wonderful Way to Welcome 2022. The beauty of partying in Solivita is you can drive your golf cart downtown and be safe within the gates of Solivita. You still need to be careful while tooling around in your golf cart, but do not need to worry about New Year’s Eve drunk drivers on the road. Like the sign says, “We have thought of everything” and Solivita has. Looking forward to seeing you all downtown as we usher in another New Year in Solivita.

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Kick Off to the Holiday Season with a “Walk in the Park”

Leu Gardens, 1920 North Forest Avenue, Orlando, FL

The Beautiful Leu Gardens is lighting up for the Holidays. Leu Gardens is on the National Register of historical places. The house and garden history dates back to 1885 when the first owner, Thomas Mizell. Thomas Mizell built a farmhouse on the land, two more owners improved the gardens and home and in 1936 Harry P. Leu purchased the property for $40,000.00, a huge sum “back in the day”. Together he and his wife Mary Jane remodeled the home and indulged their passion for gardening. They traveled the world seeking out specimens and together they managed to grow plants in Florida that had never been grown in our climate before. The Leu’s were so proud of their work that they opened the gardens to the public. In 1960 Harry and Mary Jane Leu were ready to donate their home and gardens to the city of Orlando, but they had a plan for their beloved land. They insisted that the entire estate was to be a non-profit and that the city could not sell or dispose of any of the estate, thus the beautiful grounds are here for all of us to enjoy today.

The Holiday Magic at Leu Gardens begins on November 19th and runs through the holidays to January 9th. Enjoy the magical dancing lights as you embark on the ¾ mile journey through the awe-inspiring light experience. Immerse yourself in the wonder of the holidays, enjoy the 185 hanging Moroccan Lanterns, and the light and shadows that they cast into the gardens, experience the rose garden as it comes to life with beautiful balls of light. The light display is interactive, interesting, and lovely. Travel through the forest and enjoy the tunnel of light with your friends and loved ones. Enjoy a fun, safe night spent out of doors and embrace the beauty of the season. This display requires advance tickets, please visit Leu Gardens to buy tickets at