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Halloween 2019

Lee and I always look forward to a fun night of mischief and laughs on Halloween. When we lived up north, Halloween was always a dress up night with the doorbell ringing off the wall. Children, neighbors and friends would knock on our door to visit, get treats, and party with us. Halloween in Solivita is quieter, with no children in costumes to knock on our door, so every year Lee and I plan something fun. This year we are going to see the One Night Only RAT PACK UNDEAD Show at the Osceola Playhouse. Although Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. are dead, on Halloween 2019 they will rise again and perform on stage for a few hours. We will be transported back in time as the cast croons their hearts out for one night only in Kissimmee. We are Looking forward to seeing and hearing this show, it has gotten some great reviews and sounds like a fun way to spend the evening. Dinner with family and friends first and then on to the main event. Happy Halloween to all our friends, family and clients. We wish you a Sweet, Fun Evening filled with mischief of your own making.
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Fall is Festival Time in Florida

Solivita Fall Festival

Don’t miss the Fall Festival in downtown Solivita. The Festival is always a great day, entertainment, food, great crafts, plus talented artisans exhibit and market their goods, while music and fun fill the air, plus it is the perfect time to start shopping for the holidays. Last year we purchased beautiful framed photos by Solivita Resident Photographer, Linda Moffat. We also purchased Solivita handmade jewelry, and handknit sweaters for the grandchildren. Seems to me that there is something at the Festival for everyone. Even if you choose not to buy anything, our clubs are out selling food and it is a good day to visit with friends, bring the children out for some fun and enjoy the cooler weather we have all be waiting for. If you would like to visit Linda on the web, you can see her photos at

Epcot’s International Food & Wine Festival; August 29 – Nov. 23, 2019

The festival runs from the end of August through mid-November. The event is marked by wine tastings, Disney and guest chefs cooking up culinary delights, and the popular Eat to the Beat Concerts. Entrance to the Festival, plus select wine and beer seminars, cooking demonstrations, culinary exhibits, concerts and all attractions are included with regular Epcot admission. Specialty events require reservations and separate event admission.

Fantasy Fest in Key West; October 18 – October 27, 2019

Put on your greasepaint and let the good times roll for ten days of celebrating that can only be described as zany, bizarre, and hilarious. Fantasy Fest participants take to the streets of Key West in a somewhat raucous style with circuses and sideshows like you've never seen before. Nonstop activities include parades, masquerades, street parties, and more. From what we have heard, If you're prone to flamboyance, this event is better than Mardi Gras. There is a scintillating 2019 Fantasy Fest Schedule online so if you have time and love to party this could be the fest for you. The theme for 2019 Key West Fantasy Fest is “In Tune but Off Key: Celebrating 40 Years of Fantasy” having never been to Key West during Fantasy Fest, we hear it is very busy during this time of the year, so don’t go without being assured you have a place to stay, but if you go, buckle up and be ready for a wild time.

It may be too late this year to book Fantasy Fest but now you know when it is, put it on your calendar for next year and book 2020 at least 9 months in advance. Fantasy Fest is always about the same time every year so start looking on the website for the exact dates and plan your escape to Fantasy Fest 2020.

Apalachicola 56th Annual Florida Seafood Festival; November 1 & 2, 2019

The Florida Seafood Festival is a two-day event annually drawing tens of thousands of visitors to the historic town of Apalachicola in scenic Franklin County. The Festival is held at the mouth of the Apalachicola River under the shady oaks of Apalachicola’s Battery Park in downtown Apalachicola. There are events for just about everyone. The Festival features delicious seafood, arts and crafts exhibits, seafood related events, and Musical Entertainment. Some of the notable events include; Oyster Eating and Oyster Shucking Contest, Blue Crab Races, Photo Contest, a parade, 5K Redfish Run, the Blessing of the Fleet, History of the Festival Exhibit plus lots of fun and people watching in a beautiful place on the river.

This is always a fun festival held in a beautiful old town in Florida. Dress casual and comfortable, put on your flip flops and have a blast enjoying the freshest seafood around.
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Tis the Season to Start Planning for House Guests

Great visits start with great planning. This time of the year Lee and I start planning for our holiday house guests. We try to limit the number of out of town guests per visit so that we have time to spend with each of our guests, and comfortably accommodate them all.

We love to have family and friends stay at our home and we find if we have planned the visit well, we are sure to have fun. We keep an air mattress on hand, spare sheets, extra pillows, blankets, and towels. In our guest baths we place baskets containing extra toiletries, toothbrushes, toothpaste, lotions, etc. In the guest bedrooms we like to leave a local guide to events and attractions, a few bottles of water, and a few small bags of snacks that our guests can take with them when they venture out. We also print instructions on how to use the coffee pot, washing machine, etc., and instructions on where to find the supplies. Since Lee and I are out working, leaving instructions frees us up, and provides our guests with the ability to care for themselves.

We let our guests know that they are welcome to relax and enjoy their stay by leaving paperback books, fresh flowers and some note paper in each of our guest rooms. We also leave a calendar with a schedule of breakfast and dinner times so that our guests know ahead of time what we have planned. We do not always stick to the plan, but we find it helpful to have a plan and be prepared. I make a few items ahead, muffins, granola, hard boiled eggs, a quiche, simple items to make breakfast easy. We leave lots of fresh greens, cheese and fruit in the fridge, so our guests find it easy to make lunch or a snack. Dinner is up to you. We generally cook one or two of the nights during a visit and dine out with our guests, and we always encourage our guests to venture off to enjoy dinner on their own. We have even enjoyed a pizza night while guests were in residence. We find it fun to entertain, and if you make the visit easy it will be fun for everyone. No one wants to spend their vacation doing dishes and as a host we find if we make the visit too much work for us, we are too exhausted to enjoy the company. So have fun with your guests, be kind to yourself, and enjoy your guests in Solivita style.

When I know company is coming, I make the following Muffin Recipe. These muffins can be made in advance and frozen.

Lorraine’s Company’s Coming Muffins

1 ½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
¾ Cup Sugar
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup oil
1 large egg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg

Mix and Stir in

½ cup walnuts chopped or
½ cup raisins

  Mix Dry Ingredients. Mix Wet Ingredients. Mix Wet Ingredients into dry. Do not overbeat. This should be done with a spoon. No need for a mixer. Spoon into greased muffin pans. Bake 375 till toothpick inserted in center is clean. Let cool, remove and serve
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Bella Verde is a Proud Sponsor of The One Plus One Giving Program for the Guardian ad Litem & Foster Children of Osceola County

Bella Verde Realty is proud to sponsor The Third Annual One Plus One Giving Program. Our commitment to Osceola and Polk County’s children is simply to give these kids the best holiday possible. Bella Verde Realty will match every gift donated: you give one, the children get two! Ages for children in the program range from infant to 18 and all gifts are greatly appreciated. GAL advises that the younger children in the program get the most support, although all gifts are appreciated, gifts for the older children are greatly needed. Currently over 500 children are enrolled in the Guardian ad Litem Foundation of Osceola Inc. Children’s Program and gifts at this time of the year are especially appreciated. Kindly bring your unwrapped gifts to the Bella Verde Office from 10/15/2019 to 12/3/2019.

Our Christmas Tree is already decorated, and the Bella Verde elves have been busy gathering gifts. Together let’s make this a happy holiday season & show these children we care about them. Stop by our office, pick up a flier, drop off a gift, and help a child have a happy holiday.

I've achieved 'the American dream.' I feel it's my duty to help others achieve their vision, too - especially the youth.
― Joe Frazier
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Announcement: Congratulations to Lorraine!

Congratulations to Lorraine Valdes and Bella Verde Realty! Lorraine Valdes was chosen as one of the TOP Producing 500 Realtors in the Orlando Area, which is a wonderful honor and a true tribute to her knowledge, abilities and the many accomplishments Lorraine has achieved. Lorraine and Lee were guests at the Dr. Phillips House in Orlando at the Real Producers End of Summer Celebration. Lorraine was the only realtor to win this prestigious award in Solivita and is thrilled to be honored for her hard work, total sales, and devotion to her clients. Photos of the event are on the website. Lorraine and Lee report that it was a grand evening filled with music, dancing under the stars, champagne, hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, awards, fun, and to end the evening, an ice cream truck.
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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.