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Our Newest Member of the Bella Verde Team

We are happy to introduce Richard Streitler to the Bella Verde Family of Realtors. Richard has been a friend of our family for over 25 years. Richard moved from Maitland and has lived, worked, and played in Solivita for the last few years. Richard has a background in design and has helped our team to stage, provided garden suggestions, and has made minor redecorating suggestions and achieved major impact to homes we are listing. He is quite talented, and we are thrilled to have him on our team. Richard’s expertise in design will help him and us as we market and sell homes throughout our community. Call Richard to list your home, he will be happy to assist you with staging and design ideas to help your home move from Listed to Sold. Call Richard at 321-251-0688.
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Fall Apple Acorn Stuffed Squash

2 Acorn Squash, halved and seeded
2 Tbsp Butter
1 cup chopped onions
4 cups peeled Granny Smith apples seeded and chopped
½ cup golden raisins, or dried cranberries
2 Tbsp Light brown sugar
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese

  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the squash on a baking tray cut side down. Fill the tray with ½” water

  Bake the squash in the preheated oven about 40 minutes. Drain any remaining water from the baking tray.

  Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and apple until the onion is translucent, 10 – 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool.

  Once the squash is done, stir in all the ingredients, except the squash. Turn the squash cut side up and fill with the mixture. Return the squash to the oven and bake until filling is hot and the cheese has melted. 15 – 20 minutes.

  Lee and I love this dish. It is a good company dish, a good accompaniment to a dinner, or a great dinner when served with a salad. We prepare the stuffing and cut the squash in the morning, bake the squash, and add the stuffing when we get home from work and within an hour we are enjoying a healthy delicious dinner.
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Solivita Fall Festival

Solivita is scheduling the Annual Fall Festival in the Village Center for Saturday, the 6th of November. This will be the 20th Fall Arts and Crafts Festival and we have been to each and every festival. We are Proud Solivita Pioneers, we picked our lot, contracted for our home and our moved into our new home in May of 2002. We don’t quite remember the date, but we do remember the excitement of moving to a new neighborhood, into a new home surrounded by the beauty of Solivita and good neighbors who all became friends. When we were looking for a home in Central Florida, Solivita stood out to us. The infrastructure was already in place, the amenities were what we were looking for and the builder had a great reputation, plus each of the model homes were lovely. After 20 years, we still feel the same way. This year we sold our original home and moved to a newer home in Solivita. The kids are growing up now and have families of their own, therefore our space needs have grown with the family. We thought about making changes to our existing home, but after lots of consideration, we decided, we just needed a bigger home. Benefit is, now that we buy less toys for the kids we have more toys for us. We love our new home, it is spacious, open plan and has a large garage leaving us room for our bikes, golf carts, golf clubs, cars, and the necessary ladder and work bench. We are starting all over again, planting our garden, redecorating our home, and making plans for our future at our new address. Twenty years later, starting over in a new home is just as exciting this time around as it was the last time.

Looking forward to the Fall Fest, planning to Christmas Shop and purchase some items made by our local crafters and artisans. Our community has many talented folks, the items at the festival are always amazing. Talented photographers, artists, potters, quilters, and crafters, we bring our Christmas List and shop till we drop, visit with friends, enjoy lunch, a glass of wine, the music, and together we share a lovely day. A Day at The Fall Festival Beats shopping at one of the Malls in Paramus, NJ. No waiting for a parking space, no fighting the traffic, no need to scrape ice from our windows or defrost our locks. It is just a day of good cheer and a great way to “score some good gifts” for each other and those we love. The perfect start to the Holiday Season. See you at the Fall Fest!
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Columbia Restaurant at Celebration

OK. Enough family fun, how about dinner out for the adults at Columbia in Celebration. With Covid we have been laying low, but this week family was in from NJ, and Lee and I were tired of cooking and cleaning up the party remains. Celebration is an easy drive and always has been a great place for a good meal. We reserved an outdoor table and met our family at 6 PM on Sunday. We enjoyed a lovely walk around town, hung out by the lake, and had a nice outdoor table at Columbia appropriately spaced from other diners. Dinner and the Service were wonderful. The staff were all masked, very helpful and knowledgeable. They discussed specials, and even made up a special Grouper Dinner for us. We shared Columbia’s Original 1905 Salad, it was delicious, and we thought a healthy choice, but then the salad came to the table with meats and cheese, so much for our healthy start. Of course, it was delicious and trust me I am not complaining, as we enjoyed every bite. We followed with a choice of Tapas and then on to the main entrée, Grouper. The Grouper was perfectly prepared and tasted as though it had just jumped out of the sea. It was served with Yellow Rice and grilled asparagus, and each piece was piled with crabmeat. To complete our delicious evening, we enjoyed a pitcher of Sangria with dinner. Columbia Restaurant is a good night out in a beautifully decorated restaurant in a lovely location. The beauty of living in Central Florida is, everyone visits, whether they come to see you, or they come to visit the attractions and stop in to visit with you, Central Florida is a great place to live as well as a great place to visit.
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Safari Animals are coming to Polk County

Safari Land being Planned for River Ranch Resort & Rodeo in Polk County

Looks like Safari Animals are coming to Polk County at Westgate Ranch Resort in 2022. Another great place to enjoy and to share with the grandchildren. The animals planned are all non-aggressive and include water buffalo, giraffes, deer, and other hooved animals in the 45–50-acre Safari Area on the resort grounds. While most of the animals will be peaceful creatures, there will be an alligator exhibit in an area separate from the safari experience. The goal of Westgate Resorts is to create a unique immersive and interactive experience where guests can drive through the safari on golf carts or narrated guided trams. According to Mark Waltrip, COO of Westgate Resorts, “The safari has been specifically designed in very large open fields to allow the animals to replicate their natural habitat with large oak canopies for natural shade.” Waltrip said the fields would be separated from the cart paths with a double-layer barrier between the guests and the large animals. An education area focused on animals along with a picnic area and a playground is planned too. This proposed project will be brought to the Planning Commission in November and the Westgate Team is optimistic that this project will move smoothly to permitting and completion. This sounds like a nice addition to the “glamping” resort and is only one hour south of Orlando, so another great place to take the kids. Visit Westgate Ranch Resort at: 3200 River Ranch Blvd, River Ranch, FL 33867.
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Fall in Florida

Finally, a cool breeze is rustling through the Palm Trees in Solivita. I love this time of the year, the morning air is fresh, and the afternoon highs are manageable announcing the arrival of fall, my favorite time of the year. This year we are taking the grandchildren to the PARTIN RANCH CORN MAZE for a fun day at the farm. We will explore the over 5 acres of mazes, with various one-way length trails, as our family has children of the perfect age to explore a large maze. If your family has children on the younger side you can explore the 1-acre corn maze trail. The PARTIN RANCH is cattle working ranch, and you and your family will get to visit with the animals, pick out a pumpkin, take a pony ride, a hayride, enjoy a ride on the Barrel train, play some games or ride on the Farm Harvester. Whatever you choose to do, it will be a fun experience. The Farm is Open on Saturday and Sunday from October 9th to November 7th. Weather permitting. The last weekend of October is Trick or Treat Weekend and children in costumes 3-12 years old get in free on that weekend only.

Days spent at a Farm in the Fall remind me of growing up in NJ where our tradition would be to go apple picking at Tice’s Farm, drink delicious freshly pressed cider, and eat warm apple cider donuts. In my mind’s eye I still see the old wooden cider press squeezing out sweet, fresh apple cider while the bees buzzed around the sweet fresh pressed cider. The farm was near our home, and when I close my eyes, I can still smell the aroma of the freshly made cider donuts coated in cinnamon sugar, hot and delicious. A few years ago, my brother-in-law shipped in apple cider donuts from Delicious Orchards in NJ, as sadly “progress” turned Tice’s Farm and apple orchard into housing and yet another NJ Shopping Center. We were all looking forward to again experiencing the taste of a cider donut, only to find ourselves sadly disappointed. Don’t know if our tastes have matured, or the miles between the cider dipped donuts in NJ and Florida spoiled the taste, but I can tell you that will be the last time we ship in cider donuts. This year we will skip the cider donuts, but we will still enjoy the treats of the season and the fun that fall brings and we hope you do as well. Happy Halloween, Hope you each get more treats than tricks.

Happy Halloween to you from Bella Verde Realty. Lee and I are not planning to dress up this year, instead we are planning to have a quiet Halloween, perhaps light the BBQ, or maybe just hang out at home, put a football game on and order a pizza. In Solivita we do not have any children dressing up, ringing our bell, and looking for treats since we are all over 55. It took a year or two to get used to not buying candy for the kids, but after all these years we are used to a Halloween without the bell ringing off the wall. We went to Kilwin’s in Celebration, purchased some dark chocolate covered orange peels and our plan is to open the box on Halloween and enjoy a treat together. No tricks this year, the COVID-19 Pandemic delivered enough tricks for us all. Happy Halloween, Hope you enjoy a good treat and have a fun day.

The Partin Ranch is located at 5601 N. Canoe Creek Road, Kenansville, FL 34739 and you can reach them on the web at:
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Resilient Landscaping

Resilient Landscaping that Looks Lovely & Ups Your Curb Appeal plus your selling price.

A lovely landscape is great for curb appeal and increases the value of your home while bringing joy to the gardener or the homeowner who plans, plants, and sits back, and enjoys their landscape bloom and flourish.

While no one can control Mother Nature, homeowners can make choices better suited for the strong, sunny climate of Central Florida. Smart landscaping choices can also reduce energy usage. The right trees and shrubs can block wind and provide shade in the heat. Do some research on your outdoor garden space, check the amount of sun and shade in different parts of your planned garden, and include in your research some soil knowledge, as your soil may be wet in some areas yet dry in others. This is the key to planting the right plant in the right space. Adding fresh Mulch once per year will help plantings retain moisture and prevent erosion. So, like real estate “location, location, location” is important for plants too. Example: Hydrangeas need lots of sun or they won’t bloom, and ferns need to be shaded to be happy.

When choosing your plantings know the animals that frequent your lawn and avoid plants that attract them. Example, deer love Hosta and roses, so if you have deer around avoid these plants. When adding hardscape to your garden consider which types will wear best in the Central Florida Climate. Look for materials that won’t fade and will allow water to seep into the ground.

When we first moved in we built a trellis from cedar, planted it, and enjoyed it for about 5 years. It was lovely, only to rot in this wet, humid climate, unfortunately we had to remove it. Our current trellis is steel and has held up well over time. A lesson learned.

During the Pandemic, while we were all staying in, gardening became a great passion and beautified our landscape and our life. Pick up a shovel, and plant something, it is fun to see your garden grow.
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Do Unto Others (DUO)

Stop by the Farmer’s Market at Solivita and visit the DUO Tent to bring food donations for the St. Rose Food Pantry. Donations are most appreciated and being accepted on Monday and Friday, September 24th through October 11th. The most needed items include canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned meat, or pasta sauce; bags of rice; dried pasta or beans; peanut butter; and macaroni and cheese. If you have clean plastic bags for the pantry to reuse, they will be appreciated too.

Enjoy the Autumn, as we watch the turkey’s wander around our Community……..Get ready, Thanksgiving is almost here!
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The Music Series at the Howey Mansion

Announcing the 2021 – 2022 Music Series at the Mansion. A series of six concerts. We attended a few of the Howey Music Concerts on the lawn last year and each was a treat. This year there is a mix of concerts, some in the great hall and some outdoor on the front lawn or in the courtyard. If the show is in the Great Hall you are in for a treat as the Hall has been lovingly restored and is a fabulous venue for a concert. If you choose one, or all, of the outdoor concerts, you will not be disappointed, the grounds are tree lined and lovely. With the Mansion as the backdrop each of these concerts will be a treat for all your senses. The series runs from October to April of 2022. Attend one show or buy tickets for them all. The music ranges from Classical to Opera to Blues and Jazz. It is always nice to give yourself a treat to look forward to. Plan brunch or a nice lunch on the day of the concert and head to the show. The Howey Mansion has been beautifully restored and is in Howey-in-the-Hills, Florida, an easy day trip drive from Solivita. If you want to make an overnight trip, this is a great destination and very simple to plan. Book a night at the Mission Inn, it is across the street from the Howey Mansion, drive up, check in and enjoy a great time surrounded by the beauty of central Florida and rolling hills that make this area special. Pre or Post show enjoy the beauty of the Mission Inn Property, the flowers are always in bloom and this area of Florida will really give you the sense of being away. The Mission Inn is on a lovely property and has nice spots to enjoy an “after concert” cocktail or a delicious dinner. The rooms are simple but comfortable, the golf courses are good, and you will return from your mini vacation feeling refreshed and relaxed.
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In Florida, Every Day is a Beach Day

The beauty of Life in Central Florida is we are “Central to it all”, about 1 hour and 15 minutes from an east coast or a west coast beach. Lee and I prefer the east coast beaches as the beaches are usually empty, the water is refreshing, and a day at the beach is a day that is hard to top. You can swim at the Florida Beaches year-round, but Lee and I especially love the beaches in the fall and winter. We both enjoy the beaches in the Coco Beach Area. Coco has clean, comfortable, with lovely beaches, surrounded by great spots to enjoy fresh fish and is an easy drive from Solivita. The summer heat is turned down, the water is the perfect temperature, and once summer is done, the sand temperature is nice under your toes. Our beach day is simple, two beach chairs, an umbrella, towels, a small cooler, and off we go. Another great Florida Get Away from Solivita, close enough for a day trip, yet far from the storms that pummel the coasts and damage our homes and property.