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PIZZA ANYONE?

Lee and I came from NY and NJ and have had Pizza from Rome to Florida with many slices in between. Fact – each time we are up north we cannot leave without taking a trip to Connecticut to visit Frank Pepe’s Pizza or Sally’s in New Haven. Pepe’s for the Clam Pie and Sally’s for the Tomato Pie. We have had a few good slices in Florida, but now we have found some great slices at Pizza Bruno, a delicious out of the way spot in the Hourglass District of Orlando. Casual, Delicious, bubbling hot wood fired pizza, with a tasty crust, a nice craft beer selection on tap, decent wine, and the perfect spot to spend an easy weekend afternoon. The restaurant is comfortable, industrial with concrete floors, high ceilings and long wooden tables but it is the smell of the wood-fired pizzas cooking in the oven that grabs you first. The pizza is done my favorite way, thin crust, well done, with a bit of char and smoke. Pizza Bruno has some interesting and creative flavors, Lee’s personal favorite is the Peach Pie, a bubbly hot pie with fresh peaches, artisan made cheese, Nueske’s bacon and topped with arugula. My favorite is the Ninety Two with fresh mozz, Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, red onions, olives, oregano, chili flakes and pecorino. But I do not think there is a pizza in the oven here you will not enjoy. Of course, Bruno’s cooks up traditional pizzas too, or you can always create your own. Pizzas are not the only items on the menu, but I cannot imagine a reason you would want to order anything else. In fact, Pizza Bruno makes so many pies, that they have two wood fired ovens burning. Interesting menu, great concept, and a nice experience. On our first visit we were greeted like old friends and that welcome has continued to this day. They do have dining outside, but not in the rain, as the patio roof currently has a leak. Insider Tip – If you go on Monday, the Pizza Margherita is on special.   You can visit Pizza Bruno 7 days a week, dinner only Monday to Friday but open from 11 -10 on weekends. Pizza Bruno is at 3990 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. If you have tickets for a show at the Plaza Live Theatre on Bumby Ave., Pizza Bruno is a good spot to enjoy dinner before the show. Drive time is about an hour and ten minutes and the good news is you do not even have to take I4 to get there. Mangia!

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Weekend or a Week in Vero Beach

Time to Take a Trip to the Beach. In Florida we have great beach choices, we have 825 miles of accessible beaches and an extensive coastline. Lee and I always choose an East Coast Beach in the Summer and a Gulf beach in the Winter. August is a great time to plant your umbrella in the sand on the Atlantic Ocean and Vero Beach is a good place to start. Vero Beach is only about 80 miles from Solivita and a fun destination. This beach community is nestled on the Indian River Lagoon along Florida’s Treasure Coast and is a great Old Florida Escape, casual and fun with beautiful natural surroundings, museums, beaches, gardens, and art. 

A week in Vero will fly by, spend a few days at the beach, and sprinkle in visits to various spots Vero Offers. Visit the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is home to more than 300 species of birds, including pelicans, egrets, herons, and ibises. Enjoy kayaking, fishing, and hiking at the refuge and even if you are not a bird watcher you will enjoy being surrounded by the diverse bird population that is attracted to the area. Of course, in the summer months not all birds visit the Refuge, but if you love the Refuge, plan to return in the fall and winter months to enjoy the white pelicans when they make their annual pilgrimage to the Refuge. 

The Vero Beach Museum of Art is internationally recognized as one of the top cultural attractions for its superb art collection. This museum has over 50,000 Feet of Floor space and offers something for everyone, a good respite from the sun. Much of the art on display is contemporary, but the museum does have a good selection of older pieces on display as well. 

Visit the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach, it is a great place to learn about the local ecosystem while soaking in the fresh air available in abundance throughout its 64 acres. This is a great spot for a family outing or a day trip. Explore the center’s miles of trails winding through lush vegetation and enjoy the views of the Indian River Lagoon and/or take a pontoon boat tour. The Environmental Learning Center is on Live Oak Drive in Vero and is open 7 days a week. 

