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Crabby Bills in St. Cloud, a local hangout.

A great stop for a casual, fun dinner on the dock or under the shade of the porch roof. Crabby Bills is located on East Lake Toho in the Lakefront Park Marina and features panoramic views of the marina and lake from both indoor and outdoor dining areas.  Enjoy Happy Hour all day, listen to local live music on the weekends, and splurge for some fruity liquor infused drinks, but most of all have some fun. If you plan to dine outside, bring your shades and a hat as the sun on the deck can be intense.  The atmosphere is relaxed, the service is friendly and the food is good. Crabby Bills is a local favorite and an easy drive from Solivita. 

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Take a Ride on the Chain of Lakes in Winter Haven

Recently we broke the Chain of Lakes with the Living Water Boat Cruises.  It was fun, interesting, and a great couple of hours out on the water.  We travelled through a few of the lakes in the chain, saw alligators, turtles, eagles, herons, anhinga, Ibis, and even a few pelicans.  We docked in the water near Lego Land and watched the waterski show from the boat.  Our Captain was fun and very interesting. After the show he took us on a waterside tour of “Old Cypress Gardens”.  When I was young my mom and dad took us to Cypress Gardens to enjoy the quiet beauty of the gardens, see the Southern Belles, and best of all enjoy an ice cream while sitting on the shores watching the water ski show. This tour brought back some sweet family memories.  Living Water Boat Cruises took us past the historic Florida Shaped Swimming Pool where Esther Williams swam, and pointed out the film sets where TV Specials, Gilligan’s Island, Movie Stars, and movies were filmed back in the day. After taking this boat ride we watched Easy To Love, an Esther Williams Move from 1953.  Lee and I Enjoyed the spectacular scenes filmed at Cypress Gardens with over 30 water skiers towed in an arrowhead formation. Amazing and Dangerous, but beautiful to watch.  The lake was cool and calm with a light chop the day we were out, but after experiencing the lake, I am certain filming this scene could not have been an easy feat.   Today this spot is Lego Land, and a popular destination with the kids.  A great place to take the grandkids and enjoy a day of fun.  If you take the boat tour, you may want to visit YouTube first to view some of the footage filmed at Cypress Gardens in its heyday, after all Cypress Gardens is Florida’s first tourist attraction.

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The Blob is Almost Here!

The Sargassum Blob, a 5,000 mile long mat of seaweed will be washing ashore this summer.  The Blob, is actually a Bloom, with an estimated weight of 6-10 million tons.  Like all seaweed, sargassum supports an amazing amount of life, from baby sea turtles to shrimp, crabs, fish and even some birds. This stinky pile of seaweed is double in size of what scientists deem as “normal” and is even worse than Science Fiction Writers could have ever imagined.  Most of the beach communities already have plans in place to mitigate the stench, as decomposing sargassum emits ammonia and hydrogen sulfide, creating air that is far from salt water fresh.    

Already Key West is starting to see sargassum on the beaches.  The coastal areas of Florida expect to see and smell this blob/bloom over the next few months.  This bloom, an already huge pile of stinking seaweed, is likely to increase in size as it is fed by high levels of nitrogen from fertilizers and wastewater that run from our rivers into the oceans.  What to do?   Well, this is just a suggestion, but don’t head to the beaches for vacation, instead come to Central Florida and enjoy all the sights, sounds and fun we have to offer. Enjoy the activities in our amusement parks, play golf or tennis, swim in our seaweed free pools, see a show in our many professional theatres or any of our local theatres, enjoy BOK Tower, visit our museums, take in an Art Show, take a boat ride or go fishing on our beautiful lakes, visit Kissimmee for a great slice of pizza and delicious wine at the wine bar, Visit International Drive, I Drive for the locals, and have some fun.   The possibilities are endless for a great vacation in a beautiful spot.  While in town, don’t forget to visit Solivita for a look at life in Central Florida.  Solivita is a 55 Plus Community.  Directly across the street from Solivita our builders have just begun building a Multi-Gen Complex of homes and condos that when complete will have parks and a school.  No homes or condos are up yet, but keep your eye out, they will be up and ready to view by 2024.  A new home in a new location is the perfect place for a family, especially if mom and dad are Solivita Residents.  Now you can enjoy life in paradise with your family right around the corner.  Easy to live in Florida, low taxes, good schools, great jobs, and best of all for me – NO SNOW.   

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Heading to Tampa for an Evening of Fun.

