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It is Almost Florida Fresh Blueberry Season

Did you Know?  That Florida grows the earliest blooming blueberries in North America    




Did you Know?    Florida Blueberries were developed by crossing northern high bush varieties from Michigan and NJ with native wild berries from Florida.




Did you Know?  Current research has deemed blueberries as a super food.




Did you Know?  – That Central Florida has lots of U-Pick It Farms 




Well now that you know.  However, you enjoy your berries, enjoy them Florida Fresh. 




Whether you pick them yourself, order them in advance from the farm or buy them from Publix; Florida Fresh Blueberries are a sweet taste treat that is good for you.




I am listing two local farms where Lee and I have picked our own berries, but there are many farms to choose from in our area.  Blueberries are easy to pick, the bushes are tall so bending is not really required, and the farm will give you a basket to strap on for “easy peasy picking”.  Berries are great freshly picked, freeze beautifully and enhance both sweet and savory dishes.  




Late Bloom Blueberry Farm




115 Scenic Highway




Haines City, FL 33844




863-289-1722




Or




Whitehead’s Blueberry Farm




1024 Macon Road 




Winter Haven, FL 33884




863-860-4575

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Looking for something new to do, why not visit the…

Sunnyland Boat Festival on Lake Dora in Tavares from March 24 – 27th 2022




This festival is the largest Antique and Classic Boating Event on the East Coast and for the last two years it has been cancelled due to covid, so this year this event should be bigger than ever.  Want to buy an antique boat, this is the show to attend.  Enjoy the 250 – 300 boats on display, visit the food court, the beer garden, the nautical flea market, or the Sunnyland Ship’s Store. Lots of vendors are expected to attend and the atmosphere is always fun.  This makes for a fun afternoon out in the Florida Sunshine.  If you plan to visit, the show is in Wooton Park on Lake Dora, 123 South Joanna Avenue, Tavares, FL 32778.




Or visit Sebring to attend a throw-back Soda Festival from April 1- 3rd.




Sebring is a small, old town along the Lake Wales Ridge in Central Florida and the Sebring Soda Shop holds a craft soda festival in the beautiful, historic downtown giving visitors a chance to sample more than 200 flavors of craft made soda.  Flavors range from traditional colas and root beers, but the soda festival is also serving up interesting flavors such as prickly pear, candies bacon, and cucumber and pepper.  The fee for this is $5.00 for eight samples or $10.00 for 18 samples.  

What makes a soda a craft soda? Each of the sodas you will sample are made in small batches without corn syrup.  Admission to the festival is free and on Saturday night there will be a free Block Party Concerts from 6 – 9 pm with a live band, food trucks, and beer and wine. 

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Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

It is easy to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.  Put a Corned Beef in a pot, add some cabbage, carrots and potatoes and boil till tender, break out the mustard and rye bread and it is a feast.  Of course, It is easier to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by letting someone else do the cooking. When we lived up north St. Patrick’s Day would find us at McSorley’s Old Ale House, a New York City Institution that opened sometime around the Civil War.  It was always fun, lively and the beer was fresh and cold.  Now that we live in the Sunshine State we head to Lizzy’s in Orlando for an Irish Pub.  Lizzy McCormack’s is  “a hole in the wall” on Orange Avenue in Orlando and always an interesting stop.  If you are looking for a real St. Patrick’s Day party Lizzy McCormack’s has an Outdoor Beer Garden, Multiple Bars inside and a Front Patio that is party read for St. Patrick’s Day.  Of course, every space has multiple bars and on St. Patrick’s Day McCormack’s is serving from 8:30 am to 2:00 am.  We have friends with tickets for St. Patrick’s Day Kegs and Eggs Breakfast at Lizzy’s and they have planned a day filled with fun, music and the wearing of the green.




Our family Celebration will be at Mom’s for a Traditional Corned Beef & Cabbage Celebration, and it is a night we all look forward to.  After all, we get up and go to work the next morning, so a quiet, tasty evening filled with good food and the love of family is the perfect celebration for us.




Sorry if you are not lucky enough to have Mom in the Neighborhood cooking up a delicious, corned beef dinner just for you.  If you have to go out, may I suggest you head over to Toojay’s Deli, 7600 Dr. Phillips Blvd, Orlando, FL for a great Corned Beef Sandwich.   When Lee and I have a craving for deli TooJay’s is where we head.  We usually go for breakfast; but end up eating a Corned Beef or a Pastrami Sandwich, after all we can get eggs anywhere.  If you go, please don’t forget the pickles.