We always love to go to McKee Botanical Gardens, but August is hot, so my suggestion is to wait until the weather cools down. McKee Gardens is a lush, tropical oasis and a hidden gem in the sunshine state. it is a beautiful place to spend a day exploring. McKee Botanical Gardens are beautiful and showcase a wide variety of plant life, as well as a large array of sculptures and fountains. 

Vero has so many diverse activities including The McLarty Treasure Museum, The Hallstrom Farmstead, the Riverside Theatre, the Farmer’s Market in Oceanside, the Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, the Heritage Center & Indian River Citrus Museum, not to mention some great restaurants, delicious seafood, and awesome beach hangouts.  

We like Vero for the activities, the beautiful natural surroundings, and the “get away from it all” feeling a few days on the beach offers.

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Watermelon Granita Recipe

When it is hot the last thing any of us want to do is turn on the oven, but Lee and I have the fix for dessert on a Hot Summer Day, Watermelon Granita. This recipe makes a cool, refreshing dessert and no special equipment required. Only a few ingredients, and a tasty way to beat the summer heat. We have even served this granita in a glass with a shot of rum, tequila or vodka. So, it can be a summer sun quencher for adults or a dessert after dinner for all to share.

  

Recipe:

7 cups cubed watermelon

The Zest of One Lime 

3 medium limes, juiced  (zest the lime before juicing)

1/3 cup sugar. Taste the watermelon, if sweet you can reduce the sugar. 

 

Place the lime juice, zest, watermelon, and sugar in a blender. You may need to do this in a few batches. Blend until pureed.

 

Pour the pureed watermelon juice into a 9 x 13” casserole dish and place in the freezer. Cover with plastic wrap. Freeze for 1 hour, remove the granita from the freezer and use a fork to scrape the granita. Return the dish to the freezer for another hour, do this once every hour until the granita is frozen, approx. 4 hours till done. When done Use a fork to scrape the granita into fine fluffy crumbles. Easy, Delicious, Refreshing. Serve and enjoy.

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Fun Facts about Florida.

Did you know that Florida has the longest coastline in the contiguous US. We have 825 miles of accessible beaches, and the coastline is 1,197 statute miles.

Did you know that Florida has more than 700 freshwater springs.

Did you know that Florida has 7,700 lakes, 11,000 miles of rivers, and 2,276 miles of tidal shoreline.

Did you know that Florida’s largest river, the St. Johns River, is one of only a handful of major rivers that flow from south to north.

Did you know that Florida has produced more than 900 world fishing records, more than any other state or country.

Did you know that wherever you are in Florida, you are never more than 60 miles from the nearest body of salt water. I always say Living in Central Florida puts you Center to all Florida has to offer. 

Well Now that You Know more about Florida, come down and visit, and see for yourself how good life can be in Solivita. 

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Beat the Heat by Visiting one of the below Indoor Venues

MOAS – Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach

A Wonderful Museum for all.  Do you love paintings, sculpture, ceramics, furniture, and other works of art?  If so you have come to the right museum, the Dow Gallery covers several eras of American History from the Pilgrim Century the 18th Century and the American Victorian Period. 

Do you love history?  If so, you have come to the right museum, tour the Root Family Collection which includes the largest Coca-Cola Memorabilia collection in the world.  Lots to experience and enjoy.

Do you love the sky? Visit the Planetarium and explore the galaxy while comfortably seated under a 40’ diameter dome structure with an amazing sound system and digital projector.   Explore all MOAS in one day or enjoy an exhibit, hit the beach, and return another day to visit again.  This museum has lots to offer with a wide range of permanent collections plus there are always several temporary exhibits on display.  

Would you rather search for treasure?

The McLarty Treasure Museum on A1A in Vero Beach may satisfy your craving.  Of course, you can’t take any treasure home with you, but I think you may enjoy a walk-through Florida History.  The museum occupies part of the former site of the Survivors’ and Salvagers’ Camp and exhibits the history of the 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet’s failed mission. This famous fleet, a group of 11 ships, set sale from Havana to bring a massive haul of gold and silver coins to Spain when a hurricane struck off the Florida Coast.    A wonderful and informative movie is shown telling of the fleet’s attempt to return to Spain. In fact, treasure hunters still come to the town’s beaches to search for washed up coins from sunken ships. McLarty’s Treasure Museum is a mile north of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge.

Or Enjoy a Solivita Activity 

You can always Stay within the gates of Solivita and enjoy any of our 14 pools, our hot tubs with the heat turned down in the summer months, a picnic at the park, a game of golf or tennis, a ride on your golf cart, lunch or dinner at the Bistro or Stonegate Grill or an evening at Mosaics.  Sign Up and Enjoy any one of the many activities Solivita Offers.  Attend a concert, a softball game, a tasting demo, a murder mystery dinner, a live performance, or one of the Wine Down Evenings Solivita is sponsoring.  There is always something to do in our own community.  I have been reading the July Reflections and see lots of planned activities for August and September too.  Looks like it is Time to get out and have some fun.   After all, living in Solivita means you don’t have to travel far to have fun and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle and beauty of Central Florida.

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Live Performance Theatres near Solivita

Although we love to play golf, tennis, pickleball, and go to the pool, we all need a change of pace, and it always nice to have a diversion.  Our local theatres have the solution.  It is Easy and fun to Visit and Enjoy local theatre.  Due to Disney and the amusement parks we have allot of talent waiting in the wings, so head to one of the local theatres and see a show.  

Recently the Winter Haven Theatre has undergone quite a few major renovations.  The theatre now has new entrances, a renovated and expanded lobby, new lighting, and newly renovated restrooms.   This Theatre is comfortable and is an easy drive from Solivita.  The Mainstage Theatre has 332 seats and currently mounts five shows.  If you subscribe to the five shows you are guaranteed a seat and five great evenings or weekend afternoons of entertainment at very reasonable prices.  In addition, the Theatre is featuring Three Professional Touring Productions this year.  It is always nice to have “tickets in the bank”, as it gives you an event to look forward to, the joy of a good show, and if you treat yourself to dinner or lunch, you have a great day. Season tickets and Touring Tickets are on sale now, and individual show tickets for the Mainstage go on sale in September.  https://www.theatrewinterhaven.com

Good Live Theatre at Osceola Arts with the new season’s tickets going on sale June  15th.  This season Osceola Play House will mount 8 shows on the Mainstage. With the purchase of one of the season ticket packages, you will experience Central Florida’s acclaimed Broadway style productions at a fraction of the cost.  The season ticket packages for 2022-2023 are available June 15th to October 2nd.  Plus, if you are a season ticket holder you can also add tickets for two Special Engagement Productions at a reduced rate.   https://www.osceolaarts.org

Do you enjoy Good Fun and Entertainment and have a hankering for an historic theater setting?  If so, visit the Historic Ritz Theatre in Winter Haven.  The Ritz has been downtown Winter Haven’s Stage since 1925 when it opened as a venue for silent movies and vaudeville. In years gone by the Ritz played “A” Movies with casts including Betty Grable, Errol Flynn and Shirley Temple.   Today the Ritz is back in business with Multi-Level Seating that can accommodate over 450 guests.  Tables and Chairs are set on each level of the theatre for very comfortable seating.  The sound and lighting systems are wonderful, and the live performances and stage shows are fun.    Visit the Ritz at :    https://ritzwinterhaven.com

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Mango, Corn, and Black Bean Salsa

This is the perfect easy summer recipe, no cooking involved, yet you can serve this with chicken or pork, or serve in a taco, on a salad, or a fajita.  We enjoy this salsa on a slice of cucumber or a taco chip. Sour Cream on the side is a tasty accompaniment. 

