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Restaurant Review: 7593 Chop House, 7593 Gathering Drive at Reunion Resort

Lee recently took me to the Chop House for my Birthday Dinner, and we had a Delicious Date Night Out. Steak, lamb chops, signature cocktails, a good wine list, creamy garlic mashed potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, and grilled asparagus.  The restaurant is a relaxed, comfortable space and while dining we enjoyed a piano playing in the background. The night was fun in this high-end spot that is decorated with a celebrity golf theme. The waitstaff was helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable. In the past, Lee and I both enjoyed celebration meals in Forte, the former restaurant in this location.  After dinner in the Chop House we both feel we have found our “Forte Replacement Restaurant.”  I would not call this restaurant a Tuesday Night Dinner Spot, but on a special occasion, this is an excellent choice for a wonderful evening out.

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Current Housing Market

The current housing market is still strong but is showing signs of cooling off, driven by climbing interest rates.  The number of active listings and the length of time homes are on the market are climbing along with the interest rates, but homes are still selling at fair prices.  Predictions are that the housing market is beginning to reset to a more buyer-friendly direction.  Two factors driving our successful current housing market is that we are in an incredibly strong labor market driving wages up. Higher wages keep folks working later into their careers and the big plus; the current business environment offers folks the ability to negotiate remote working situations.  Lately we have sold homes to multiple clients who move to Solivita and work remotely. Every client has said “It is Nice to work in the sunshine of Florida”, plus all are looking forward to a winter without a snowy commute.  One of my clients said they love the ability to swim in the early morning or late afternoon while working remotely and maintaining a salary. Nice Gig and a Great way to ease into retirement. Lee and I are Looking forward to seeing you at the pool with your laptop.

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Make Your Home Welcoming

Have you ever entered someone’s home and immediately felt relaxed and comfortable? What is it that makes the difference between homes that exude an immediate sense of welcome and hospitality, and those that may not? Is it the home environment, or the host? In my experience, both play an important role. Whether you entertain occasionally, or just want to be prepared for the pop-in visitor, below are a few WELCOME tips from our Bella Verde Realtors. 

Declutter your space.  If you feel comfortable in your home so will your guests.  File your paperwork away, declutter your kitchen counters, stow your gear away in the garage, or make space in your closet. Tackle your most visible spaces first.  This way whenever company walks into your home, you are comfortable and will welcome guests with open arms. Your house does not need to be spotless just orderly. 

Is your sofa, chair or ottoman looking tired? A great trick to clean up your well-worn but loved furniture is by buying a new, textured neutral throw and draping it appropriately.   On the couch a throw will cover a multitude of spills or stains.  If you need to cover a sin or two on your ottoman, artfully drape your throw, and stage a wooden tray over it. You can also add a few coasters and your remote controls to give the tray purpose. Now with one simple throw and bit of flair you have just moved from messy to orderly. 

Warm up your spaces with accent pillows.  Accent pillows bring color and texture into any room giving a dated couch a fresh look or accentuating the season.  New accent pillows are a great way to freshen up a space. 

Fresh Flowers always brighten up a space and if they have a scent even better.  Not one to maintain fresh flowers, no worries, plant a few pots filled with succulents.  Scatter pots of succulents around your home, they bring life and beauty into your space and are easy to maintain.

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Disney Food and Wine Fest July – November 19th

Enjoy Globally Inspired foods from around the world. 

Stone Crab Festivals.  Lots of Florida Towns host Annual Stone Crab Festivals and not only are they fun but tasty too. Visit Dunedin for their festival is on October 26

Or

Frenchy’s for their Stone Crab Weekend.  October 28 – 29th.  Clearwater Beach closes Baymont Street for this festival.  Enjoy fresh off the boat claws, live music and fun at the block party from 12 noon to 10 pm on Friday and Saturday.  

Or

Head to Naples and help to Celebrate Stone Crab Season on the waterfront October 28 – 30th. Free water taxis will transport you to all the waterfront locations that participate in the festival in Tin City, Downtown Naples. 

Just in case you missed the Oktoberfest Celebrations, Florida has a sizeable assortment of German Restaurants for you to Celebrate the Bounty of Oktoberfest year-round.  Try Hollerbach’s in Sanford for their official celebration in Downtown Sanford 

Or

Any Saturday or Sunday visit Yalaha Bakery in Howey in the Hills. If you go on a weekend afternoon enjoy music on the patio while dining on an authentic German Lunch from the Deli.  Don’t forget to Pick up a delicious German Pastry to take home and enjoy later in the day.  Self-Serve but worth the wait.

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Welcome to the Weather we wait for Season.

Not cool yet, but in another 5 or 6 weeks we are in for a wonderful warm fall and winter season. Every year I love Florida Weather more and more. No need for a winter coat, boots, or gloves.  Our sky is always blue, but in the cooler weather the air is filled with a fresh, tropical breeze and our skies are evening skies are clear and star studded. I do like the summer but find the fall and winter to be my favorite time of the year. This is the time of year to enjoy outdoor pursuits, walks in the woods and a time in the garden. Our trees and plants take a deep breath too and bloom with abandon in the fall and winter. We are all getting ready to welcome back our snowbird friends and the flocks of birds that winter with us each year.

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Recipe: Baked Olive Trio

  • ½ cup Gaeta Olives, pitted
  • 1 jar Greek Seasoned Pitted Olives about 12 oz
  • 1 jar Imported Pitted Castelvetrano Olives about 12 oz.
  • ½ Lemon sliced
  • 5-6 fresh Rosemary Springs, with leaves from two springs chopped.
  • 1 Tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Ground Black pepper to taste.

Preheat your oven to 400.  Combine the olives, lemons, chopped rosemary, olive oil and pepper until evenly coated.  Spread in a baking sheet, add the remaining rosemary springs.  Bake for 20 minutes, until olives are shriveled.  Serve Warm with a baguette.  

This is an easy appetizer and always is the hit of the party.  Add a dish of Florida peppers roasted and dressed with olive oil, S & P and garlic and you really have a happy party.

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It is Fund Raiser Time. We are proud to state that for the 6th Year Bella Verde Realty is Sponsoring the ONE PLUS ONE Gift Giving Drive for the Guardian ad Litem & Foster Children of Osceola County.

Bella Verde Realty will match every gift or gift card donated.  You give One Gift and the Children will get two.  Every year the gift drive gets bigger and bigger.  Last year Bella Verde Donated a check for $3,000.00 plus with your help over 500 gifts.  Please bring an unwrapped gift or gift card to the Bella Verde Offices at 149 Bell Tower Xing in Solivita.

Donations are kindly accepted from 10/16/22 – 12/6/22.    To Date we are proud to say that with your help we have contributed over $20,000.00 in gifts and financial assistance to the Guardian ad Litem Program.  Let’s keep up the good work and help to make the Holidays Bright for these kids.

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Fun Facts about Florida

Florida is the largest producer of citrus fruits in the US and much of our citrus harvest goes into juice making. In addition, Florida leads the world in producing grapefruit.  Interesting, makes you wonder why they are so expensive in our local markets. 

Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the 3rd Largest freshwater Lake located completely within the US.  For those that are curious, Lake Michigan and Alaska’s Iliamna Lake are one and two.

Florida is the flattest state in the U.S., But I had a feeling you already knew this one.

Florida has the highest percentage of folks over 65 years of age in the US.  One quarter of older Americans live in 3 states; California, Florida, and Texas. If you are a Solivita Resident, you have found the perfect community and state to live a wonderful life in retirement.

Well, now that You Know some additional Florida facts. We invite you to come down and visit to see for yourself how good life can be in Central Florida in the Award-Winning Community of Solivita.

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PIZZA ANYONE?

Lee and I came from NY and NJ and have had Pizza from Rome to Florida with many slices in between. Fact – each time we are up north we cannot leave without taking a trip to Connecticut to visit Frank Pepe’s Pizza or Sally’s in New Haven. Pepe’s for the Clam Pie and Sally’s for the Tomato Pie. We have had a few good slices in Florida, but now we have found some great slices at Pizza Bruno, a delicious out of the way spot in the Hourglass District of Orlando. Casual, Delicious, bubbling hot wood fired pizza, with a tasty crust, a nice craft beer selection on tap, decent wine, and the perfect spot to spend an easy weekend afternoon. The restaurant is comfortable, industrial with concrete floors, high ceilings and long wooden tables but it is the smell of the wood-fired pizzas cooking in the oven that grabs you first. The pizza is done my favorite way, thin crust, well done, with a bit of char and smoke. Pizza Bruno has some interesting and creative flavors, Lee’s personal favorite is the Peach Pie, a bubbly hot pie with fresh peaches, artisan made cheese, Nueske’s bacon and topped with arugula. My favorite is the Ninety Two with fresh mozz, Italian sausage, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, red onions, olives, oregano, chili flakes and pecorino. But I do not think there is a pizza in the oven here you will not enjoy. Of course, Bruno’s cooks up traditional pizzas too, or you can always create your own. Pizzas are not the only items on the menu, but I cannot imagine a reason you would want to order anything else. In fact, Pizza Bruno makes so many pies, that they have two wood fired ovens burning. Interesting menu, great concept, and a nice experience. On our first visit we were greeted like old friends and that welcome has continued to this day. They do have dining outside, but not in the rain, as the patio roof currently has a leak. Insider Tip – If you go on Monday, the Pizza Margherita is on special.   You can visit Pizza Bruno 7 days a week, dinner only Monday to Friday but open from 11 -10 on weekends. Pizza Bruno is at 3990 Curry Ford Road, Orlando. If you have tickets for a show at the Plaza Live Theatre on Bumby Ave., Pizza Bruno is a good spot to enjoy dinner before the show. Drive time is about an hour and ten minutes and the good news is you do not even have to take I4 to get there. Mangia!

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Current Housing Market

Good News for Seller’s – We are Still in a Seller’s Market and Home prices are holding near record highs, but sales have slowed slightly. Nationwide, Redfin Reports that roughly 60,000 home purchase agreements fell through in June or about 14.9% of homes that went under contract in June. In our brokerage we have been fortunate and only had one contract cancel recently but this could be an indicator of things to come. Redfin reports this number of cancelled contracts is the highest percentage since March and April 2020 when Covid 19 ground the housing market to a halt.

There are a number of reasons that contracts fall through, inspection issues, a life event, and now the main reason, rising mortgage rates are forcing some buyers out of the market. If rates were at 5% when an offer was made but reached 5.8% by the time the deal was set to close, the buyer may no longer be in a position that allows them to qualify for a loan.Since the housing market has cooled in recent weeks, as the Federal Reserve has boosted interest rates to quell inflation, house hunters have a bit more freedom to seek concessions from sellers, but higher rates also make housing less affordable.

Bottom Line, if you find a house you love, make an offer, and joyfully enjoy your new address. Historically home values hold and if you remain in a home for over 5 years, and you love living in it, you cannot go wrong.