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Sales in Solivita

Amazing. When the Coronavirus started we all braced for a slow-down in our housing market, but the reverse has occurred. Homes are selling briskly in Solivita. We did a highly unscientific survey of our current sales and find that many of our sales are being generated by folks moving down from the big cities. In the winter months it is typical for us to see sales spike as snow and ice storms ravage the northeast and mid-west, but this year we are seeing an exodus from the big cities, Indianapolis, NYC, Milwaukee, Boston, and Hartford to name a few. We are happy to welcome all our new neighbors to Solivita, a beautiful, safe community in Central Florida. We are here to respond to any questions or concerns you may have and as always happy to assist you with selling or buying a new home. We have nine licensed realtors, all living in Solivita, ready to assist you.
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Strawberries from Florida are Delicious!

Lee and I use them in everything from Salads to Chilled Soups to Drinks. Below is one of the latest drinks we are brewing up and enjoying. This is the easiest recipe we have ever published, leaving no excuse not to make this one.

Strawberry Liqueur Recipe

2 Pound Strawberries, cleaned and sliced
2 Cups Vodka, Your Favorite Brand
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water

To make this Delicious Summer Liqueur or Strawberry Vodka follow the below instructions.

In a large jar that closes tightly add the sliced strawberries and cover with the vodka. Stir to combine. Place in a dark cupboard or closet for 20 days (or less if you can’t wait), remember to twirl the jar to mix every two days. Lee and I have whipped this up in as quickly as 10 days, but the longer the fruit infuses the more strawberry flavor will develop.

After 20 days has passed, make the syrup. In a medium pot add the sugar and water. Heat over medium heat until the mixture boils, stir often, and once boiling lower the heat and cook for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.

Strain the alcohol from the strawberries into a clean jar or bottle with a tightfitting lid. Dispose of the strawberries. Add the cooled syrup and stir to combine. Close the jar and refrigerate before serving. This can also be stored in the freezer.

The flavor profiles can be changed simply by reducing the sugar content. If you do not make the simple syrup, you will have Strawberry Vodka, Also Delicious. We add a squeeze of lime and enjoy the Strawberry Vodka over ice or mixed with some club soda. This makes a refreshing summer drink on a hot day.

We serve the liqueur at the end of a meal in the summer months. If you are into cream desert drinks, add a touch of milk or cream to a shaker, mix the Liqueur and pour into a glass and serve over ice. We Hope you Enjoy this simple summer taste from our table to yours. We are at the end Florida’s Strawberry Season, but Blueberries are tumbling into our markets now. It is Time to experiment, I will let you know how it all turns out. To be continued…….
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Looking for a Change, Try a New Color

It appears that after six years, Cool Gray is fading out and warmer tones including warmer grays are coming back. Our entire office is painted in a Cool Neutral Gray, with warmer gray tones on the floor. I love this look and see no paint change in our future, but if I were moving in today, I would be choosing one of the warmer, deeper shades that is being shown in all the designer magazines. Modern farmhouse design and home décor will continue to be on trend, but from what I have read, the experts predict overall design will lean a bit more modern. Black window trim mixed with white exterior home colors continue to be popular, but more saturated colors are moving in. Darker richer, grays with undertones of green, blue, brown and violet are hot and dark shades of blue is still trending.

As realtors we do many home tours, and are starting to see lots of walls, and kitchen cabinets (especially the lower cabinets) painted in deep shades of blue, and they are stunning. Last week, I toured a home that installed shiplap on their headboard wall. After installing shiplap the homeowner painted the shiplap black. The completed bedroom had a touch of smart sophistication and was a relaxing space. A daring design choice and not a color I would choose, but after seeing it done, it may be time to rethink my color choices.
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Check out Zoo Tampa!

Spring has sprung and it seems that all of Florida is in bloom. From the grasses to the flowering trees, life is bursting out all over Solivita and recently two manatees burst out of Zoo Tampa and are again swimming in their home waters. Lee and I are members of Zoo Tampa and recently spent a wonderful day enjoying all that Zoo Tampa offers.