This month we are arranging a Solivita car service for 12 to drive us to Ybor City for dinner and a flamenco show at Columbia Restaurant.  Locally we have a Columbia Restaurant, and we have enjoyed quite a few meals there, but Ybor City is the home of the Original Columbia Restaurant and makes for a great evening out.   We enjoy almost all of the items on the Columbia Menu but Lee and I always start with the 1905 Salad.  Why is the salad called 1905 , well that is when the original Columbia Restaurant was opened on the corner of 22nd St and 7th Avenue in Ybor City.  Columbia in Ybor City now seats 1,700 guests in 15 dining rooms and spans an entire Tampa city block.  It is the oldest restaurant in Florida and the largest Spanish Restaurant in the world.  Since opening, Columbia Restaurant has opened many locations throughout Florida, but in my opinion, the Ybor City Location has a special charm. With a car service we can drink, party, and enjoy the evening without the worry of driving back late.  We may live in a 55 Plus Community and may have forgotten a few things, but we never forgot how to party!

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The Economy

The Interest Rates, The Banks, The Job Market, The Housing Market, What to do and Where to Live in retirement.  Lots of these concerns are age old worries, some like the bank worry and the interest rate concern, are old worries that have recently re-emerged.  However, you view the state of our economy, with lots of luck, eventually we will all retire and seek a new place to call home.  If you decide Life in Solivita is for you I can alleviate some of your fears.  Since the bubble burst in 2008, Our homes have elevated in prices and our local economy is stable.  If you choose to work part time or full time, there are lots of jobs around.  If you choose to retire, Solivita has lots of activities, keep busy or not, it is your choice.  Recently we heard this comment from friends, “Living in Solivita is like Living on a Docked Cruise ship”, a good comparison. Solivita is an Award-Winning Community and as pretty and as active today as it was 20 years ago when the first homes were being built.   New Construction is outside our gates, shopping centers and restaurants are popping up close to our neighborhood and life remains good here.  Within our gates peace and contentment reign.  We grew up in NY and NJ and both of us feel blessed to have found a lovely haven to call home.  Not a bad way to live.  Come on down and see for yourself.  After all, you gotta live somewhere, you might as well choose to live somewhere good.

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Orange-Campari Granita with Fresh Nectarines

  • 3 Cups Strained Fresh Orange Juice
  • ½ Cup Campari
  • ½ Cup Sugar PLUS 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Nectarines, halved, pitted and cut into 1/3 inch thick wedges.
  • Fresh Mint Sprigs

Stir OJ, Campari and ½ cup sugar in medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Transfer to a 13 x 9 x 2” glass baking dish.  Freeze until frozen, at least 6 hours or overnight.

Place 6 Martini Glasses in the freezer. Mix nectarines and remaining 2 Tbsp. sugar in a large bowl. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, after that you can cover and refrigerate the nectarines for use when you serve the granita.

Using a fork, scrape surface of granita to form crystals.  Divide granita among frozen glasses.  Top with nectarine mixture. Garnish with mint and serve immediately. 

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Life In Solivita

Solivita is a beautiful place to live.  Lee and I have lived in Solivita for over 20 years, and we still feel lucky and joyful to live in the Paradise that is Solivita.  We are “pioneers” as we built our first home when Solivita was in the planning stages.  We invite and welcome you all to come visit and see for yourself how lovely our community is.  In addition to our beautiful blue lakes, ponds, conservation, and natural beauty there is always fun to be had in Solivita.  In Solivita you can enjoy entertainment, swim, fish, play tennis, play pickleball, work out, play golf, garden in the community garden, play softball, picnic in the park, play bocce ball, or horseshoes, and shoot hoops.  We are a golf cart community, safe, guarded and gated, near shopping, houses of worship and restaurants.  Solivita downtown has everything you could want, a hometown pharmacy/convenience store, a pro shop, restaurants, and activities.  Join any of over 200 clubs, meet friends and share in the fun of life in a peaceful community.  

Lots of days we find No Need to Leave the Neighborhood.  Just this month, Lee and I saw two shows in Solivita, enjoyed dinner in Mosaics, attended the St. Patrick’s Day Party, and shared an afternoon lecture in the Gator Room.  After our weekly game of golf, we enjoy drinks and snacks or lunch at  Stonegate Grille.  Last night, I was too tired to cook, solution, we called the Bistro in Solivita and picked up Pizza and a salad to go.  All of these activities are within our gates and only a golf cart ride away from our home.  Fun, Easy and Enjoyable.  We can hop on our golf carts, enjoy the ride, and have a great afternoon or evening without the stress of traffic, the worry of parking, and the expense of gas.  Solivita provides an “Award Winning” way to live an easy, good life in the company of wonderful friends and neighbors.