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Tahini Cookies for Santa

This year I am adding a new cookie to my Holiday Baking. Lee Loves Tahini and I love Sesame, combined they become Tahini Sesame Cookies. My mom always makes Sesame Cookies, so I will still have Mom’s Sesame Cookies, but now we have another new treat to add to Santa’s Cookie Platter.

Tahini Sesame Cookies – An Easy, Delicious Christmas Cookie for the Adults.

Think Peanut Butter Cookie for a Sophisticated Palate!

2 Cups AP Flour
1 Tsp. Baking Powder
½ Tsp. Kosher Salt
¾ Cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
¾ cups sugar
3 Tbsp. Honey
¾ Cup Tahini
¼ Cup Toasted Sesame Seeds

Step 1 Place racks in upper and lower thirds of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Use an Electric Mixer on Medium speed to beat butter, sugar, and honey in a large bowl till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in tahini, then add dry ingredients in 2 batches, beat after each addition until fully combined. Dough will be slightly sticky.

Step 2 Place sesame seeds in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough (about 1 oz) and roll into balls. Dip tops of balls in sesame seeds, pressing to adhere, and place sesame side up, on parchment lined baking sheets, spacing about 2” apart. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets halfway through, until golden brown, about 13 – 15 minutes. Let cook on baking sheets (cookies will firm up as they cool). This recipe will make about 24 Cookies.
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The One Plus One Giving Program

The One Plus One Giving Program for Foster Children in the Guardian ad Litem Program Kissimmee, FL



Bella Verde Realty, our Clients, Friends, and our Family came out to support the Foster Children in our GAL SPONSORSHIP PROGRAM. Thank you all. Friends, clients, neighbors, and family came out strong by showing their gratitude for the good life we live and gave generously. Bella Verde Realty did not publicize this annual collection as we did not want to add stress, or potentially expose any of our generous donors during COVID-19. We want you all to know that we did not forget the GAL Children and neither did you. Without us even asking, friends, neighbors, and clients put the GAL Kids on their Annual Holiday List and dropped off gifts and donations. AMAZING! We are blessed, Bella Verde Realty received calls, had folks stop by with donations and we even had a few clients mail donations to us. Thank You All for giving so generously. A Big Thank you goes out to everyone who remembered the kids. SOLIVITA is a GREAT Community, full of GREAT FOLKS and a Community we are happy and proud to live and work in. On December 1st the Girls from GAL picked up two giant carloads of gifts for the Guardian ad Litem Program in Kissimmee, plus cash donations. This collection, like everything else that occurred in 2020 was subdued, but the collection was substantial and will help to make Christmas 2020 a bright spot in the lives of these special children. Happy Holidays!!!
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Our Holiday Wishes

Happy Holidays to All our Friends, Family, Clients and Neighbors. Happy to say that we at Bella Verde Realty have safely made it through 2020. We are sad to see how many World Citizens have been affected by COVID-19 and we send prayers for those souls that have left us this year and the families and friends they have left behind. We pray for an end to this Pandemic and look for a brighter 2021.

Every December, we sponsor a party for our Bella Verde Realtors, we gather to share a wonderful meal, dance, and celebrate the Season, while we draft our Holiday Messages to our clients. This year, unfortunately due to COVID-19, we are delaying our gathering until a safer time but we are not delaying our best wishes to all our clients, friends, and readers, therefore below are a few of the Holiday Messages from our group:

Wishing you the best during this Festive Time of the Year. Be Safe, Have Fun, Cherish your Family, Friends and Significant Others. If this Year Taught us anything, it is that “we are all in this together and together we will all get through this”. May God Bless you and your family with Health and a Happy New Year! Lorraine & Lee

To my Solivita Neighbors and Friends
This is a holiday season like no other.. Zoom family gatherings will be the norm this year… Zoom this year, and, maybe next year, we can all be together in person! Stay safe, stay home, and stay in touch with us! Wishing all a warm holiday season with lots of peace, love, and affection!!
Gloria S Cherry

May this Joyous Season bring you peace, health, harmony, and happiness throughout 2021! Enjoy Christmas with your loved ones. FELIZ NAVIDAD!" Miguel Elvira

Wishing everyone Peace, prosperity, and good health as we turn the page on a new year. Kathy Russo

May your holidays be filled with PEACE and the future with HAPPINESS. I appreciate the support of my buyers and sellers throughout this difficult year. Adapting my business model to accommodate the virtual viewing of homes & protecting clients was & continues to be paramount to me & Bella Verde Realty. I look forward to a FUTURE of handshakes & smiling FACE to FACE. Be safe & be well. Pat Plumstead, Seniors Real Estate Specialist

To all my clients who placed their trust and confidence in my real estate services this year, I want to, once again extend a heartfelt thank you. Although this year has certainly been challenging my sincere belief is that, as with all significant challenges our country has faced throughout its history, due to the spirit of our people we will see this current situation through as well. So, from my family to yours I want to wish you all a blessed holiday season and a bright, prosperous, healthy, and happy 2021! Doug Bennett

Joy and I would like to wish all Solivitians a happy and healthy holiday season. We all need to look forward to a prosperous and Covid19 free 2021. We have all learned from the trials and tribulations of this past year that if we stick together and do the right thing, we can overcome anything. Stay healthy and always think of family first. Happy New Year. Marty & Joy Cohn

To all my dear friends, past, and future happy clients:
Hoping your Holidays are filled with love, family, happiness, and cheers to 2021!
Vicky Arenas 

Sending Good Holiday Wishes to all our Friends, Family, Neighbors, and our Neighbors yet to be. We Hope the Joy of the Holidays will be a blessing to you all and We Wish Each of our Readers Good Health, Happiness and Prosperity in 2021. The Bella Verde Office Team
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Explore the USA from your Lanai

Last year we celebrated Christmas in St. Augustine with family and friends, but this year, due to COVID-19, we are staying close to home. Lee and I feel that some of Florida’s best adventures are found out of doors in the lovely natural environment. A walk in the woods, the park, or a walk on one of the many boardwalks or beaches, all make for great socially distanced days. Did you know that Florida has a town called Christmas? If not, this may be the perfect time to take a ride and visit Christmas, Florida. Christmas is a real town located between Orlando and Cape Canaveral and was given the name “Christmas” in 1837 during the Seminole War. The locals host lots of activities and exhibit lots of Holiday Spirit. If the grandkids are with you, Visit the Christmas Post Office and post a letter to Santa. Lee and I recently enjoyed a visit to the Fort Christmas Historical Park. It was a break from the usual. Very casual but enjoyable. We packed a picnic, a few books, and enjoyed a walk around the reconstructed fort. Picnic tables and BBQ’s are available, plus a playground for the grandchildren. During COVID-19, we both feel the best way to enjoy a nice day, while being safe, is to enjoy a day out in the beautiful fresh air that blows through Florida all winter long. Following is a link I think you will enjoy. It is a great source for exploring the US, and a great source for exploring Florida. Once you have gone to ScenicUSA.net, go to the archives by state and explore the areas that interest you the most.

Tour America’s First National Wildlife Refuge

Nature and history combine for a unique wildlife experience in Indian River County. Indian River County is home to America’s first national wildlife refuge. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Vero Beach was the first federally protected nature reserve to be designated as a wildlife refuge. It was established by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 to protect egrets and other birds from extinction. Today, hundreds of species of animals, including birds, fish, and mammals, call this 3-acre island and its surrounding 2.5 acres of protected waters their home. You can experience this small, but important piece of history for yourself through guided and self-guided tours. Other activities on the island include fishing, environmental education programs, and three hiking trails to explore the animal and plant life on the island. Please don’t forget your camera so you can bring back memories from this incredible wildlife experience. Take a free Tram Tour with a park ranger by reservation. Visit Pelican Island Virtually to plan your visit. www.fws.gov/refuge/pelican_island

Solivita Neighborhood Activities, Socially Distanced but closer to home:

Lee and I enjoyed a Golf Cart Concert in Solivita. This was a fun event. Solivita is blessed with inventive, talented folks and a concert on a golf cart was a good way to be socially distanced and have fun while remaining safe out of doors. Easy to attend. We Grabbed a bottle of wine, our masks, and hopped on our golf cart. Our host set up in his driveway and about 10 golf carts parked 6 feet apart enjoyed a great afternoon filled with the joy of friends and the sound of music.

Take a Virtual Class on Zoom or Webex:

Recently my Mom, Sister and I took a Holiday Decorative Wreath Making Class sponsored by Brian and Richard of AtHome Design Solutions in Solivita. Brian shipped all the supplies, beautiful ribbons, and required tools to us in advance all wrapped up neatly and tied with a bow. On Class Day, Brian and Richard walked us through assembly, step by step, during a live teaching class. It was fun, creative, and a great family activity PLUS we each have a beautiful wreath to hang on our front door, AtHome is donating 10% of all class proceeds to Toys for Tots, making this class a WIN, WIN for us all. You can reach Brian and Richard at 863-496-7393 or reach out to them at www.athomedesignsolutions.com

Recently, two of our friends took an Acrylic Painting Class on line at https://learn.brit.co/collections and had a blast; plus they both feel that they discovered a bit of hidden talent within. This site has lots of online classes, and since we all seem to have a bit more downtime at home, why not cease the moment and see what talent lies within. This site has classes from business to beer making, and painting to gardening. Lots of creative ideas and classes to keep busy and entertained while staying safe.

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How To Purchase A Home Remotely

Thinking about buying a home now? Are you wondering what the best way is to accomplish this task during COVID-19? Wonder no more. The truth is during this pandemic about 40% of the homes sold in our community have been sold remotely. Of course, you can still visit with us and do in person home tours but lots of folks are not walking into their homes until the deal is done. In fact, my sister and brother in law purchased their home remotely and are loving it. Linda has said, it was fun, easy and they are both happy with their purchase.

If you know Solivita, you already know our Community. For our friends who have not yet been here to visit, Solivita is a 55 PLUS AWARD Winning, Gated Community located in Central Florida. Within our gates we have over 4,200 acres of greenspace, lakes, ponds, conservation, tennis courts, 14 pools, two 18 hole championship golf courses, a driving range, pickleball, softball courts, bocce ball, horseshoes, a community garden, entertainment, restaurants, a library, art studio, and a downtown area. We have two state of the art exercise facilities with trainers, the latest equipment, a spa, and a friendly, fun atmosphere. Drive your golf cart all over the community, join any of our 200 Plus clubs, take a class, make friends, and just enjoy life in Style. Solivita is safe, fun, and beautiful.

If you are considering purchasing a home in our community sight unseen, I can promise you, you cannot go wrong if you keep the following tips in mind:

Work with a knowledgeable agent. Buying remotely, you must depend on your agent to be your eyes and ears; pick a local expert. Every Bella Verde Realtor is a Solivita expert. We all live, work and love it here. We will be your neighbors, so we promise to steer you in the right direction.

Ask to see the various floorplans, so you can feel the flow of the house while we remotely walk you through. Bella Verde Realty will take you on a virtual home tour, giving you the true feeling of each of the homes that fit your criteria. We will not only walk you through the floorplan and home you are looking at, but we will also share the views from the front and rear of “your home” with you. Plus, we will provide community insights to you too.

Remember, Florida has no state income tax, our property taxes are at the national average, but once you are a Florida Resident, you can file for a homestead exemption greatly reducing your Florida Property Taxes. Florida also has low Energy Costs. Our Solivita Homes are energy efficient, as our homes range from new builds to resale homes with the oldest home in our community twenty years young. If we have a cold winter in Florida, it lasts for a week or two, keeping your heating costs to a minimum. Our Electric Costs are lower than the average, our HVAC Units are efficient and inexpensive to run making our cooling and heating costs reasonable. Twenty Years Ago, Lee and I moved to Florida from NJ. Fact is, our monthly electric costs to operate our Solivita home today are still lower than our electric costs were in NJ twenty years ago.

Solivita New and Resale Home Inventory is at HISTORIC LOW LEVELS, Don’t wait, buy now to assure your Retirement Future. Solivita is the place to be, away from the city, safe within our gates, infrastructure complete (no need to wait to see what will be), lots of fun activities and the beauty of nature. What more could you ask for, Solivita is the Perfect Retirement Community!!! Start your search today by walking through our website.

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Ready to Relocate and Buy a Home?

Read the below article first, to help make your search successful and frustration free.

1. Get Pre-Approved

You must be pre-approved if you are planning to finance a home. This is an important step to help you move forward, whether you are buying a home virtually or in person. You can pre-arrange a lender or Ask your Bella Verde Agent for a good lender, our realtors have worked with many lenders and can point you in the right direction to help you find a lender that will deliver for you.

2. Determine Your Wants and Your Needs

Make a list of your must-haves and a second list of your negotiables. For example, your must have list should include the town or area of interest, the number of bedrooms, Square footage, should your new community be gated, do you want a garage, are you looking in a 55 Plus Active Community and so on. If you are working from home, a home office may also be a priority.

Next make a list of the items you would like but may be willing to trade off. These items can be a view, lot size, pool, lanai size, powder bath, etc.

Once you have determined the above and discussed this with your realtor the search is on. Inventory is low in Solivita, but knowing what you are looking for, will help us target the perfect home for you and eliminate homes that will not work. Every Bella Verde Realtor lives and works in Solivita. We know the Community, the Neighborhoods, and every floorplan therefore will target your needs and wants and find you the home of your dreams. Bella Verde Realtors do an extensive amount of research for you and will view all homes with you that fit your wants and desires. If you are looking to purchase a home virtually, we will be happy to conduct virtual tours of the homes that you desire to view. In fact, during this time of COVID-19 we have shown and sold many homes virtually to clients from all over the country.

Although Bella Verde Realtors are the busiest and most successful realtors in Solivita, we do not only sell Solivita, we successfully market and sell homes, condos, and townhomes in Poinciana, Kissimmee, Orlando, plus the Taylor Morrison Communities of Bellalago, Vitalia at Tradition, and Port St. Lucie. We also have Realtor Contacts Statewide; should your search take you outside of our area of expertise we will be happy to refer you to a realtor we know and trust in Florida.
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Socially Distanced Thanksgiving Dinner

Looks like this year, Thanksgiving Dinner may be just the immediate family, we will socially distance at a table for 12 with only 5 of us. The shopping and cooking sure will be easy, but even if we cook the smallest turkey, we will be eating Turkey for days. After all, even while working, COVID-19 has given us a bit of extra time to contemplate life and enjoy the simple pleasures! Thanksgiving has always been, for me, a time when we gathered with friends and family. My Mom and Dad started the tradition years ago, their table would groan under platters of Traditional, Lovingly Prepared food. It would not be unusual for 25 – 30 of us to gather to share a Thanksgiving Meal. Sadly, most of those folks are no longer here to share the table with us, but I bring those early experiences and happy memories with me to every Thanksgiving Celebration. This year Lee and I, Mom and my sister and brother will eat, drink, and express our gratitude for our beautiful life, wonderful family, good friends, and great clients and neighbors. We will pray for the world to be free of Covid-19 and life for us and our fellow world citizens to be safe and disease free once again.

I do not know how big the turkey may be, but I do know I am going to roast asparagus, serve mashed potatoes, plus the family all-time favorites. Mashed Potatoes is a must on our table, without them, where would you put your gravy? I think we may try a new stuffing and it will be the recipe below. To start dinner, a simple but delicious blue cheese stuffed date wrapped in prosciutto and baked in the oven for 8-10 minutes.

Cauliflower Stuffing Recipe Follows, gluten free, and tasty
8 -12 oz sage flavored pork sausage
3 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil or butter
1 medium onion chopped
2 ribs celery chopped
12 medium mushrooms sliced
¼ cup chopped carrots
2 pounds cauliflower, cut into small florets
¾ cup chicken broth
¼ cup dried cranberries or one apple skinned, cored, and chopped.
½ tsp dried thyme leaves
¼ cup fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

If you were unable to find bulk sausage, remove the sausage from casing and break up with a fork. Place sausage in a large skillet, brown over medium high heat. Add Olive Oil or butter, stir in onion, celery, mushrooms, carrots, and the fruit of your choice, cook for 5 minutes.

Mix in cauliflower, broth, thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid is absorbed, about 5 more minutes.

This is delicious, gluten free, works as a Holiday Dressing and a Vegetable plus contains all the Thanksgiving Day Flavors. In my book, a One Dish Wonder.

Once Dinner is Done, it will be a Pumpkin Crème Brulee and homemade apple pie, followed by a good cup of coffee or hot cider by the firepit. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours.
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Quick Tips for Growing Veggies in Your Own Home during COVID-19

Produce is expensive and easy to waste. Stop tossing the scraps and try planting them. The result is fun and easy, plus it may save you a trip to the store.

To Grow Green Onions. Once you master this trick you will never buy a green onion again. Just hang on to the white part of the onion with the roots left. Use about ½ inch of water and place the onion in a short glass on your counter. These onions grow up not out, so start with a short glass and move it to a taller glass when necessary.

Celery. I learned this from a friend. Celery is a pretty plant and easy to grow. While visiting with a friend I stopped to admire a plant on her front porch, turns out, it was celery. Cut off the bottom two inches of the base of the celery stalk (where all the stalks meet) and place in a bowl with ½ inch of water. In a few days you will see growth in the center of the plant. Transplant the entire plant to a pot and watch it grow till ready to pick.
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Getting Away from the Everyday Stress while Staying Safe

Explore a local park, enjoy a hike, or a just take a walk on one of the many trails sprinkled throughout Florida. The following website is a great resource for finding great trails for hiking, biking, or for finding great spots for a canoe, kayak ride, or a good campground. This site includes spots where you can rent a canoe or a kayak. Florida has some beautiful outdoor spaces, perfect for a Social Distance Get Away. https://floridahikes.com/bike-trails

Make a Virtual Visit to the National Zoo in Washington, DC and check up on the residents. The Giant Panda is amazing and so is her new baby. He is little, cute, growing, and now we know he is a Boy! Enjoy watching and listening to him as he grows up big and strong. Watch mom on the webcam as she cares for him. The zoo has live webcams and some great footage of many of the animals they care for. What a great opportunity to enjoy the zoo, and safely visit with the animals up close from the comfort of your home. https://nationalzoo.si.edu/animals/news Visiting the zoo virtually is a peaceful way to safely enjoy a new experience. When COVID is gone, and it will be, perhaps you may find a new place to visit or a new addition to your bucket list.

Enjoy a Dinner Date in Your Own Home
Lee and I planned a celebration dinner for two. I set our table with our best linen, dishes, and silverware. Lee chose the wine, plated, and served chilled shrimp, while I prepared our entree. Dinner was simple, Omaha Steak did all the work, all we had to do was defrost, heat, and serve. Together we made a salad and shared a lovely evening. Dinner was delicious and easy with little clean up. Frankly, it really did feel like a night out and our meal was probably better than we would have enjoyed had we really gone out. Instead we relaxed, enjoyed a good bottle of wine, had some laughs, listened to the music of our choice and together we shared a memorable, safe night. In fact, we enjoyed our “Dinner Out In” so much that next week we are “going out” to dinner again in our own dining room.
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Celebrate Fall on Your Lanai

2020 Sure has been a Crazy, Different Year for us all. A year filled with experiences, and threats (real or imagined) that until 2020 only existed in Horror Flicks. We remain “Solivita Strong”, 11 months in, and looking forward to celebrating Fall and the Thanksgiving Holiday.
Lee and I have a firepit that we light on dark, quiet nights, when the heat of summer is behind us, and our temperatures dip in the evenings. In the fall spirit, while sitting by our firepit, we are enjoying an Apple Cider Mojito. A quiet evening, listening to the sounds of the conservation, and enjoying a few moments together is a lovely way to wind down at the end of the day while socially distancing. We send good wishes and warm toasts to all our friends, clients, and family. Lee and I invite you to come to Solivita and share in the good life that Central Florida Offers.
Our Cider Mojito is easy to make. Fill two glasses with ice. Add the juice of ½ a lemon to each glass. Top each glass with ¼ cup gold rum, fill the glass ¾ way up with cider and top each with a splash of seltzer. We garnish our Mojito with mint, thyme, a slice of apple and or a cinnamon stick. We have thyme and mint in our lanai garden, so for us, we just pick a few sprigs and drop them in our drink. We usually enjoy our Fall Mojito in Jelly Jar Glasses for extra fun.