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St. Patrick’s Day

Corned Beef, Green Beer, Irish Soda Bread, The Wearing of the Green, Clover; St. Patrick’s Day is the Perfect Way to Greet Spring. May the Luck of the Irish be with us all as we wait for the Pandemic to disappear and our lives to return to normal. Thank you to the caring Solivita Team, every resident over 65 was offered the COVID-19 Vaccine right here in our own community.

Solivita did a wonderful job and deserves a big Thank You. I know I thanked the Solivita Team last month in our newsletter, but I felt they deserved a second shout out for a job well done. Again, this year, St. Patrick’s Day will be a low-key event in our family as we are still distancing for our safety, the safety of our friends, our clients, and our community. Must admit we are feeling the seeds of adventure emerge, and I am starting to think that by year’s end we will be planning a few days away from the Safety of the “Solivita Campus”.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to You All.

“May Your Troubles Be Less and Your Blessings be More and Nothing but Happiness Come Through Your Door”.
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Virtual/Online Classes

If you are not quite ready to take a trip to the goat farm, how about taking a Cooking Class Online from Sur La Table. You can visit Sur La Table on the web at www.surlatable.com and scroll down to the online cooking classes and take a look at their offerings. Sur La Table has online cooking classes for home chefs. These classes are not the generic video cooking tutorials you have seen, at Sur La Table, instructors host gourmet cooking classes online in real time. You can ask questions while cooking and you can interact with the Chef. The Sur La Table Staff provides you with a prep packet and a shopping list beforehand so you can follow along with live online cooking classes in your own kitchen. At the end of each interactive session, you will have a delicious meal to enjoy. Classes are for beginners and experts and cover all kinds of cuisine. Enjoy some “me time” in the kitchen with Sur La Table, learn a new skill, and have fun time that ends with a good dinner, or involve your partner in this activity and enjoy a fun date afternoon without leaving home. Online classes start at just $29.00 per household.
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Watermelon and Goat Cheese Salad

¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
¼ Tsp Salt
Ground Pepper to taste
4 cups Spring Mix Greens
4 cups seedless watermelon cut into 1 inch pieces
4 oz or as much as you prefer of goat cheese
½ cup toasted hazelnuts or toasted walnuts chopped


Whisk together the first 4 ingredients.
In a large bowl, gently toss the spring mix and watermelon together with the vinaigrette and before servicing top with goat cheese and nuts.

For a different taste, this salad would be good if you substitute the greens with baby arugula or spinach. Next time I make this salad I am going to experiment by deleting the nuts and adding cucumbers, tomatoes, and a few olives into the mix.

Before we know it the heat of summer will be upon us, time to dust off my salad recipes and add some new salad ideas to our dinner menus.

Or you could just spread some delicious goat cheese on a cracker and munch away.

If you are not quite ready to take a trip to the goat farm, how about taking a Cooking Class Online from Sur La Table. You can visit Sur La Table on the web at www.surlatable.com and scroll down to the online cooking classes and take a look at their offerings.
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A Trip to the Goat Farm

Looking for a new experience, why not visit our Local Goat Farm; Proctor’s Goat Farm at 6291 El Camino Real, Winter Haven, FL.

Call in advance and arrange a Tour, (863) 289-3585. Proctor’s has about 18 goats for you to interact with. You can get up close and personal to the goats, have a chance to hand feed them, and perhaps milk them too. I suggest you put on a pair of jeans, pull out your hiking boots and enjoy a nice morning or afternoon in the country. This is not a dress up occasion, but rather a fun day out in nature enjoying the beauty of our surroundings. The goats are fun, friendly, quite comical and after the year we have all had who among us does not need a good laugh and an afternoon out. After you have met and enjoyed the goats make a stop into the tasting room and enjoy a taste of goat milk, goat cheese, fudge, kefir, and the ice cream that the farm produces.

In addition to tasty goat goodies, the farm also sells a few beauty products produced from goat milk, soap and lotions. Big benefit, goatmilk skin products are rumored to have the ability to soften our skin and give us all a youthful appearance. So, if trotting around with the goats does not turn you on, perhaps a youthful appearance will. I purchased some of these local items and have stashed them away, waiting for the day COVID-19 is over and guests can safely return to visit. The goat farm’s motto is “You’ll be udderly glad you stopped by” and Lee and I agree, this is a fun outing and will not disappoint.

Of course, we could not leave the goat farm without some delicious cheese. Since I love to cook, and we both enjoy all kinds of cuisine, on our way home we stopped at the farmer’s market and purchased a few goodies to accompany our goat cheese. We came home and made a delicious, tasty salad from our Farm Fresh Florida Food. Easy, light and refreshing.
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Solivita Sales Update

Advice for Buyers: We are in a Seller’s Market and Have Been for the last few months. In this seller’s market we have more homebuyers in Solivita than actual homes for sale. This type of market results in rising home prices and stiffer competition. However, even with stiff competition and rising prices, rest assured you can still buy a home here.

The experts are predicting that due to the shortage of available homes, the market will remain in the Seller’s favor throughout 2021. If you are ready to buy a home, please do not let this market deter you. Mortgage rates are low, so if you can buy a home now, jump in and take advantage of the low interest rates still being offered. A homebuyer in this market just needs to be prepared to make a strong and speedy offer upon seeing the home they desire. The speed this market is moving at can be stress inducing, thereby making it important to have a great realtor who will be at your side throughout the entire transaction. A good realtor knows how to negotiate a deal and assure the buyer gets the home they desire for a fair market value.

Advice for Sellers: With inventory historically low and home prices rising, this is a great time for any sellers to list their homes. If you have been thinking about selling your home; or waiting for prices to rise to sell your home, the time “to make your move” is now. A Bella Verde Representative will perform a complete market analysis for you at no charge, get your home listed, and sell your home quickly for a good price.

Lorraine has “Done It Again”. We are Proud to Announce for the Second Year in a Row Lorraine Valdes has been Selected as One of Orlando’s TOP 500 Realtors. Bella Verde Realty is Proud of Lorraine’s Achievement, Proud of her Industry Recognition and Proud of Every Realtor Associated with Bella Verde Realty. Bella Verde Realty is the Top Producing Real Estate Firm in Solivita, and we would be proud to work with you when selling or buying a home. Bella Verde Realtors cover Central Florida, 55 Plus Communities, Poinciana, Kissimmee, Orlando, Celebration, and our surrounding communities. Call a Bella Verde Realtor today and make an appointment to meet with us, you will be glad you did.
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News from the Lanai Garden

Our family is having a good time growing and harvesting fresh salad, spinach, celery, and herbs from our “family farm” on the lanai. My sister and her husband have multiple planters filled with good organic soil and lots of veggies. Turns out they do have green thumbs and are harvesting some amazing fresh produce. Daily they pick greens for their own use, plus have filled many salad bowls for our table. The greens are fresh, delicate, tender, and tasty. This has turned out to be a good source of veggies, we make less trips to the market, and a nice diversion from life’s stresses.

My family all seem to have green thumbs and now that most of us live in Florida we all are growing Orchids. Last year we had a bumper crop and this year, we are again looking at hundreds of potential blooms. We are counting down the days until the Orchids begin to bloom again. Over the last year we have had quite a few of our orchids sprout babies on their flower stalks. This is the first year we have had this happen, the baby plants or “keiki” will need to be removed and potted so they can continue to grow. I have been reading up on the process and in the spring, once the weather is a bit warmer and the roots a bit longer, I will jump in, cut the keiki with longest roots and pot her. If it works, I will try the rest. From all I have read, it will take a few years to see blooms, but it will be a fun growing experience.
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Florida Coast to Coast

Looking to take an easy trip, just for a change of pace, while socially distancing during the Pandemic? Look No Further. Florida has lots of great spots to visit easily and safely.

When in NY I love to People Watch, I enjoy quietly watching the NY attitudes, clothing, hairstyles, purses, couples in love and groups of friends, but we live in Florida. With social distancing people watching in NY is out of the question, so we decided to take a day to bird watch. NY is People Watch Heaven, but Florida is a bird watcher’s paradise. So many birds, so much variety, interesting and a good healthy day out.

Lee and I recently took a trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and took a walk/drive on the wild side. If you do not feel like taking a walk, just bring your camera along and take a drive. A great drive is the Black Point Wildlife Drive, it is several miles long and you will be able to photograph birds from your car without disturbing them. Lots of Ospreys hang out there, and if you stand on the shore near the entrance you may even see them catching and eating fish. If for some reason Black Point Drive is closed check out the Biolab Drive. It is several miles away from Black Point, but you will probably catch plenty of action there. You can virtually visit Merritt Island at https://www.fws.gov/refuge/merritt_island/

We enjoyed our day out and came back with some nice memories and a few decent pictures. It appears that When this Pandemic is Over, we need a photography lesson and a new camera. Of course, to see the most birdlife, it is best to get to the location before sunrise, so you are ready to photograph birds arrive early for the best light. If that doesn’t work for you, seeing and enjoying our bird population around sunset is also good. You just want to avoid Bright afternoon light as is not good for birding, nor is it good for photos. But during the Pandemic, any time of the day spent in nature, makes for a good time.
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Hanging Out Around The House

Lee and I have added lots of Indoor Plants to our home. The plants freshen the indoor air, bring clarity and calm to our space, and when placed on a shelf or tabletop act as a sculpture or a centerpiece. Caring for plants is grounding and life affirming, plus each new bloom brings a moment of joy and satisfaction. In my kitchen I always have two edible plants; basil, and parsley, outside on the lanai I grow rosemary. Each of these herbs are recipe staples in our kitchen and are ideal for creating dishes and even beverages. Lee and I both enjoy spending time in the kitchen cooking, eating, and sharing the events of our day.

Butternut Squash with Rosemary and Cinnamon

Easy and Delicious. The hardest part is peeling and cutting the squash.

1 Butternut Squash 3 – 3 1/2 Lbs. Peeled and cut into 1 inch chunks
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1 Tsp Salt
¾ Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 Tsp Black Pepper
3 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary


Toss all the ingredients together. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush a bit more Olive Oil on the Baking Sheet. Spread the squash over the baking sheet. Leave room between the pieces, as you do not want the squash to steam, therefore you may need to use two sheet pans. Roast until tender and browned on one side about 15 minutes. Turn the slices over and continue roasting for approximately another 15 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy. I have also substituted the Maple Syrup with Honey and the squash was equally delicious.
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Life During the Pandemic

Weaving our way through the Pandemic has certainly been a challenge for each of us. But, Solivita residents have proven to be strong, supportive, and resilient. Together we are getting through this. Some of our neighbors have already received the vaccine and are safer for it, plus each vaccine in a neighbor’s arm helps keep each of us safer too.

Thank You, The Solivita Team worked hard to bring the vaccine to us, and between Solivita and our local county teams we are confident that soon everyone will have access to the vaccine. Solivita Activities did a FABULOUS JOB with giving out the Covid-19 Vaccine to our residents. “Easy Peasy” and Effortless for the residents. Solivita gave out 2,600 first doses of the COVID-19 Vaccine. This Confirms it, we not only live in a Beautiful Community but a Safe Community that Cares! Thank You Solivita for helping to make us all Safer and for providing a good quality of life for those of us lucky to reside here. Everyone who wants a vaccine needs to remain strong and diligent until they are on the list and have the vaccine in their arms. This is not an easy process, but a process that is well worth the work.

Until most of the world is vaccinated it seems that life, as we knew it, will remain a distant dream allowing us to explore other, quieter, avenues for adventure. Each of us now can find the time to redecorate our homes, plant and tend to our gardens, plan our post-pandemic adventures, learn a new skill, a new language, or write that book we always dreamed about. Lee and I have friends who are taking guitar lessons on the computer, my brother-in-law is making furniture in his garage, Lee is busy perfecting his golf game, my mom is baking lots of yummy cakes and cookies, and my sister is busy in her lanai (lovingly referred to as the family farm); planting, tending, and harvesting lettuces, radish, spinach, herbs, carrots, and celery. Lessons learned from the last year, although life is quieter, it is good. Solivita offers the luxury of living life in natural surroundings with a large population of beautiful birds, wonderful folks, and interesting creatures, surrounded by lush foliage in the warmth of Central Florida. Making Life here a Win, Win for us all.

Please be safe dear friends, by the end of this year, we will all be celebrating together, and our fear of the virus will be in the rear-view mirror. Until then, please enjoy the gift of living life in our Beautiful Community.
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The Benefits of Working with a Realtor

It is important that when choosing a realtor, you choose the Right Realtor for the Job and the Right Realtor for You. I always suggest clients interview a few realtors, gain an understanding of their expertise, discuss how many homes they have closed, and understand the primary location of their agency and the locations they cover. What you wish to avoid is a realtor that is 50 or 60 miles away from your target area. You want to hire a realtor who is an expert in the area, a realtor with many contacts, a realtor with community knowledge, and lots of experience. A realtor with a home base too distant from your home will not be able to show your home promptly or meet with a potential buyer at a buyer’s convenience. In this fast-moving market, waiting a day or two is the difference between selling or buying a home, or losing a sale.

An experienced Realtor has many useful tools, contacts, interested buyers, and great marketing skills. A true industry professional will significantly reduce the time your property is on the market or the time it takes you to find your new home.

Negotiating, Renegotiating, Closing and Settling a Real Estate Purchase is an art that an experienced realtor is trained to handle. A good realtor will guide you through the process from appraisal to inspection to financing. In addition, if any issues are found at inspection a good realtor has professional tradespeople at the ready to make repairs and recommendations.

If you are selling a home, an experienced Realtor will help you determine the selling price for your property by performing a full market analysis, discuss the value of your home, the competition in your neighborhood, will advise staging tips, inexpensive decorating ideas, and helpful hints to speed up the sale of your home.

Choosing a Realtor is an Important Step in Buying or Selling so please don’t sell yourself short. Making a small investment of your time when choosing the right realtor is a smart investment that will provide you with many benefits.

Solivita Sales are Sizzling Hot, with a Limited quantity of Homes on the Market, our Market is a True Seller’s Paradise. If you are thinking of selling, now is the time, call a Bella Verde Realtor for a Free Market Analysis.