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Spring is Time to Pick Fruit in Florida

Ridge Island Groves, 6000 Polk City Road, Haines City 

A short ride and a fun stop to take the grand kids.  Local and family run.  You can pick oranges, peaches, or blueberries when you visit the farm.  Check to see what is in season before you go.  The best time to pick oranges is between December and May, when they are most plentiful, although the season runs from October to June.

Looking to pick blueberries, visit the farm in Mid-April through May.  Looking to pick peaches, visit the farm Mid-April to June.   Don’t want to pick, ask for a farm tour or just visit the farmstand and enjoy fresh-squeezed OJ, jams, jellies, or delicious homemade ice cream.

On your way home, stop by Webb’s Candy Shop, it is Old Florida at its best, with homemade candy, fudge, ice cream and lots of friendly folks who have been making candy for over 85 years.  

Don’t want to pick fruit, Celebrate the Season’s Bounty with the Farmer’s Harvest Dinner hosted by Southern Hills Farms at 16651 Schofield Rd., Clermont, FL 34714 phone:  407-986-5806.

This is an adult-exclusive, memorable night on the farm with live music, a curated dinner and dessert menu made with fresh, locally grown ingredients prepared by chefs.  Enjoy wine pairing suggestions, craft beer and/or the signature cocktail for the evening.  Enjoy fresh air, live music, delicious food, gather around the firepits or play a friendly game.  This event will make for a most memorable evening.  March 24th and April 28th. Country Casual Dining and Dancing on the Farm.   Visit the farm virtually to get the info at :

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Get Your Tickets Now for the March 24th Concert Under the Stars at BOK Tower on the Oval Lawn.

Steep Canyon Rangers are playing.  You may not recognize the name, but I am sure you have heard them play.  They are Asheville North Carolina’s Grammy Award Winning Band who perennial Top the Billboard Chart and frequently collaborate with my favorite comedian Steve Martin.

Bring your blanket, or a chair, order dinner in advance at the Blue Palmetto Café and don’t forget to pack a bottle of wine.  Enjoy the show and a picnic under the stars.

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Orange Nut Bread

This recipe is easy, delicious, and the resulting bread Freezes Well.  After baking and cooling, I slice the loaf up and wrap individual slices in cello and freeze them.  Lee loves this for breakfast or a snack.  I have made this with nuts and for dried fruit, this loaf is good both ways. 

  • 1 ¾ cups All Purpose Flour
  • 2 ½ Tsp. Baking Powder
  • 3/4 Tsp. Salt
  • ½ Cup Frozen Orange Juice Concentrate, thawed
  • ¼ Cup Water
  • 1 ¼ Cups sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. Unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • ½ cup Chopped Toasted Almonds or ½ cup dried fruit
  • 1 ½ Tsp grated orange zest

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees and lightly butter a 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 loaf pan, dust with flour.   Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a small bowl. Combine Orange Concentrate and water in another small bowl.  In a large bowl beat sugar and butter with a mixer for one minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in flour and orange concentrate mixture in 3 additions. Do not overbeat.  Add orange zest and almonds.  Bake bread until tester inserted in center comes out clean. About 55 minutes. Cool bread in pan on rack for about 5 minutes and turn out completely.  Eat and enjoy.   

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Trippin with the Bella Verde Team to Savannah, GA

Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia and is only a 5 hour drive from Solivita, but a world apart. Worth the visit, the Downtown Historic district has cobblestone streets and walks lined with moss covered trees, amazing wrought iron fences, gates, and stunning red brick homes that feature interior woodwork from the 1800’s. The Squares are amazing, the parks are filled with southern charm, and French style public gardens are abundant. Please don’t visit in the heat of the year, as Savannah can be quite steamy, but if you visit in the early spring or fall you will find Savannah amazing.  In the 1950’s downtown Savannah was crumbling, million dollar townhomes were empty, crime was high and the area had become quite sketchy.  Just In time,  Anna Colquitt Hunter and six generous wives of wealthy, influential men gave birth to the The Historic Savannah Foundation (HSF), and with it the restoration and the preservationist movement in Savannah began. HSF saved 145 buildings between 1955 and 1980, an amazing achievement, but despite these efforts, historic Savannah remained under threat. In 1979 Paula Wallace and her family purchased the Savannah Volunteer Guards Armory and SCAD was born. SCAD is the Savannah College of Art and Design, an amazing university where creative, talented folks learn the art of design. SCAD has restored many of the historic buildings and turned them into studios, dorms, classrooms, museums, motels, residences, and transformed Savannah into a destination rich in beauty and history.  

Do you Love Retro, stay at the Thunderbird Inn, if you do, you will find a can of RC Cola and a Moon Pie in your room upon check in.  If you love staying in an old, restored home, try a room at the 17hundred90 Inn.  Old, quirky but a restful getaway. Please know these are3 not 5 Star Accommodations, but rather charming spots to call home for a few days in the historic district.  Park your car and enjoy walks in the city.  If neither of these are you for you, book a room at the JW Marriott, and enjoy an amazing luxury stay.    

All this talk about touring reminds me that Savannah has lots of great local and world class dining, and when we were last in town we enjoyed both.  Try the Grey for a delicious evening. The Grey restaurant is in a 1938 art deco Greyhound Bus Terminal that has been fully restored to its original luster.  Enjoy Dinner or Sunday Brunch, or a drink and some oysters at the bar.  This is a fun restaurant with lots of charm and good taste. Or try the Public Kitchen and Bar in Savannah, it is fun, fresh and serves local produce.  While wandering around the historic area we enjoyed a great lunch, cocktails, the best Caesar Salad ever at Public. We stayed near Frali Gourmet and enjoyed a welcome to the city plate of homemade pasta and a delicious Arugula salad.  Frali is a casual but tasty stop, great for sandwiches, fresh pasta and has a market to purchase specialty items to bring the taste of Savannah home.  Savannah is a great get away and one you should put on your bucket list.

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Is It Time to Buy or Sell?

Well for the first time in many, many months we have a good quantity of homes in Solivita for sale and the inventory of homes for sale in Central Florida is again on the rise. Good News for Home Buyers, mixed news for Home Sellers. More homes on the market equates to more competition which equates to a better value for buyers.  Home Sellers, please do not despair, the value of homes, although not climbing, has not reduced substantially. Total Home Inventory is still quite low and lots of folks are still looking to buy, retire, obtain a second home, etc. so although the market has changed, the bottom has not fallen out.  Good News is Interest Rates seem to be steady, the news on the economy is good, and the hope is the market will again continue to strengthen.

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Return to our Monthly Newsletter

It has been a few months since my office wrote our monthly newsletter and we want to apologize for this delay and explain what happened. Our dear sweet mom, Angela, had a slight stroke on Election Day and has kept us hopping, leaving this letter writer with little extra time to jot down notes. The Very Good News, Angela is on the mend and “feeling like her old self again”.  She has had great care from our local doctors, is getting wonderful PT from therapists in Solivita who visit her home 3 times a week; and has had the help of a wonderful CNA in her home for the last few months. Combined with the love of family and friends and great medical assistance Angela is starting to walk around the neighborhood and going out with family and friends.  So now that mom is surely on the mend, I am finding a bit more time to resume writing the newsletter and filling you all in on what’s happening.