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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:
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Welcome to June!

It is summertime in Central Florida. June is a great month, and growing up it was always my favorite month, as I knew the magic of summer was about to unfold and an extended break from studies lie ahead. As a child, I loved summer; sleeping late, swimming with friends, and hanging out on warm nights, summer days years ago seemed to stretch on forever. Now, time just flies by. Lee and I got a jump on summer this year by planting a crop of heat loving veggies in our lanai garden. Our hot and sweet peppers are growing like crazy, they are not only delicious, but they love the Florida heat; making them the perfect summer crop. Lee enjoys chili peppers and I love Florida sweet peppers; thankfully, we have two planters and every day we have a harvest. We also planted a bed of romaine, as romaine is happy in the Florida heat, plus it is an easy lettuce to grow. In years past we grew spinach and kale, and they are great summer crops too, but this year we decided to try romaine and are happy we did. Being a “Jersey Girl,” I am partial to a good tomato and have found a few great varieties of cherry tomatoes that love the Florida heat. My current favorites are the black cherry and the sun gold varieties; sweet and beautiful. These days, the only things that hang out in the summer at our house are the beautiful veggies we grow. A great garden full of flavor is our idea of fun in the Florida sun.

Lee and I hope you all enjoy our Grilled Lettuce recipe. Since we have lettuce growing in a planter this recipe is easy; we just pick, wash and grill. This makes a nice light dinner or a wonderful accompaniment to chicken or fish, especially when you serve Florida fresh fruit for dessert.


2 Heads Romaine Hearts or 2 Large Radicchio Heads Halved Lengthwise
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 cup mizuna or baby mustard greens
½ cup crème fraiche
2 avocados, cut in quarters
1 fresh lemon juice
Flaky sea salt
Prepare grill on medium high heat. Brush cut sides of lettuce with a few tbsp Olive Oil, season with salt and pepper and Grill lettuce cut side down just until lightly charred, about 2 minutes.
Toss greens with 1 Tbsp Olive Oil in a medium bowl, season with kosher salt. Dollop crème fraiche on a platter, top with grilled lettuce and avocado, scatter greens over. Drizzle with lemon juice and a bit more Olive Oil, season and serve.

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Welcome to Summer in Central Florida

A time for us all to kick back, take things a bit slower, and let the heat of the day be our guide. Solivita is settling in to a quiet time, the snowbirds have flown the nest and we can all settle into warm afternoons relaxing at the pool, fishing in the ponds, and quiet evenings shared with friends and family. The days are easy and the Solivita events less crowded. I love the winter and all the fun and action the snowbirds bring to Solivita and Central Florida, but I find this time of the year a great time to recharge my batteries and enjoy the quiet beauty of our surroundings. The garden is happy, although it does require a lot of water and love, it is bountiful and is a big part of the reason we relocated to Florida.

Solivita has a flourishing Community Garden downtown near the Ballroom. It is the perfect place to grow produce, learn new garden tricks, and make friends. In the past we had lots of luck with our plot and met lots of great folks while tending our garden. In fact, our yield last year was so large that upon leaving the garden each day we followed a delivery route and shared our produce with friends and family. The Solivita Community Garden is the best, the beds are raised, water is accessible, fellow garden members are always quick to help with any questions or concerns and surrounding the garden is a fence, so our local four-legged friends do not eat our produce before we do.
Life in Solivita is a pleasure, there is always something to do and someone to share the fun with. If gardening is not your thing, no worries, Solivita has over 200 clubs to join, pools to enjoy, golf courses to play on, state of the art exercise facilities, walking trails, running tracks, tennis, basketball, fishing, seminars, classes, movies, entertainment, plus, much more. Solivita is a wonderful place to live, play, and work (if you choose), while enjoying all the benefits of life in the sunshine of Central Florida. We invite you to experience our beautiful community, meet the neighbors, ask questions and enjoy a few days of life as a local. It is easy and affordable, just visit our website, and check out Discovery Days. Call me, together we will arrange for your visit and accommodations in Solivita. I will be happy to show you the next step to uncovering how wonderful life in Solivita is. Let the adventure begin!
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Day Trip Time – Memorial Day Monday

As the days become longer and the temperatures rise; I find myself longing for a day at the beach. A perfect summer day with the wind gently blowing, the surf calm, and the water warm. We are going to take a day off and drive over to Cocoa Beach for the day. An easy drive from Solivita. I am Looking forward to spending the morning on the beach and the afternoon enjoying a fresh fish sandwich. A perfect day in the Florida sun. Blue sky, no dishes, no clean up, no fuss, a day of pure enjoyment. Lee and I are taking off on our own and running away for the day. We are going to bring an empty cooler with us and hope to return with some delicious Florida fresh fish. We wish you all a Memorial Day filled with joy and beauty.
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National Wine Day

Memorial Day in Solivita preceded by National Wine Day

Memorial Day Weekend starts with National Wine Day on May 25th. Apparently, Wine Day was declared a National Holiday awhile back, but with my busy work schedule, I am only hearing about it now. Do not misunderstand me, it is not wine that I am just hearing about, but rather the national holiday. The literature states National Wine Day should not be confused with National Drink Wine Day, another holiday not on my calendar but certainly one I will embrace next year. Wine is a good way to kick off the Memorial Day weekend celebration. So, in the spirit of the holiday, Lee and I will buy a bottle of wine and send GOOD HEALTH and GOOD WISHES to all of you from Bella Verde Realty Team, in Solivita, and from our favorite wine bar; Vintage Vino in downtown Kissimmee.
We love to go to downtown Kissimmee. We enjoy the events; the parades, street fairs, music on weekends, nice restaurants, a walk in the park, and a good glass of wine at Vintage Vino. John has been running Vintage Vino, a casual local spot, for 10 years; he is a great host, knowledgeable and fun to share an evening with. The Wine Bar is unique and the perfect place to start a night, end a night or spend a night. The atmosphere is inviting, and the wine selection inspired. Try a glass of wine, a flight of wine, a charcuterie platter, or schedule a wine class with John. Lee and I have gone to school at Vintage Vino, it is fun, tasty and at the end instead of you making the grade, you grade the wine. We purchased a few bottles of wine after our last class and together enjoyed every drop. We are fortunate, Vintage Vino is only a short drive from Solivita and a great place to kick back and relax with friends. You can visit John in downtown Kissimmee or on his website at
A few Fun Wine Facts to share on National Wine Day

  1. If you drink wine for antioxidants, note wine only has 1/10 of the antioxidants of soy sauce, but who wants to drink soy sauce.
  2. The states of FLORIDA, NEW YORK and CALIFORNIA lead the U.S. in wine consumption.
  3. Not all wines improve with age, unlike all of us living life in Solivita.

I am passing along some good advice I received a long time ago. Unfortunately, the source is unknown, but the advice is good: Wine a little and laugh a lot.
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Memorial Day

Now that Wine Day has kicked off the weekend right, it is time to truly celebrate and remember those who have died in service to our nation. It is the day each year Americans pay tribute to the brave men and woman who gave their life for the freedoms we enjoy every day. Growing up, our small town held an annual Memorial Day Parade. The veteran’s organizations would march, the local high school band would strike up a tune, the scout troops would put on their uniforms and pay tribute to our veterans. Our local clubs and organizations would build floats, carry banners, pass out water, and decorate the park for the big town BBQ celebration held at Veteran’s Field. A wonderful salute to the memory of our brave soldiers. Memorial Day always began in prayer at the cemetery, followed by a gun salute at the Veteran’s Memorial. My dad was a proud Korean War Veteran and every Memorial Day he would put on his uniform and march in respect and gratitude to the soldiers that no longer could. For one day a year, the entire town would join in honor of our nation and gather in remembrance. It is with many thanks that today we honor and salute each soldier and their families for the sacrifices they made to give us the freedom we enjoy today.
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Mother’s Day

According to the Calendar, the month of May has three big Holidays. Mother’s Day on May 12th, National Wine Day on May 25th and Memorial Day on May 27th. Wine Day? Sounds like a great day for wine producers and wine lovers alike, although I am not quite sure any of us need to dedicate a day to celebrate wine.

The Bella Verde Team wishes every mom a happy and healthy Mother’s Day. We are going to enjoy a Mother’s Day brunch this year with my mom and, although my mom makes an awesome cheesecake, I am in charge and am making a delicious no-bake cheesecake for dessert. The cheesecake recipe follows; and I must say I love this cake, it is easy, light, and flavorful, especially when served with fresh Florida fruit. It will be a sweet ending to a delicious Mother’s Day celebration.

Makes 10 Light and Luscious Servings

Mother’s Day Cheesecake

30 vanilla wafers
3/4 c. roasted, salted almonds
4 tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 c. plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 3/4 c. cold heavy cream
1 (0.25-oz.) envelope unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 c. plain Greek yogurt
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
  1. Pulse wafers and almonds in a food processor until finely ground, 12 to 14 times. Add butter and 2 tablespoons sugar; pulse until well combined. Press mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Freeze 20 minutes or up to 1 day.
  2. Pour cream in a medium saucepan; sprinkle gelatin over top. Let stand 10 minutes. Cook cream mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is dissolved, 4 to 6 minutes. Cool 10 minutes.
  3. In a clean food processor, process yogurt, cream cheese, vanilla, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup sugar until smooth, about 1 minute. Add cream mixture and process until well combined.
  4. Pour filling into crust and smooth with a rubber spatula. Cover pan with plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 6 hours or up to 2 days.

I top this delicious cheesecake with fresh strawberries, blueberries and a bit of mint from my garden.