3 Large Mangoes, diced

16 Oz of Frozen Corn defrosted and drained.

16 Oz Can of Black Beans, rinsed and drained

2 Limes Juiced, if you feel the salsa needs more juice add the juice from an additional lime

¼ Cup chopped fresh cilantro or if you do not like cilantro sub in parsley

½ Red Onion Finely Chopped

Toss all the items except Cilantro in a bowl and combine.  Add the Cilantro, serve and enjoy.

 

This Salsa is also good on chicken or fish and since we are all grill enthusiasts, this is a great accompaniment to whatever you are cooking up on your grill.

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Pizza in Florida

When living in NY and NJ we could get great pizza with lots of flavor, sometimes we would order a thin crust, well done pie and sometimes we would order a Wood Fired Pizza with lots of crispy, burnt edges.  Living in Florida we almost forget the taste of a good pie, but recently we found a delicious pizza at a neighborhood place, unfortunately just not in our neighborhood.  We had pizza at Dimitri’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill in Sebring , Florida.  We were working with clients in Sebring who recommended we give this local “joint” a try.  We were glad we did.  The pizza was delicious and reminiscent of NY Pizza.  It was well done, served hot and bubbly and really hit “our pizza spot”.  In addition to Pizza, the 5’O’Clock Somewhere Bar has a full bar including Cold Beer on Tap, and how could you not love a beer with your pizza.  Casual, Comfortable and VERY LOCAL but Worth the trip in our book.

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Real Estate News

Our housing market is highly competitive and has been for quite some time.  There are more folks looking to buy a home than folks looking to sell.  Housing prices, like all commodities, are based on Supply and Demand.  Many of our buyers have found themselves in situations with multiple offers, quick closing dates, and homes selling at unbelievable prices, making home buyers wonder if this is the right time to jump into the market.  If you purchase a home you love and plan to stay in the home for at least five years, you cannot go wrong.  Although interest rates are climbing, in five years interest rates are predicted to be even higher, therefore a home purchased now may be a bit overpriced, but your mortgage interest is still quite low, putting two x’s in the win column.  One X for the home you love, and one for the still favorable mortgage interest.  Historically home values rise, in this market it is possible for a year or two you may be underwater, but if you stay for a few years and enjoy your home you cannot lose.  Remember, in Real Estate the Mantra is Location, Location, Location and Solivita is an Award Winning Community in Central Florida, the perfect location and the Perfect Community.  You can always redo your kitchen, or change the paint color, but you cannot change your location and if you buy in Solivita your location is as good as “money in the bank”.

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Road Trippin

Time to Plan an End of the Summer Trip.  Awhile back, Lee and I enjoyed a trip to the “Sippin Safari “ held at  Zoo Atlanta on September 17th. The whole zoo becomes uncorked for everyone over 21.  This event is always fun and features wine sampling and delicious bites from the best Restaurants in Atlanta. 

VIP Hour: 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. |    Main Event: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. Tickets go on sale in June. https://www.zooatlanta.org

Tickets go on sale in June, and although it seems that September is a long time away, we all know that time flies by when you are having fun in Solivita. 

The Sippin Safari is a great event to plan a road trip around.   Last time we attended this event we did a short but fun road trip.  Our first stop was Valdosta, GA where we enjoyed a delicious meal and wandered through the area before checking into a hotel for the night.  Well rested, the next morning, we were up and out on our way to Atlanta.  Atlanta is a great city with lots of interesting neighborhoods to enjoy.  Lee and I like to stay in Buckhead or in the Inman Park Neighborhoods of Atlanta, but there are lots of nice places to stay and great attractions to visit while in Atlanta.

If a few days in the city is not your thing, spend a few days out in Clearwater Beach.  Tons of great things to do beside hanging out at the beach or pool.  Take a boat cruise, watch the dolphins frolic in the sea, go fishing, go shelling or take a ride to Dunedin.  Dunedin is an out of the way, cool little town with nice dining, a few interesting stores to wander around in, plus there is a sheltered beach with a good vibe.  

Whatever you do in Florida you can count on the sun shining and nice weather.  We are heading into Hurricane Season so watch the weather before you take off for the beach.