No Comments

Spending the Holiday in Solivita, No Worries, We Have Lots Going On

Living in Solivita you will find there is always something to do. Take a class, visit the library, visit one of the gyms, join a club, take a swim, play tennis, pickleball, horseshoes, attend an event, or just hang out downtown with friends. Life is busy in this Active, Beautiful, Over 55 Community. This time of the year, the activities and fun really heat up. The Holiday Activities start with the Fall Festival and move to the Holiday Cooking Demos, Holiday Events, Club Activities, parties and shows, all planned within our community, but the brightest night of the year is New Year’s Eve when Solivita throws a fun, big New Year’s Eve Bash in Downtown Solivita. If you are here for New Year’s Eve Come for the music, the dancing, partying with friends and neighbors, and finish the evening with fireworks. A Great Way to end the year and a Wonderful Way to Welcome 2022. The beauty of partying in Solivita is you can drive your golf cart downtown and be safe within the gates of Solivita. You still need to be careful while tooling around in your golf cart, but do not need to worry about New Year’s Eve drunk drivers on the road. Like the sign says, “We have thought of everything” and Solivita has. Looking forward to seeing you all downtown as we usher in another New Year in Solivita.

No Comments

Kick Off to the Holiday Season with a “Walk in the Park”

Leu Gardens, 1920 North Forest Avenue, Orlando, FL

The Beautiful Leu Gardens is lighting up for the Holidays. Leu Gardens is on the National Register of historical places. The house and garden history dates back to 1885 when the first owner, Thomas Mizell. Thomas Mizell built a farmhouse on the land, two more owners improved the gardens and home and in 1936 Harry P. Leu purchased the property for $40,000.00, a huge sum “back in the day”. Together he and his wife Mary Jane remodeled the home and indulged their passion for gardening. They traveled the world seeking out specimens and together they managed to grow plants in Florida that had never been grown in our climate before. The Leu’s were so proud of their work that they opened the gardens to the public. In 1960 Harry and Mary Jane Leu were ready to donate their home and gardens to the city of Orlando, but they had a plan for their beloved land. They insisted that the entire estate was to be a non-profit and that the city could not sell or dispose of any of the estate, thus the beautiful grounds are here for all of us to enjoy today.

The Holiday Magic at Leu Gardens begins on November 19th and runs through the holidays to January 9th. Enjoy the magical dancing lights as you embark on the ¾ mile journey through the awe-inspiring light experience. Immerse yourself in the wonder of the holidays, enjoy the 185 hanging Moroccan Lanterns, and the light and shadows that they cast into the gardens, experience the rose garden as it comes to life with beautiful balls of light. The light display is interactive, interesting, and lovely. Travel through the forest and enjoy the tunnel of light with your friends and loved ones. Enjoy a fun, safe night spent out of doors and embrace the beauty of the season. This display requires advance tickets, please visit Leu Gardens to buy tickets at

No Comments

Happy Thanksgiving

Lee and I would like to wish all our friends, readers, clients, neighbors, and family a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving. Although 2021 was another Challenging Year due to Covid, the year surprisingly passed safely and quickly. Our Real Estate Brokerage remained busy, and we are happy to say that Bella Verde Realty is the Top Selling Real Estate Firm in Solivita. Each of our realtors remained safe during the pandemic, and we are all praying that Covid-19 is in the rearview mirror. We are planning a Thanksgiving to be Thankful for in Solivita surrounded by family and friends. Lee has a new BBQ smoker, and this year we are planning to smoke a turkey. Weather in Florida is brilliant in the fall, and we will enjoy the beauty of the day and our surroundings as we experiment with the smoker. Lee has been testing smoker recipes and the unique flavors each different wood infuses into the meat, flavors that an oven just can’t match. I am confident that by Thanksgiving Lee will be serving up a delicious Turkey Dinner. So far the recipe leading the pack for the Perfect Roasted Turkey follows:

1 Turkey Cleaned and seasoned with poultry seasoning
1 Whole Onion cut in half
1 Stalk Celery
2 Cups broth, wine, or water

Instructions: Set the grill up for indirect cooking with a temp at 350 degrees. Use a handful of pecan chips for a light, smoky flavor. These chips will also provide a deep brown color to the turkey.

Spread the seasoning generously over the outside of the bird. Load the bird onto a Vertical Poultry Roaster or Roasting Rack, then place into a drip pan. Add the onion and celery to the drip pan. Fill the pan with broth, wine, or water.

Cook for 15 minutes per pound until the turkey has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees throughout the product. Reserve the drippings from the drip pan to make gravy.

No Comments

Expectations for the 2022 Housing Market

Most experts define this year’s housing market, as “incredibly overheated” as characterized by massive multiple offers, contingency waivers, price escalation clauses and record home prices. Indeed, 2021 sent home prices skyrocketing, with competition hotter than ever, combined with a low supply of homes, homebuyers were and (still are) paying top dollar for a home. Factor in mortgage rates near rock bottom and 2021 gave us a true seller’s market. The housing market is still hot, but signs are leaning to a small cool down due to a climbing inventory of homes giving homebuyers more options and seller’s less competition for each home.

This cooling trend does not mean the seller’s market is ending, all predictions point to the seller’s market remaining strong, but predictions are pointing to a more balanced market for 2022. When you Combine low mortgage rates and financing in general remaining favorable to buyers, and an improved housing inventory, predictions are that the market will skew a bit more in favor of buyers.

Don’t expect home prices to decrease, home prices will just rise at a pace slower than we saw in 2021. While it is a fact that around one third of homebuyers paid more than they were expecting for a home in 2021, still two thirds of the market is selling at or below list price, so there are still opportunities for buyers to purchase a home without getting into a bidding war.

On the mortgage front, mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2022. Currently mortgage rates are around 3%, but by the end of 2022 mortgage rates are expected to trend up and hit about 4%, an important fact for homebuyers to consider.

Good News for Solivita, the suburban home market is expected to remain hot for 2022. As home sales in the cities slow, sales in the suburbs are on the rise. In addition, the baby boomer market is strong, therefore as folks who moved to Solivita 20 – 25 years ago leave Solivita to live nearer their children, baby boomers are coming to Solivita in droves and looking to buy a modern, affordable home in an Award-Winning Community. Solivita consistently ranks within the TOP 50 Places in America to Retire to, our community is active, strong, and beautiful. Florida is an affordable, tax friendly state and a great place to call home especially in retirement.

No Comments

Our Newest Member of the Bella Verde Team

We are happy to introduce Richard Streitler to the Bella Verde Family of Realtors. Richard has been a friend of our family for over 25 years. Richard moved from Maitland and has lived, worked, and played in Solivita for the last few years. Richard has a background in design and has helped our team to stage, provided garden suggestions, and has made minor redecorating suggestions and achieved major impact to homes we are listing. He is quite talented, and we are thrilled to have him on our team. Richard’s expertise in design will help him and us as we market and sell homes throughout our community. Call Richard to list your home, he will be happy to assist you with staging and design ideas to help your home move from Listed to Sold. Call Richard at 321-251-0688.

No Comments

Fall Apple Acorn Stuffed Squash

2 Acorn Squash, halved and seeded

2 Tbsp Butter

1 cup chopped onions

4 cups peeled Granny Smith apples seeded and chopped

½ cup golden raisins, or dried cranberries

2 Tbsp Light brown sugar

1 Tsp ground cinnamon

1.5 cups shredded Cheddar Cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the squash on a baking tray cut side down. Fill the tray with ½” water


Bake the squash in the preheated oven about 40 minutes. Drain any remaining water from the baking tray.


Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the onion and apple until the onion is translucent, 10 – 15 minutes. Let the mixture cool.


Once the squash is done, stir in all the ingredients, except the squash. Turn the squash cut side up and fill with the mixture. Return the squash to the oven and bake until filling is hot and the cheese has melted. 15 – 20 minutes.


Lee and I love this dish. It is a good company dish, a good accompaniment to a dinner, or a great dinner when served with a salad. We prepare the stuffing and cut the squash in the morning, bake the squash, and add the stuffing when we get home from work and within an hour we are enjoying a healthy delicious dinner.

No Comments

Solivita Fall Festival

Solivita is scheduling the Annual Fall Festival in the Village Center for Saturday, the 6th of November. This will be the 20th Fall Arts and Crafts Festival and we have been to each and every festival. We are Proud Solivita Pioneers, we picked our lot, contracted for our home and our moved into our new home in May of 2002. We don’t quite remember the date, but we do remember the excitement of moving to a new neighborhood, into a new home surrounded by the beauty of Solivita and good neighbors who all became friends. When we were looking for a home in Central Florida, Solivita stood out to us. The infrastructure was already in place, the amenities were what we were looking for and the builder had a great reputation, plus each of the model homes were lovely. After 20 years, we still feel the same way. This year we sold our original home and moved to a newer home in Solivita. The kids are growing up now and have families of their own, therefore our space needs have grown with the family. We thought about making changes to our existing home, but after lots of consideration, we decided, we just needed a bigger home. Benefit is, now that we buy less toys for the kids we have more toys for us. We love our new home, it is spacious, open plan and has a large garage leaving us room for our bikes, golf carts, golf clubs, cars, and the necessary ladder and work bench. We are starting all over again, planting our garden, redecorating our home, and making plans for our future at our new address. Twenty years later, starting over in a new home is just as exciting this time around as it was the last time.

Looking forward to the Fall Fest, planning to Christmas Shop and purchase some items made by our local crafters and artisans. Our community has many talented folks, the items at the festival are always amazing. Talented photographers, artists, potters, quilters, and crafters, we bring our Christmas List and shop till we drop, visit with friends, enjoy lunch, a glass of wine, the music, and together we share a lovely day. A Day at The Fall Festival Beats shopping at one of the Malls in Paramus, NJ. No waiting for a parking space, no fighting the traffic, no need to scrape ice from our windows or defrost our locks. It is just a day of good cheer and a great way to “score some good gifts” for each other and those we love. The perfect start to the Holiday Season. See you at the Fall Fest!

No Comments

Columbia Restaurant at Celebration

OK. Enough family fun, how about dinner out for the adults at Columbia in Celebration. With Covid we have been laying low, but this week family was in from NJ, and Lee and I were tired of cooking and cleaning up the party remains. Celebration is an easy drive and always has been a great place for a good meal. We reserved an outdoor table and met our family at 6 PM on Sunday. We enjoyed a lovely walk around town, hung out by the lake, and had a nice outdoor table at Columbia appropriately spaced from other diners. Dinner and the Service were wonderful. The staff were all masked, very helpful and knowledgeable. They discussed specials, and even made up a special Grouper Dinner for us. We shared Columbia’s Original 1905 Salad, it was delicious, and we thought a healthy choice, but then the salad came to the table with meats and cheese, so much for our healthy start. Of course, it was delicious and trust me I am not complaining, as we enjoyed every bite. We followed with a choice of Tapas and then on to the main entrée, Grouper. The Grouper was perfectly prepared and tasted as though it had just jumped out of the sea. It was served with Yellow Rice and grilled asparagus, and each piece was piled with crabmeat. To complete our delicious evening, we enjoyed a pitcher of Sangria with dinner. Columbia Restaurant is a good night out in a beautifully decorated restaurant in a lovely location. The beauty of living in Central Florida is, everyone visits, whether they come to see you, or they come to visit the attractions and stop in to visit with you, Central Florida is a great place to live as well as a great place to visit.

No Comments

Safari Animals are coming to Polk County

Safari Land being Planned for River Ranch Resort & Rodeo in Polk County

Looks like Safari Animals are coming to Polk County at Westgate Ranch Resort in 2022. Another great place to enjoy and to share with the grandchildren. The animals planned are all non-aggressive and include water buffalo, giraffes, deer, and other hooved animals in the 45–50-acre Safari Area on the resort grounds. While most of the animals will be peaceful creatures, there will be an alligator exhibit in an area separate from the safari experience. The goal of Westgate Resorts is to create a unique immersive and interactive experience where guests can drive through the safari on golf carts or narrated guided trams. According to Mark Waltrip, COO of Westgate Resorts, “The safari has been specifically designed in very large open fields to allow the animals to replicate their natural habitat with large oak canopies for natural shade.” Waltrip said the fields would be separated from the cart paths with a double-layer barrier between the guests and the large animals. An education area focused on animals along with a picnic area and a playground is planned too. This proposed project will be brought to the Planning Commission in November and the Westgate Team is optimistic that this project will move smoothly to permitting and completion. This sounds like a nice addition to the “glamping” resort and is only one hour south of Orlando, so another great place to take the kids. Visit Westgate Ranch Resort at: 3200 River Ranch Blvd, River Ranch, FL 33867.

No Comments

Fall in Florida

Finally, a cool breeze is rustling through the Palm Trees in Solivita. I love this time of the year, the morning air is fresh, and the afternoon highs are manageable announcing the arrival of fall, my favorite time of the year. This year we are taking the grandchildren to the PARTIN RANCH CORN MAZE for a fun day at the farm. We will explore the over 5 acres of mazes, with various one-way length trails, as our family has children of the perfect age to explore a large maze. If your family has children on the younger side you can explore the 1-acre corn maze trail. The PARTIN RANCH is cattle working ranch, and you and your family will get to visit with the animals, pick out a pumpkin, take a pony ride, a hayride, enjoy a ride on the Barrel train, play some games or ride on the Farm Harvester. Whatever you choose to do, it will be a fun experience. The Farm is Open on Saturday and Sunday from October 9th to November 7th. Weather permitting. The last weekend of October is Trick or Treat Weekend and children in costumes 3-12 years old get in free on that weekend only.

Days spent at a Farm in the Fall remind me of growing up in NJ where our tradition would be to go apple picking at Tice’s Farm, drink delicious freshly pressed cider, and eat warm apple cider donuts. In my mind’s eye I still see the old wooden cider press squeezing out sweet, fresh apple cider while the bees buzzed around the sweet fresh pressed cider. The farm was near our home, and when I close my eyes, I can still smell the aroma of the freshly made cider donuts coated in cinnamon sugar, hot and delicious. A few years ago, my brother-in-law shipped in apple cider donuts from Delicious Orchards in NJ, as sadly “progress” turned Tice’s Farm and apple orchard into housing and yet another NJ Shopping Center. We were all looking forward to again experiencing the taste of a cider donut, only to find ourselves sadly disappointed. Don’t know if our tastes have matured, or the miles between the cider dipped donuts in NJ and Florida spoiled the taste, but I can tell you that will be the last time we ship in cider donuts. This year we will skip the cider donuts, but we will still enjoy the treats of the season and the fun that fall brings and we hope you do as well. Happy Halloween, Hope you each get more treats than tricks.

Happy Halloween to you from Bella Verde Realty. Lee and I are not planning to dress up this year, instead we are planning to have a quiet Halloween, perhaps light the BBQ, or maybe just hang out at home, put a football game on and order a pizza. In Solivita we do not have any children dressing up, ringing our bell, and looking for treats since we are all over 55. It took a year or two to get used to not buying candy for the kids, but after all these years we are used to a Halloween without the bell ringing off the wall. We went to Kilwin’s in Celebration, purchased some dark chocolate covered orange peels and our plan is to open the box on Halloween and enjoy a treat together. No tricks this year, the COVID-19 Pandemic delivered enough tricks for us all. Happy Halloween, Hope you enjoy a good treat and have a fun day.

The Partin Ranch is located at 5601 N. Canoe Creek Road, Kenansville, FL 34739 and you can reach them on the web at: