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B.B. King’s

Recently we spent an evening with friends and family at B. B. Kings on International Drive. We had out of town company that wanted to hear some good blues and a bit of soul, so we made a reservation for dinner and a show at the home of “The King of Blues.” Lee and I were not expecting a great night, but B.B. Kings was a hoot! The entertainment was fabulous, and the food and service were good as well. Kris Thomas was a showstopper and his talent combined with the all-star band kept the club rocking all night. The band’s eight-man lineup had vocalists, guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and horns. Between the blues, the soul, the food and the service we had a grand time. B.B. Kings is a good night out for locals, and an entertaining evening for guests. We found parking with the valet attendant to be worth it, as parking on I Drive is not easy. We pulled up, handed our keys to a parking attendant and walked up the stairs to the club. We are going to watch the upcoming entertainment offerings at B.B. Kings, as we do not plan to wait for visiting guests before we visit the king again.
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Air Fryers are all the rage!

Lee and I purchased an air fryer a few months ago, after hearing rave reviews from two of our clients while at the closing table. We listened, we purchased one, and now I am passing on a rave review. We love it! It makes food brown and crispy without lots of added oil. Below is a version of a healthy eggplant parmesan that I have made a few times.

2 Eggplants, sliced about ½ thick.
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cups Tomato Sauce
12 Oz Mozzarella Cheese Sliced and Drained.
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

  Salt the eggplant slices and place in a colander. Allow to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 90 minutes. Rinse the slices and pat dry.

Rub a little oil over the eggplant and arrange a few at a time in the air fryer basket, in a single layer. Cook at 390 Degrees for 6-7 minutes. Repeat till all the slices are cooked.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom of a medium baking dish, then layer the eggplant on top so they overlap each other slightly. Grind some black pepper on top and add some mozzarella. Repeat the layering with sauce, eggplant and cheese, till all ingredients have been used. Bake for 20 minutes or till cheese is melted. Serve warm with some freshly grated parmesan cheese.
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Pizza in Central Florida

Lee and I were originally from NJ, about 3 miles on Route 4 and over the GW Bridge, so it goes without saying, we are also pizza fans. Our favorite pizza is pizza margherita and we both enjoy it well done, with a thin crust, extra garlic and finished with fresh basil. I make pizza, when time permits, and I must say it is quite good, but we do miss being able to walk to our local pizzeria and pick up a slice. Finding pizza we love in Central Florida has not been an easy task, at least it has not been easy for us. We are happy to report we have found two places that make pizza almost as good as the pizza of our NJ/NY Youth and are happy to share both locations with you.

Lee and I enjoy the flatbreads served at the Solivita Bistro; they are fresh and crispy plus, are always served with a salad. Convenient to order and pick up in our golf cart. When we are local, we run to the bistro for a quick lunch or dinner. The Bistro makes it easy for both of us and it is nice to have this convenience in Solivita. Now, when we want pizza reminiscent of our youth, we head to downtown Kissimmee for Broadway Pizza. You can order pizza your way, thin crust or regular, well done and crispy. The pizza is always fresh and flavorful with lots of topping choices. In addition, Broadway serves up fresh salads and has wine and beer on tap. Our other favorite is Bistro Pizza (Arabella’s Casual Dining Establishment) in Winter Haven. We like the pizza, but we love the crispy delicious calzones and stromboli Bistro serves. The dough and fillings are delicious, and the food comes to your table hot and crusty. Bistro Pizza has a brick oven and hand tosses their pizza dough, plus they have a wine list, beer on tap, and serve a delicious cappuccino for dessert. At this moment our search for good pizza has ended, but now the search begins for a good Thai Restaurant. If you know of any in our area, please let us in on your secret. Visit us on facebook at Bella Verde Realty or email me at
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Why Florida?

The three top states in the US for relocating retirees are New Mexico, Florida and Arizona and currently the top three states with residents fleeing their homes are NJ, Maine and Connecticut, all in the order as listed. Retiring residents are fleeing northern states for many reasons, but chief among them is the need to stretch their savings and their Social Security checks. It is always wise to know before you go what the true affordability factor is. Florida DOES NOT have a personal income tax, an estate tax, or an inheritance tax, although Florida does impose sales and property taxes. Florida’s overall tax burden has consistently ranked among the nation’s lowest for decades, according to the Tax Foundation, a non-profit and non-partisan educational and research organization.


Since Solivita is a 55+ Community, your property taxes are already substantially reduced, but in addition Florida offers several property tax exemptions that can help further reduce your tax bill and as full time residents you will be eligible for them all. They include a homestead exemption of up to $25,000 for an individual, or $50,000 for married taxpayers. Exemptions are also available for senior citizens over age 65 and the disabled.

