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Staying Safe from Covid in Solivita

Although Covid is still with us, life in Solivita has been good.. We have pools, activities, and fun events to attend, and with our beautiful weather, we can do almost every activity out of doors. Everyone is still playing golf, and at the end of a round we enjoy the 19th hole at one of the outdoor tables at the grill. We have taken art and photography classes outdoor; helping to keep us active, busy, and engaged while maintaining safe Covid Practices. As the experts are predicting “we may all get this thing”, but we are doing the best we can to keep safe in Solivita. Must admit, Lee and I have not attended any large gatherings indoor or eaten indoor in any restaurants, but lots of our Florida restaurants have outdoor seating, and Lee and I are enjoying every moment we can of the fresh air that is blowing through Central Florida.

Last week I ordered an Epoxy Resin Art Kit and if my mom enjoys it, I will order kits for my friends and family and share some art time outside on the lanai. Another way to stay busy while being safe. You never know, we may find that one of us, or all of us, is not only clever but talented too. LOL. We are Keeping up our Spirits, having fun, and staying healthy so together we can continue to enjoy the Good Life in Solivita.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Looking for a special gift for Valentine’s Day, may I suggest tickets to a Concert Under the Stars at BOK TOWER GARDENS on Friday, March 4, 2022.  The concert will be performed on the Oval Lawn and seating is available on a first-come basis.  Ticket holders can begin setting up at 3:00 PM.  Bring a Blanket, and or low lawn chairs and a flashlight.  Face masks must be worn when not seated in the listening area and all parties must remain at least 6 feet apart.  The March 4th Concert features ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL.  Asleep at the Wheel has been a part of the American Roots Music Landscape for over 20 years.  This band is inspired by Western Swing and honkey-tonk country, and has won 10 Grammy Awards.  The evening looks to be a fun filled event and a lovely date night.  Food and Beverages can be purchased and enjoyed on site.   If you are unfamiliar with ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL, listen to them on Youtube.com.  Their sound will have your toes tapping and your fingers dialing BOK TOWERS for tickets faster than a “cat on a mouse”.  Enjoy the Show and Happy Valentine’s Day.

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Central Florida Gardens

February is a Wonderful Month in Central Florida, our weather is amazing, our skies are blue and after the holidays our company “has left the ranch”, giving us time to “smell the roses”.

This is Camellia Bloom Time in Central Florida. These lovely blooms can reach 5” across and create a gorgeous floral display from late winter to spring.  Now is the time to enjoy the blooms, when the weather is a bit chilly, and the plants are dormant although they are actually blooming they are not in an active growth cycle.

Where can you see these lovely blooms, at Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando.  This is the perfect time of the year to take a walk in the garden, the weather is cool, and with the current Covid Surge, you can safely walk through the outdoor gardens enjoying the beauty of the season without worry.  Lots of flowers are in bloom in February and March.  This time of the year you will enjoy not only camellias, but azaleas, trumpet trees, orchid trees, sweet Osmanthus, powder puffs, and citrus trees in bloom.

Harry P. Leu Gardens is open from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m and is located at 1920 N. Forest Ave in Orlando, FL 32803.  The phone number is 407-246-2620 and until further notice Face Masks are required inside all buildings.

You may purchase admission tickets online or pay in person when you arrive at the gardens.  The gardens are self-guided, and maps are available at the Garden Home Welcome Center.  The Leu House Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am – 1 PM, The Gardens are gorgeous, and you can spend quite a few hours wandering through the 50 acres. Enjoy the impeccable grounds, the beautiful displays of blooms, the live oaks and the bamboo.  The Leu Gardens are a perfect place to stroll, relax, or to enjoy a snack in the café as you plan your own garden.

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Real Estate Sales In Solivita

We are in a Very Hot Home Market in Solivita, seems as fast as the FOR SALE SIGN is put on the lawn, we are putting up an UNDER CONTRACT SIGN. If you are thinking about selling your home, now is the time, call a Bella Verde Sales Associate to schedule a free, informative, appointment and achieve a complete market analysis of your home’s value today.

Bella Verde Sales Associates are residents of Solivita and are a wealth of knowledge about our surroundings, our HOA, our home floorplans, and the benefits life in Solivita offers. If you live in Solivita you already know, Life in Solivita is wonderful, our landscapes are manicured and maintained by the HOA, our pools are sparkling, heated and tropical, and there is always something to do. One of the folks in our office calls life in Solivita a perpetual cruise without the fear of encountering rough seas. The Reflections Magazine lands on your driveway advising you of upcoming events, concerts, dinners, classes, club meetings, activities, tours, and just fun in general. No worries, and just like a cruise you can choose to participate in all the activities, some of the activities, or none of the activities, the choice is yours. Our two 18 Hole PGA Championship Golf Courses are groomed and ready to play 12 months a year, our flowers are always blooming, our clubs are active, and our neighborhoods are not only lovely but filled with fun loving, welcoming folks, enjoying the good life. So, if you are selling your home today, we have a list of buyers interested in living the good life in Solivita. Of course, if you are selling your home in Solivita because you want a larger residence or a smaller residence or a home with a different view we are here to help you with that too. A large percentage of our sellers purchase another residence in Solivita, as they know when life is good it is very good.

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Lemony Lentil Soup With Spinach or Kale

2 Tbsp. EVOO

2 Onions Chopped

2 Large Carrots, peeled and chopped

2 Stalks Celery, Chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

12 cups broth, plus more If needed

8 Cups (7 oz) chopped kale leaves ribs removed, or a box of fresh Spinach

4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

1 Tsp lemon zest

16 Oz. Green Lentils

1 Tsp dried basil

1 Tsp Dried Thyme

Salt and Pepper to taste.

Heat oil in sauce pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook till soft, 5 minutes. Add carrot, celery, and garlic.  Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until carrot is soft (about 5 minutes) Add broth, the lentils, herbs, and S & P.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, if using Kale, add it now.  Cook for 30 to 35 minutes or until lentils are tender.  Add additional broth as needed.  If you are using spinach, add raw spinach 5 minutes before soup is cooked. Stir in lemon juice and grated peel before serving. 

This is the perfect Florida Winter Soup with Florida Fresh Lemon Juice adding a brightness that is just delicious.  This soup is a favorite in our house. If you can’t find green lentils, any lentil will work.  Enjoy.

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L’incontro Italian Restaurant in Lake Wales

If you are Looking for a Good Italian Restaurant close to Solivita, we have one for you and you don’t have to sit in traffic on I4 to get there.  We have been enjoying the cuisine of L’incontro for years and in reading through my past posts I see that I have not mentioned this lovely little place.  Easy to get to by taking Rt 27 South to 60 West and the restaurant is on your right. 

L’incontro is family owned and operated.  The restaurant includes Italian Chefs that have cooked for famous folks all over the world.   The food is delicious, as good as my Mom’s, but please let’s keep that a secret just between us.  The bread is served hot and accompanied by a delicious dish of Hummus and butter or you can always ask for Olive Oil.  The menu has a nice assortment of fish, meat, pasta and rice dishes, and good options for vegetarians.  We have never been disappointed.  The sauce, or Gravy, is as good as any I have had, hearty and flavorful made with sweet San Marzano tomatoes.  The other day we shared a plate of fried calamari that was just delightful.  A bowl of sauce and fresh lemon accompanied the calamari and half the group used lemon and the other half dipped away in sauce, this dish left no one in the group unhappy.  After our sinfully delicious start everyone made their own dinner choice, salad or soup is served with your entrée and every entrée was hot and tasty. This restaurant is worth the trip and offers a good dining experience, especially when guests are visiting, or you are tired of cooking.  We have family members that are weekly lunch guests of L’incontro and report that they have never left disappointed.  I hope you get a chance to try this restaurant.  If you go, please look around you may see Lee and I dining at a nearby table.  35 State Road 60 W., Lake Wales, FL or visit on the web at https://lincontrofl.com If, during this time, you are an outdoor diner only, no worries, ask to sit on the patio in the back.

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Mark Your Calendar

It is Festival Time in Florida, our weather is perfect and we are surrounded by fun events.

Highlands County Fair at the Fairgrounds, 756 Magnolia Ave, Sebring, FL
The Highlands County Fair brings together the best livestock displays, food vendors, carnival rides, contests, and entertainment for one of the most enjoyed annual events in Highlands County. In addition to carnival rides, The Highlands County Fair features tons of exhibits and contests for cooking, photography, horticulture, fine arts, sewing and more! Some examples of the entertainment are the Chainsaw Carving Show, The Master Hypnotist Show and the Miss, Junior Miss, and Little Miss Highlands County Pageants. This is a local fair that makes for a fun afternoon away. While in Sebring, stop at Highlands Hammock State Park and enjoy a walk on the boardwalk under beautiful, towering trees. If after your walk and festival visit you are thirsty or hungry head to Faded Bistro in Sebring. Faded is a great spot in a park like setting with a nice wine and beer list and a good kitchen serving creative, delicious dishes.

Or Stay Very Close to Home and Visit the St. Sophia’s Greek Festival in Winter Haven being held February 11, 12, and 13, 2022. Opa! Enjoy delicious Greek pastries, Greek food, Live Greek Music and Dancing, and a bit of Greek Culture right in our own backyard. The food is homemade by the parishioners from family recipes that have been handed down, enjoy sweet or savory dishes at the or take them to go. If you choose to visit this festival don’t miss the Baklava. www.stsophia.fl.goarch.org

If you want to see a list of Planned Festivals all over the state please visit: www.floridarambler.com/florida-festivals/florida-festival-calendar/

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Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill, Lakeland

A great way to end your day-trip to Lakeland is a stop at Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grill at 101 North Kentucky Avenue in Lakeland and if you have strolled through the Hollis Gardens, Harry’s is only a short hop away. Harry’s is always a lively, fun stop with a nice wine list, a decent beer selection, inviting cocktails and a good kitchen. The menu has a great selection of inventive dishes and will remind you of dining in New Orleans, infused with a Florida Southern twist. Harrys is open from 11 to 10 and has plenty on the menu for everyone from fish to meat. If you are a vegetarian, ask the waiter for an assortment of sides and make your own meal with red beans, rice, collards, etc.

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Fun in the Sun

Florida has lots of claims to fame; We are the Theme Park Capital of the World, the Florida Sunshine is boundless, and wherever you are in Florida you are never more than 60 miles from a beach, that last fact is according to a paper menu that I picked up on a recent trip to a Florida Diner. The Sunshine State has many beautiful spots to enjoy and to experience.  We recently made a visit to the Florida Southern College Campus in Lakeland, a short trip from Solivita.  In 2012, the Florida Southern College Historic District was designated a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service of the Interior.  The campus is lovely and is the site of the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright Architecture in the World.  Tickets are sold in advance and tours are led by experienced docents who provide an overview of the history and design of all 13 Wright Designed Structures.  Additionally, you will tour the interiors of the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, the Danforth Chapel, and the new Usonian Faculty House, allowing you to explore the timeless beauty of Wright’s work. 

If you are a true Frank Lloyd Wright Fan you can also take an in-depth tour.  The in-depth tour includes the above three structures plus will take you inside the E.T. Roux Library, the Ordway Arts Building and the Polk County Science Building.  

Wright first visited the campus in 1938, and over the course of 20 years he designed 18 unique buildings harmoniously blending into the natural landscape surrounding them.  Thirteen of Wright’s proposed structures were funded and built, one of them posthumously, the Usonian House. The Usonian House was completed after a 74 year wait and is now open for tours to the public.  Lee and I had the privilege of touring this 1,700 Sq. Foot dwelling with 2,000 interlocking concrete “textile blocs” with colored glass inserts, and handcrafted reproduction furnishings. 

If you are a Wright Fan or know a Wright Fan stop by the gift shop and see the wide variety of stylish and timeless Wright inspired items for sale, and you can pick up a great souvenir for yourself or for someone you love.  

With this great weather a perfect stop after your tour of the campus is Hollis Gardens.  The Gardens are not large but are well kept and makes for a lovely scenic lakeside walk on a beautiful day.

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U.S. News & World Report on the best Retirement Metro Areas

In a recent issue, the U.S. News and World Reports ranked 150 US Cities for livability in retirement. 11 Florida Cities were in the Top 20 Places to Retire to in the USA. I am happy to say Orlando and Lakeland were among the top. The study was based on how well each city met Americans’ expectations for retirement, with measures including affordability, health care and overall happiness.

The report states “The peninsula nailed down 11 of the top 18 spots even though Florida isn’t as cheap as it used to be.” Having said that, our area is still affordable with a high quality of life and low tax rates since there is no state income tax.

Floridians did not need to read about how good life is in Florida, but it is nice to see it confirmed in print; Florida is a good, healthy and a happy place to live.