Lee and I can always stop by Lizzy’s later in the year, when we find ourselves in downtown Orlando, and enjoy a pint when the crowds and excitement of St. Patrick’s Day is done and we can quietly contemplate how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful spot.  In Central Florida we have it all.  Orlando is only a short drive or a quick trip on the Sunrail away, providing the benefit of the various activities the city offers, the parks, concerts, events, museums and restaurants while we enjoy life in  a pristine private community surrounded by nature.



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Bring More Sunlight into Your Home

An affordable way to bring natural light into your home is with a Solar tube a/k/a sun tunnel.  These high performance, natural lighting systems significantly brighten your living space at a fraction of the cost of a skylight or other lighting options.

Adding this option to your home is not only a green solution but it is a nice feature for any room, hallway, or even your closet. Your home is a unique reflection of you and your style but without proper lighting your home may feel closed in and dark.  The benefits of daylight are indisputable; studies have shown that daylight can make you more productive by boosting your energy level,; it can strengthen your mental abilities by improving concentration and it can enhance your well-being by lifting your mood.  Even on a cloudy day, a Solar tube will bring in an amazing amount of natural light into your space.  In addition, a solar tube can be installed by a pro in a few hours, and we know a very handy do-it-yourselfer who even installed his own.   This is a small investment with a big payoff PLUS think of the electricity you will save while enjoying the beauty of pure light.   Our environments have the ability to shape and influence our emotions and your home should be a place that restores, calms, and rejuvenates your mind and spirit. We added a solar tube to our home and light is streaming in highlighting the pure beauty of the colors, textures, and furnishings we surround ourselves with.   

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Considering Solar. What to know before you make the investment.

Solar energy is becoming more popular for homeowners. and we are starting to see panels on many roofs in our Central Florida Neighborhoods. Installing solar panels on your home is a great way to produce clean energy and will reduce your monthly electric bill, but before you invest you need to do your research. First determine how long you plan to remain in your home to see if you will benefit from reduced energy costs vs the expense of installing Solar Panels. If you are only adding solar to reduce your cooling/heating expenses be sure you are not trading off your energy expense for a Solar Panel Expense. If you are looking to reduce your footprint at any cost then Solar Panels are a really good choice.




Before signing a contract, consider the age of your roof. You would not want to install new Solar Panels on an Older Roof. Additionally, the weight of the solar panels must be considered as your roof may need to be engineered to support the panel weight. Check the Solar Companies References and business practices to be sure you choose the right company for you. Finally, before signing the contract, do your due diligence and Review the Panel Manufacturer’s Warranty, as Solar Panels are expensive to replace.




We are all for Green Energy, but as a realtor, we have seen too many Solar Contracts signed with long term payouts. What happens if you want to sell your home, but you still have a Solar Panel Payment in place? The Seller needs to pay off the panels in advance of the home sale, or the buyer needs to add the cost of the Solar Panel Contract to the sale price of the home.




Hopefully, in the future we will see the Federal Government Jump on Board and help to reduce the initial expense of Solar Panel Installation making Green Energy not only good for the environment but good for our pocketbooks too.

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It is Florida Fresh Strawberry Season

Did you Know?    Plant City, Florida is recognized worldwide as the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.

Did you Know?    There are approximately 8,000 acres of strawberries grown in Florida.

Did you Know?– Eating eight Strawberries a day has been shown to lower blood pressure and to improve memory and heart health.

Did you Know?  – Strawberry Shortcake originated with the American Colonists.

 

Well now that you know.  I am passing along a shortcake recipe we have been enjoying for years.  But the favorite way we enjoy strawberries is freshly washed,  sliced and drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  The berries are Great on their own, and delicious over vanilla ice cream.  However, you enjoy your berries, enjoy them Florida Fresh. 

 

 

Florida Strawberry Shortcake 

 

4 Cups Fresh Strawberries, hulled

Sugar

2 Cups Sifted Flour

2 Tsp Baking Powder

1 Tsp Salt

½ Cup Butter

½ Cup Milk

2 Cups Heavy Cream Whipped

 

Slice 3 cups of Strawberries and sweeten to taste.

 

Preheat Oven to 450 degrees. Sift the Flour, Baking Powder and Salt into a mixing bowl. With a pastry blender or your fingers, work in 5 tablespoons of butter until mixture is course and grainy.  Stir in the milk.

 

Shape the dough into a ball and roll it out to ½ inch thick on a lightly floured surface.   With a 3 inch biscuit cutter, cut out six rounds. Set them on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until brown. 

 

Split the biscuits while hot, butter the bottom halves. Place them on a serving plate. Spoon on the strawberries, top with whipped cream, and place the biscuit top on.  Add the whole berries to each plate and generously share the juice on each shortcake.

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Housing Predictions for 2022

Everyone is making predictions about the housing market, will the market rise, will the housing market fall, will the housing market crash or will prices remain static.  Of course, no experts can predict the market with complete accuracy, but it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that housing prices will drop in the U.S. in 2022.  The most recent predictions, based on facts, see home values continuing to climb through this year and into next. However, many experts advise we will see smaller price gains this year, compared to the gains from 2020 and 2021.  The experts are predicting that U.S. housing prices will rise in 2022, but only by about 4%, so clearly a cooling trend is expected, but the market is expected to remain strong.  All the experts studied seem to have the same outlook, except for Zillow.  Zillow is predicting a rise of about 12% in home values in 2022, and they have based this prediction on the ongoing housing shortage.

 

Housing supply in the U.S. remains below normal levels, even with the massive amount of building all around us.  Housing Inventory was tight before the pandemic, and the inventory only became tighter due to the unexpected rise in home sales.   Two factors are cited that could possibly reverse this trend.  One is inventory growth which could balance the shortage thereby reducing home price appreciation.  The second factor that could cause a cooling effect on the market is affordability, or the lack of affordability.   Many U.S. Cities are becoming unaffordable to an ever-growing number of residents thereby reducing the number of buyers.  In Solivita we do not have this issue as our housing is still affordable and our community is almost built out to capacity making it impossible for Solivita to overbuild.

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Sightseeing in Sanford

One of the girls in the office recently spent an afternoon in Sanford, she and her husband did a walking history tour of the old city.  They both came back and said they had a wonderful time. Sanford truly is a Central Florida Treasure, not just for good restaurants and brew pubs, but really does hold  an historic place in Florida history from Citrus growing to Celery Farming to Naval Aviation to sports, Sanford is a town with lots of history. Once Walt Disney World Resort was built the economy of Central Florida shifted away from agriculture, defense/aerospace and military installations and moved to tourism, the driver of our economy today.  The city has retained a significant collection of older commercial and residential architecture and the old streets in downtown are still shaded by live oak trees.  Hard to write a review on Sanford without recalling the sad news in 2012 of the killing of Trayvon Martin and the actions taken by the Sanford Police Department. History has many twists, since that time, Sanford has made positive changes in their policing policies, developed solid relationships with the community, and has completed a multimillion-dollar streetscaping project. City leaders and planners have sought and have successfully attracted new businesses and visitors to downtown. By 2016 downtown Sanford emerged as a safe, friendly city and a center for craft beer production, with multiple microbreweries, a home brewing supplier and lots of pubs focused on craft beers.  Not a beer drinker, no worries, Sanford has lots of pubs serving spirits, creative cocktails, and wines.  Looking for a more wholesome drink visit the Root’s Raw Juice Bar, seems that Sanford has something for most everyone. 

 

Sanford is the southern terminus of Amtrak’s Auto Train and is served by Florida’s SunRail, a Central Florida commuter train, serving the city from the new station in Sanford off State Road 46.  The City also has a trolleybus that provides service between SunRail and the historic downtown.  From Solivita you can take the train from the Poinciana Station to Sanford.  If you prefer to drive, Sanford is about one hour northeast of Solivita.   

 

Bring or rent a bike and ride the trail, walk, or jog along the Sanford RiverWalk or just relax on a swing and enjoy the sailboat dotted scenery.  If you are looking for a laid-back afternoon or evening take a ride on the Rivership Barbara-Lee, the only authentic sternwheeler sailing the river.  

 

If you have the grandchildren with you, visit the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, originally started by the Sanford Fire Department.  As the firefighters saved folks from burning buildings they also rescued animals and found themselves with quite the collection of monkeys, birds, reptiles, etc., and the Zoo was born. It has grown since its founding and now is quite a large zoo and a nice spot to spend the afternoon.   If the kids are a bit older they will love the Zoom Air Adventure Park at the zoo, where they can enjoy rope bridges and zip lines.  

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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.