In addition, veterans can qualify for four different types of exemptions, and widows and widowers are entitled to a $500 exemption provided they haven’t remarried and weren’t divorced at the time of the ex-spouse’s death. Homeowners who are legally blind are also entitled to a $500 exemption.


There are no “death taxes” in Florida, either on the value of an estate or on gifts received by beneficiaries. The Florida estate tax was repealed effective December 31, 2004 and it cannot be reinstated. The state’s constitution prohibits it.

Reduced property, estate and inheritance taxes are a prime reason that Florida is a good state for retirees as these reduced costs allow you to stretch your retirement savings and retirement income; while providing benefits for your heirs.

Lee and I were NJ residents and from experience can state that life in the Florida sunshine is not only a better life, but a good lifestyle, with a reduced cost of living. When we moved to Florida, we agreed to spend our disposable cash on fun, travel, food and life instead of high property taxes and state income taxes.

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Summer is Vacation Time to Share with the Family

Yes, the entire family wants to visit Disney, Universal, Sea World and Legoland, but do you really need to go broke buying tickets when the family is in town? We say, pick the one park you want to visit, spend a day and share the rest of what Florida has to offer with friends and family outside of the theme parks. It is wonderful to visit the parks and fun to spend a day or two, but it is also fun to spend quality time together; enjoy a swim in the pool, visit Gatorland in Orlando, take a Swamp Boat Tour, or a trip to one of the local farms to pick produce, or hit the coast and take a dip in the ocean. We took our grandchildren to Explorations V Children’s Museum in Lakeland and they loved it. Last year we got lucky while viewing the schedule at Painting with a Twist and found an art class for one of our 8-year-old guests. We all went together and had a blast; plus came home with the artwork to prove it! Pack a picnic and visit Bok Tower’s Children’s Garden; or take the family for a horseback ride at Lazy H Ranch in Kissimmee. Our grandchildren are city dwellers and are still quite young, so any outdoor activity we share with them is fun. Last year, the big hit of their visit was blowing bubbles, swimming in a blow-up pool and riding the tricycle we had purchased in advance of their visit. All fun, healthy activities and good diversions from the theme parks.
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Time for a Show: Newsies is Playing at the Osceola Playhouse

Lee and I were lucky enough to see Newsies on Broadway during one of our trips back home to visit friends and family in NJ, but I must say, we are still looking forward to this summer’s production of Newsies at the Osceola Playhouse. Although the Osceola Playhouse is not Broadway, we have seen lots of wonderful shows at this local family friendly theatre. It is a treat to have a Community Theatre with so many offerings that’s so close to Solivita. Osceola Playhouse focuses on the creative arts and promotes, cultivates and fosters interest in the arts by providing good entertainment at an affordable ticket price; thereby making the arts accessible to most. Today Osceola Arts produces over 150 performing and visual arts events each year and we are proud to sponsor our local playhouse and participate in their offerings. We encourage you to see a show, visit their gallery to view the artwork, volunteer, share your talents, purchase one of their offerings, and enjoy the benefits this wonderful playhouse offers. If you wish to visit the Osceola Playhouse on the web their address is One of the benefits of life in Central Florida is that your expenses are greatly reduced. In fact, you can buy a season of tickets at Osceola Playhouse for less than the price of a single ticket to one show on Broadway.
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Happy Fourth of July

Although this is the June newsletter, by the time I get the July newsletter written and published, it will be too late to wish you a happy and safe Independence Day 2019, so I am taking this opportunity to let you know that I hope you enjoy the fireworks, fun, BBQs, and pool parties. We are looking forward to celebrating the 4th of July, my Birthday and Gregg’s Birthday in one big party with Solivita sending up fireworks for all of us to enjoy. Solivita always puts on a good show and for a good reason; the celebration of the declaration of our independence. To quote A. Philip Randolph “Freedom is never given; it is won.” So, enjoy a happy and healthy 4th of July and if you find yourself in the market for a new or resale home call one of BVR’s Realtors; and we will be happy to help you find your perfect place in the sun. The resale home inventory in Solivita is tight, but there are still lots of great resale homes available, plus Taylor Morrison is busy building new homes and new models. A BVR Realtor will be happy to show you the new homes, new models and show you resale homes. Solivita is a great community to call home, with lots of activities, clubs, events, and natural beauty. Grab your fishing pole, your golf clubs, or your tennis racket, jump on the golf cart and ride to one of two championship golf courses, one of our fishing holes or one of our tennis courts. All located in Solivita and all beautifully maintained and landscaped. However, you enjoy spending your free time, I know you will enjoy spending it in Solivita.
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Walk In The Woods At Highlands Hammock State Park

Friends of ours asked us to take a hike with them in Highlands Hammock State Park last week. Not a choice I would normally make, but we had heard that the park was wonderful, and to be honest, Lee wanted to go. So, in a moment of weakness, I agreed. Highlands Hammock State Park is lovely, natural, the way I imagine Florida must have looked before development: lush, green, wet, and tranquil. We hiked on a Sunday afternoon and we both enjoyed the experience. It was an unusual experience, but Lee was really into it. As we entered the old growth canopy of Highlands Hammock State Park the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees and we enjoyed the peace and quiet of walking under oak trees that are a thousand years old. We plan to return in the fall to hike the catwalk of the cypress swamp as we have heard it is awesome. You can bird watch, take a ranger guided tour of the park, a tram tour, or bicycle the scenic three-mile loop, but whatever you do be prepared to be amazed. The walk took me out of my comfort zone but was worth the experience. I must admit I was a bit afraid as we were warned of snakes, gators, spiders and some nasty bugs, but we emerged refreshed and safe from our walk in the woods and eager to choose another path to enjoy on another day. Highlands Hammock State Park is in Sebring and surrounded by some good restaurants so since we hiked for Lee, I choose a good restaurant in downtown Sebring and together we enjoyed a lovely lunch. It was another perfect day in Central Florida. Come on down and share some perfect Central Florida days with us. You will be glad you did.
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Are You Into Real Estate TV Shows?

Sometimes I find myself flipping through TV channels and getting mesmerized by the real estate shows. I like to watch the boys on “Property Brothers,” David and Hilary on “Love It or List It” and I have even caught a few episodes with the very interesting cast of “Million Dollar Listing;” all of these shows entertain but are not truly representative of the real estate industry.

We have been selling real estate for quite a while and from experience can tell you that these TV shows do not match the realities of real estate. In TV land it appears that most buyers see three homes and purchase one. Yes, it is true, occasionally a buyer falls in love with the first home they see, but NAR (National Association of Realtors), Lee, and I beg to differ; as NAR states the average homebuyer personally tours 10 homes during their home search and we can attest to that statistic.

The fact is, most of the time, the homes TV buyers view are not even on the market as they have already been sold. Daily, our office fields multiple calls from potential buyers asking to see properties they have seen for sale on Zillow. Our office responds to each call and when we research the address, we find the home or property has already been sold and is no longer available. So, if you are searching for the home of your dreams call BVR, we are pros and will hook you up with listings that meet your criteria. We make it easy. We will send you listings with links to photos of homes and properties that match your desires. If you see a home that looks good to you; pick up the phone and call our office. We will arrange an appointment to show you the properties of interest and answer all questions and concerns you may have.

If you do not find any properties of interest; there is no reason to schedule an appointment. The gain for you, knowledge and the possibility of buying the home you have been dreaming of. While you look through the listings we send, you will not only see what is available, but the features you like, and the neighborhood qualities you prefer. The beauty of our ability to show you properties on the internet is simple. You can view properties in your own time in the comfort of your chair, while you gain experience in learning the drivers that influence property value. Our best clients are clients who know what they want in a home and understand the Central Florida real estate market. After all, buying a home is an important financial decision for you and your family.

It is fun to watch real estate TV and I enjoy it too, but the bottom line is you need an experienced professional on your side; someone who understands the market and ways to make the home of your dreams your reality. As Realtors we take great pride and pleasure in finding every one of our clients their perfect home. A Bella Verde Guarantee - we will work hard to make sure you get the best home for you at the best price possible.

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Bok Tower Wine Walk

This spring we attended the Bok Tower Wine Walk. The gardens were in full bloom and the event was a sellout, the sky was a bit overcast and the temperature was comfortable. A perfect day for photos, walking in the gardens, and enjoying the beauty of the blooms while sipping wine. Not only are the gardens at Bok Tower flourishing but so are the offerings that Bok provides to its members and its guests. We have enjoyed many activities at Bok Tower: the classes, the gardens, and the concerts. Sometimes we just go for an hour in the morning to enjoy a peaceful walk, but when time permits, we spend an afternoon under the shade of the trees in Central Florida’s garden on the hill. Bok Tower Gardens is a National Landmark located north of Lake Wales, about 15 minutes from Solivita. It consists of a 250-acre garden, a 205-foot Singing Tower with carillon bells, the Pine Ridge Trail, Pinewood Estates, a visitor center, café, gift and plant shop, plus classrooms including an outdoor kitchen for cooking classes and special dinners. The wine walk was not only well attended but well done. As we strolled through the gardens, an assortment of ten carefully curated wines from around the world were served with light nibbles. The nibbles as well as the wines were delicious. A peaceful, fun way to spend the day. If you would like to visit Bok Tower online their address is: