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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.
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Fall is Fix Up Time

Although the first section of homes constructed in Solivita are barely 20 years young, it is always fun to update your décor, redesign a room or even redesign your floorplan. Change up your space with a new coat of paint, add a feature wall, or update your flooring. Even small changes will go a long way in refreshing your home and making a positive impact on your life. My cousin Myriam has a powder bath in her home and, although it is only a small space, she felt it was time for a change. Together we have been devouring design books and powder bath ideas and she loves the look of Going Bold. We have decided on a wallpaper with a bold graphic print in black and white. I am excited to see how this look will fit her home. Wallpaper is back in a big way. From her research, wallpaper is one of the trendiest ways to add interest, color and texture to your home. Experimenting with this design idea in a small space is a win-win. If I love the look, I may consider testing it out in our home. If she can’t live with the look, the space is small, and she can close the door and redo the room when time permits. I am excited about testing out our design skills and she is looking forward to a change in design style.

Recently while showing a condo to one of our clients, we entered a master bedroom that had added a feature wall behind their headboard. I have seen feature walls using wallpaper, paint and reclaimed lumber, and have liked them all, but this homeowner had bricked their interior headboard wall. It made a huge design impact in the space. After bricking the wall, the bricks were painted gray and the room was warmed up with the addition of natural wood, chrome and leather. These homeowners were young and had designed their bedroom to be a warm and inviting space. In my design sense a brick wall leans industrial, but the look these two had achieved was contemporary and warm without a hint of industrial. Umm, it may be time to think about using brick in one of our redesigns, maybe the laundry room, or a wall in our office. It is always fun to create a new space, especially one that involves one of my favorite hobbies, shopping. Looks like it is time to get the credit card out and shop for new project ideas!!!
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Ellen and Ken’s Perfect Summer Salad *****

Good friends served this salad during dinner at their home a few months ago; and since that evening, Lee and I have been making and enjoying this salad. Refreshing and delicious!

6 cups Watermelon Cubed

½ cup good quality feta cubed or crumbled

¼ cup thinly sliced red onion

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint

3 cups arugula

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

  Toss, Serve, and Enjoy
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Orlando Magical Dining Month 2019

The last year has gone by very quickly, it is hard to believe it has been 12 months since Magical Dining Month but, here it is again. This year Magical Dining begins on August 23rd and runs to Sept 30, 2019. Each participating restaurant publishes a special 3 course menu at a discounted price. Lee and I always look through the menus and choose two or three restaurants to try during the 5 weeks of Magical Dining. Our goal is to find a few new restaurants to add to our list and during the next year enjoy the new restaurants we discovered.
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Florida Vacations

Since Solivita is a Resort Style Community, surrounded by beautiful ponds, lush conservation, wildlife, golf courses, gyms, pools, restaurants, and a plethora of activities, living in Solivita is life on vacation; but it is still fun to plan and experience a new place, even if only for a few days. Florida offers lots of spots to make a quick escape to. Do you enjoy hiking, the natural environment, beaches, or are you a lover of cites? However, and wherever you like to vacation, Florida offers something for everyone.

If it is a cityscape you are looking for, a trip to Miami may be your ticket. Miami is a great place to spend a few days and now you can hop a train to Miami. Grab a cab to the Poinciana Train Station and in Kissimmee change from the Sun Rail to the Amtrak Train and ride to Miami. A direct train from Kissimmee will land you in Miami after 6 hours of train travel. No driving, no traffic, just an enjoyable day of riding the rails. When you arrive in Miami, a quick cab to your hotel will have you enjoying dinner and a cocktail before sunset. Miami is fun, lots of nightlife, restaurants, and people watching. After a few days in the city you can hop back on the train and return to the beauty and peace of Solivita. If a city escape is not your thing, how about a camping trip to a Florida dark sky park to view the stars.

Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is surrounded by 54,000 acres of prairie and is located about 25 miles north of Okeechobee, FL. This park is internationally recognized for its lack of light pollution, the night sky above the prairie is inky black and campers can spot the milky way without using telescopes or binoculars. If you wish to star gaze, you will need to make camping reservations. Camping in the Park is not glamorous, and sorry to say but, GLAMPING accommodations are not available here. Camping at the Prairie Preserve State Park is basic, but a beautiful night gazing at stars, planets, and other celestial bodies in incomprehensible numbers, will make for an amazing experience. Jupiter and Saturn are both clearly visible in the night sky, or you may witness the International Space Station making its orbit around the earth. In my book, a beautiful evening dominated by a dark starry sky is an unforgettable experience and worth one night of sleeping in a tent. Of course, if camping is not your idea of a night away, visit the park in the daylight and enjoy the largest remaining tract of Florida dry prairie that exists. Many rare, threatened, and endangered species call this park home and you will have ample opportunity to catch sight of a grasshopper sparrow, crested caracara or a burrowing owl. During the fall and winter, the park offers ranger led prairie buggy tours to the remote areas. You will see spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife on the 2 – 3 hour adventure. Tours are offered from the first weekend in November to the end of March on Weekends. To avoid disappointment, please call ahead to reserve this tour.

After an evening in the woods, it is time to hit a hotel, enjoy a nice hot shower, and lay my bones on a beach. Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park is not too far from the east or the west coast beaches of Florida, so you have lots of options. There is just so much to do in Florida, I hope I do not run out of retirement and my adventurous spirit before I have ticked off every box on my Florida Bucket List.
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Guardian ad Litem Needs Volunteers in Poinciana and Bella Verde Realty is helping to get the word out.

Florida’s children need you now more than ever, especially in the Poinciana/Kissimmee area. Volunteers make a difference in a child’s life. The GAL Program is currently seeking volunteers to help advocate for the best interests of abused, neglected and abandoned children in the Dependency Court. With a GAL Volunteer, a child is half as likely to languish in the foster care and child welfare system, and more likely to find a safe, permanent home. Bella Verde Realty is on the team and you can be too. Join our team and make a real difference in a child’s life.

Please reach out to Bella Verde Realty and let us know how you can help.

Thank you to all of our friends and clients who purchased and donated back to school clothing for the children in the Guardian ad Litem Program. On August 2nd Nancy from the GAL Office came by and picked up dozens of outfits, shorts, shoes, shirts, socks, and dresses for the children. We even had a new baby well kit and diaper bag for a new GAL mom. The clothing ranged in sizes for children from kindergarten to high school. What a beautiful gift from the BVR Angels. Thank you BVR Angels for your kindness and generosity -  lots of GAL children will be wearing new clothes and shoes to start the school year.

Contact our office to reach out to GAL and become a volunteer for this great community program. Bella Verde Realtors, serving the community with pride and support since 2001! Come join the blessings!