For us Floridians, Zoo Tampa offers exhibits showcasing our local wildlife as well as wildlife from all over the world. In the Florida exhibit we especially love to visit the manatees and Florida panthers. Must admit, Lee and have a special affection for the Manatee Exhibit, which includes a Critical Care Center that rescues, heals, rehabilitates, and releases healthy manatees back into the wild. The Zoo has a public observation area where you can watch the rehabilitation process. Recently Zoo Tampa returned two rehabilitated manatee patients back to Florida waters. The duo, named Fern and her dependent calf, Wilber, came to Zoo Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center last May following a boat strike that caused severe injuries. When Fern arrived at the zoo, she was suffering from broken ribs and a pneumothorax (air in her chest cavity). Due to her injuries, Fern was buoyant on the water’s surface and unable to submerge to obtain food.

Zoo Tampa provided around the clock fluids and medications to keep Fern Stable and comfortable while Wilbur was able to eat greens that he required to stay close to mom. The team worked tirelessly for almost two months to get Fern to eat. By the end of summer 2019, Fern was finally showing signs of improvement and spent the next six months gaining her strength, eating over 100 lbs. of produce daily.

Today Fern and Wilbur are in their home waters in Charlotte County. Manatees face increasing dangers including boat strikes. Habitat degradation, entanglements, cold water stress and red tide blooms.

Zoo Tampa is a leader in wildlife conservation and only one of a total of four manatee critical care and rehab centers in the U.S. Zoo Tampa has cared for more than 430 injured, sick and orphaned manatees. During this time you must make a reservation to visit Zoo Tampa. Visit them on the website to see the current visiting rules at The Zoo is at 1101 W. Sligh Ave in Tampa. Parking is free and it is only 70 miles from Solivita.

If a trip to the zoo is not your “cup of tea” how about a trip to visit one of Florida’s beautiful gardens. McKee Botanical Gardens is on the East Coast of Florida. This month’s newsletter has you crossing the state, but since Solivita is in the center of everything, whatever coast you visit you can be on either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean in 1.5 hours. In Florida, there is always something in bloom. Lee and I have spent many happy afternoons in one of Florida’s many gardens, and we both enjoy a visit to a garden whenever we find a few hours of free time to share. If you have not yet been to the McKee Botanical Gardens on Highway 1 in Vero Beach, it is a nice drive and a nice afternoon. The gardens are old and filled with orchids, dense tropical vegetation, rare trees, and ponds filled with aquatic plants. Bring the grandchildren to the children’s garden, you and the children will enjoy a wonderful adventure as you travel with them over the bridge, climb the ropes, and watch them play in the Karst Splash Garden. McKee Gardens are a wonderful adventure for the grandchildren, and a fun break for the grandparents, PLUS if you spent the morning on Vero Beach, a NICE BREAK from the hot sand and sun. Our suggestion; enjoy the beach in the morning and the cool of the afternoon in the Jungle Garden. If you would like to check out McKee Gardens their website is
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Recipe of the Month – Lorraine’s Inspired Chicken

The following recipe is inspired by our lunch in Café Longet and now I have had plenty of time to test and refine this VERY EASY RECIPE INSPIRED by our day trip to Venice.

Lorraine’s Inspired Chicken
4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
1 Package 4 Oz. Boursin Cheese or Herbed Goat Cheese
½ Cup Shredded Mozzarella
4 Slices Prosciutto

Preheat the Oven to 400 degrees.

Use a meat tenderizer and pound the breasts until they are about ¼” thick. Pat dry and season with Salt and Pepper. Please a spoonful or two of Boursin on one end of each chicken breast, top with a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese and roll the chicken up starting at the cheese filled end. Wrap a slice of prosciutto around each piece of chicken and place in a baking dish with the seam side down. Repeat. This recipe serves four. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear when pierced with a fork.

I have been serving this delicious chicken with sautéed green beans, topped with roasted slivers of almonds or with sautéed spinach with garlic. This is easy and delicious, perfect for a weeknight meal or a tasty meal for company, when we are again entertaining in our homes.
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Seeing Florida One Town at a Time

In January before the shutdown, Lee and I spent a great day in Venice, Florida. A nice little town with a friendly downtown area, good shopping, a busy, local restaurant scene, a farmer’s market, and a quiet public beach. We shopped a few of the boutiques and purchased some Italian imported ceramics. The restaurants were spectacular, and our meal did not disappoint.

We had quite a few restaurants to choose from, so instead of enjoying just one restaurant, we enjoyed a “Moveable Feast”. Appetizers in Bodrum, a Middle Eastern Restaurant, Escargot and Salad in Café Longet the French Bistro, and Homemade Gelato at Ciao Gelato. A delicious, beautiful day in the Florida sunshine. The beauty of life in Central Florida is we are central to it all. Venice is only about 15 minutes south of Sarasota. This was the first time Lee and I spent any time on this part of the Florida Gulf Coast and we enjoyed the day and the community. We spent the morning stretching our legs with a beach walk before our afternoon feast and then shared a leisurely drive home through the farmland that spans the Central Florida backroads.
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Reopened and ready!

If you had planned to visit Solivita, but the Coronavirus has delayed your visit, Bella Verde Realty wants you to know you can visit us on the web and purchase your piece of Paradise remotely. We are fine here, staying #SolivitaStrong, praying for folks working to keep us safe, fed and healthy, praying for the unfortunate souls throughout the world who are sick, and the souls of those who have passed. We continue to pray for safe medical intervention and a vaccine. Times are trying for everyone, everywhere, but we are all in this together and together we will get thru this. During the last 60 days, for our safety and yours, many homes were Temporarily Off the Market (TOM), but we are happy to announce that since the state of Florida has opened, homes are back on the market and selling quickly!

Our website lets you take a Virtual Tour of any home in Solivita. If you do not want to wait, the time is now, wait no longer, Bella Verde Realty has you covered. Walk through our website and visit every home available for sale in Solivita. If, after visiting our site, you find a home you want to see, we will be happy to meet you, show you around the neighborhood, and personally walk you through a home, or virtually visit with you and walk you through homes on Facetime, WhatsApp or Skype. The market is moving quite briskly, as many folks are re-locating from the densely populated cities to a more relaxed and peaceful lifestyle.

Looking back at life in Central Florida before the Pandemic and all the fun we miss. We can assure you that fun times are returning as we are starting to see small groups of folks enjoying time together while maintaining a safe distance. Our friends and neighbors are being creative and hosting small gatherings in their driveways, on their lawns, or while parked in their golf carts. Our pools have reopened, our golf courses are green, and balls are again flying, and our walking trails are a great way to stay in shape. In Solivita, we have no excuse to not get out and enjoy a bit of Florida sunshine.

The good news is that our air is less polluted around the world, our roads are safer due to less traffic, gas prices are down and the pollution that flows daily from our factories into our rivers, streams and oceans has been reduced. Every coin does have two sides, and sadly the shutdown left a tremendous number of our fellow citizens unemployed and struggling. Solivita is a great community of folks and I am happy to report that together our neighborhoods have pitched in and helped to raise food and awareness for our local food pantries. We surely have a lot of caring folks in this community, thank you Solivita for making us proud to live, work and help lots of new folks find their perfect home in the Solivita sunshine.
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Bella Verde Realty and COVID-19: An Update!

Dear Bella Verde friends and family,

Hello from Central Florida! The good news for us is that we are all safe and hunkered down here in Solivita. The weather is lovely, Solivita looks absolutely beautiful, and all of our trees, grasses and flowers are in full bloom. Our Sandhill Cranes are busy taking care of their recently hatched young and we are enjoying the newborn baby alligators in our community . . . from a safe distance! The current situation cannot steal the joy and beauty of our natural surroundings. Only we as individuals can let that happen. It’s a joy each day to see the strength of folks here in Solivita as they quietly and safely go about their lives.

All of our Solivita neighbors are being diligent, kind and careful, and life is going on. Life may be different for us, but it’s different for the entire global community. We are all worried about staying safe, remaining healthy, and avoiding being infected by this virus. Most of our community may be retired and not stressed about losing their jobs, but many residents have suffered losses in their retirement accounts, which can be just as frightening. Whatever your position may be, there are challenges and obstacles to face.

The best news for us is that as of today, we have NO cases of COVID-19 reported. It’s a good sign so far and hopefully persists as time goes on. Solivita is still busy, but busy being quiet. Lee and I went for a walk yesterday and saw countless friends out walking, jogging, gardening, riding bikes, and cruising in their golf carts. Since the pools, clubs, restaurants and other group activities are all shuttered, we are learning how to enjoy the pleasures of our surroundings on an individual basis. Some of our neighbors are flipping through their recipe boxes, cooking in their kitchens and grilling on their lanais. In fact, during our walk we enjoyed the aroma of chicken roasting from a neighbor’s kitchen as it mingled with the fragrance of the orange trees in bloom. Pleasant and peaceful, we are all starting to enjoy the simple pleasures of an uncluttered life.

Lee and I are concentrating on our health, on the future, and of course, on what’s happening in the news. Daily we pray for every victim and their families, for our medical community, for our fellow citizens, and for a cure; so, we are busy, just a very different type of busy.

As far as real estate goes, WOW we are in a unique state of affairs now. We still have homes on the market for sale, we are still building homes, and we have many more homes in the pipeline that will be listed for sale, once this crisis is behind us.   In the interim, technology has blessed us with the ability to close sales on homes remotely and show homes to prospective buyers remotely. It’s amazing what we can do in the 21st century! All open houses are cancelled, and we are not showing owner-occupied homes for the safety of our residents. The community of Solivita is safe and strong, and the accolades our community has received speak for themselves. Visit us on the web and see how nice life is in Central Florida. Look through our videos, see our photos and read our blogs. We guarantee that once this virus is behind us, life will be good again for us all and real estate will be booming! We are preparing for the market boom! We are SOLIVITA STRONG.

Now’s the point when I want to hear about you. How are you doing? How is your community? Email me or comment and share your news today!

Spring wishes and happy thoughts,

Lorraine  and Lee Valdes
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Revised Train Schedule for the Orlando Magic Weekday Games

During the Orlando Magic Weekday Home Games this season, SunRail is running a special 10:30 PM southbound service train from Church Street Station to Poinciana. This gives us plenty of time to enjoy a nice dinner downtown before boarding the train home. In addition, if you are in Winter Park, you can leave Winter Park on the last train at 8:45 pm for Orlando, exit at the Church Station Station, enjoy a nightcap or dessert, and catch the late train home. The schedule is below for February thru April:

Wednesday 2/12, Friday 2/21, Friday 2/28
Monday 3/2, Thursday 3/12, Wednesday 3/19, Wednesday 3/25, Friday 3/27
Wednesday 4/1, Friday 4/10 and Wednesday 4/15

We may be 55 PLUS, but we still know how to party, so let’s show SunRail we are ready to ride the rails late into the evening!
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Florida Strawberries

This year’s crop is just starting to find their way to our markets, and this year every berry I have tasted is sweet as sugar. When Florida Berries are in season, I add them to almost every recipe I make; from a Fruit Smoothie in the Morning to Strawberries in a Garden Salad for lunch or a cool bowl of Chilled Strawberry Soup in the evening. Enjoy the seasonal bounty in our markets, courtesy of our local growers. Florida is also busy growing some great Blueberries and in March so when our Strawberries are out of season our Blueberries make their appearance in our local markets and in my kitchen.

Florida Strawberries are So Celebrated that Florida hosts a Strawberry Festival. It is an 11 day community event celebrating the strawberry harvest of Eastern Hillsborough County. Every year over 500,000 visitors flock to the festival, enjoy the entertainment, the livestock shows, exhibits and celebrate the Florida Strawberry. My favorite treat at the festival is the Famous Festival Strawberry Shortcake. It is always a fun afternoon. This year the festival will be from February 27 to March 8th and is located in Plant City. You can Visit the Festival on the web at: