STYLE Magazine, Village Edition, December 2021

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EXPERT ORTHOPAEDIC CARE When it comes to orthopaedic care, you want to rely on a team of trusted, highly skilled specialists. The Joint Center at UF Health The Villages® Hospital offers a wide range of services, including minimally invasive surgery and the latest in robotic techniques, to get you back to your life as quickly as possible.

Learn more at:



For life’s adventures – no matter how big or small – you need a seasoned team caring for you through it all. As Orlando Health Medical Group FHV Health, it’s easier than ever to connect with our awarded, nationally recognized healthcare system throughout Lake and Sumter Counties. For a quality partnership that delivers quality care, choose Orlando Health.


At Babette’s, it’s all about YOU .

Whether you are looking for a custom look or want to start with a pre-designed package, our design process is all about each individual customer and we really personalize it. Our talented decorators specialize in making the process simple, working with you every step of the way.

In-Home and In-Store INTERIOR DESIGN CONSULTATIONS FURNITURE PACKAGES Move-In and Rental-Ready Options Available

(352) 617-6001 8345 US Highway 441, Leesburg, FL 34788 3691 Meggison Rd, The Villages, FL 32163

PERFORMANCE. IT’S WHAT WE’RE ABOUT. At Advanced Orthopedics Institute we specialize in hips, knees, shoulders, ankles, wrists...and tennis players. We’re national leaders in reverse shoulder replacements for those whose rotator cuffs are no longer functioning, performing more in a year than most surgeons perform in a lifetime. We also have a full range of non-invasive procedures to help relieve shoulder pain and improve function. Return to the activities you enjoy most. Get moving. Call 352.751.2862.


John T. Williams, Jr., MD

1400 N US Hwy 441, Suite 552 | The Villages, FL 32159 phone 352.751.2862 | fax 855.420.1047 |

Alfred J. Cook, Jr., MD

Merry Christmas! 8022 W. GROVE STREET HOMOSASSA, FL 34446 ONE OF A KIND! This EXTRAORDINARY 7 Bedroom & 7 Bath, 2-story Estate Home in Homosassa offers convenient local shopping, dining, medical, sport fishing, and so much more! This meticulously maintained home boasts TONS of upgrades, beautiful architectural finishes, and lush resort- like landscaping. Relax or entertain in the heated, indoor pool with stone façade, waterfalls, and wet bar. The first floor includes (4) Luxurious Guest Suites, a fully equipped Kitchen w stainless steel appliances, spacious eat-in Breakfast area, and a large Laundry & Utility Room. Two private staircases lead to the private Owner’s Quarters featuring a spacious & posh Master Suite, plus an additional 2Bed/1Bath, Enormous walk-in closets, Washer/Dryer, Stately office with Balcony overlooking the grounds, formal Living & Dining, and a gourmet chef’s kitchen with storage galore. Currently, this property is operated as a Bed and Breakfast with spa services, and as a private party venue. Call TODAY to schedule a private showing! $839,495 | MLS# G5047924

OAK WOODS WAY, LADY LAKE, FL 32159 Let’s build your dream home TODAY! Absolutely BEAUTIFULLY wooded 1.58 Acres on Griffin Avenue in Lady Lake. This soughtafter location is conveniently located near The Villages, with shopping, dining entertainment, Grand Oaks Resort, and much, much more! Seller is a licensed Real Estate Broker and will provide survey and soil testing report. $94,500 | MLS# G5046202

41846 STATE ROAD 19, UMATILLA, FL 32784 This GORGEOUS property presents 39 Acres with 1500 FT LAKE FRONTAGE, that can be subdivided into several lakefront homes, or rezoned for Multifamily or Commercial. This property includes a charming 1915 2B/1B wood frame home, fully renovated in 2016, plus a warehouse, conveniently located one mile north of Downtown Umatilla, near entrance to Ocala National Park with city water available. Loaded with nice oaks and planted pines. $1,395,000 | MLS# G5039991

14306 HOMOSASSA ST, TAMPA, FL 33613 This FABULOUS 4 Bedroom, 2 Bath Home in The Springs features a split Bedroom layout with tons of natural lighting and volume ceilings! Home also offers brand new carpeting, vinyl plank flooring, interior laundry room with newer washer and dryer (2019), newer roof (2013). Air Conditioner (2011). Brand new neutral color carpeting in the all of the Bedrooms. This home has a shed for additional storage. Call TODAY to make an appointment to see this Beautiful HOME for Yourself!! $379,950 | MLS # G5048810

1317 PINEY WOODS PATH, THE VILLAGES, FL 32162 This Furnished/Move-In ready 3B/2B split “Bougainvillea” Designer Home is nestled in The Village of DUNEDIN. S/S Whirlpool kitchen appliances, with beautiful beveled edge Laminate counter tops that look like granite, and recessed lighting. The Master Bedroom Suite has 2 walk-in closets, high vanities, dual sinks & tiled walk-in shower. Additional features include: screen enclosed lanai, inside laundry with cabinetry and a utility sink. This home offers everything you need and more! $315,000 | MLS# G5048784

12951 SE SUNSET HARBOR RD, WEIRSDALE, FL 32195 BREATHTAKING SUNSETS ON LAKE WEIR! This beautiful 3 Bedroom, 3 Bath, 2-Story Home is nestled among towering Oak trees right on LAKE WEIR. This home boasts so many STUNNING features; Beginning with the lush, tropical landscaping, newer roof (2017), AC (2020), Spacious 2-car garage with storage shelves, front covered porch, Double Entry French Doors with leaded glass, laminate flooring throughout, soaring vaulted ceilings with wood beams, LARGE windows overlooking the BEAUTIFUL view of Lake Weir, Stone gas fireplace in the living room, recess lighting in Living Room and stair area. Spacious Inside Laundry with Utility sink and plenty of shelving for storage, Master Bedroom downstairs with vinyl flooring and LARGE walkin closets. The Backyard has upper and lower decks off the house with stairs leading down to the Lake with an additional party deck. This Lake Home is MOVE IN READY! Call Today for details! $589,000 | MLS# G5048694

Sharon Bassett, Owner/Broker

352.307.2925 / Spruce Creek Professional Plaza / 10935 SE 177th Place, Suite 201, Summerfield

IMAGELIFT COSMETIC PLASTIC SURGERY Facial and cosmetic plastic surgery in Tampa and The Villages®

The ImageLift Guarantee: • We utilize the latest technology. • You will see our proven track record for natural results. • FREE CONSULTATIONS - Simply answer a few questions and we’ll immediately start guiding you through your very own ImageLift Experience™! FACELIFTS (SURGICAL AND NON SURGICAL)




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FOLLOWING CDC GUIDELINES ON SOCIAL DISTANCING EXCLUSIVE SEMINAR PRICING Katie had ImageLift, Laser, and filler treatments. Results are typical and do vary.


Wednesday, December 1st @ 2pm 3003 Brownwood Blvd


Liz had ImageLift, Laser, and filler treatments. Results are typical and do vary.

Masks are required for guests and staff Must have reservation to attend

Kathy had a Laser ImageLift. Results are typical and do vary.

8630 East CR 466, The Villages

*Patient and any other person responsible for payment has a right to refuse to pay, cancel payment, or be reimbursed for payment for any other service, examination, or treatment that is performed as a result of and within 72 hrs of responding to ad for the free, discounted fee, or reduced fee service, examination, or treatment.

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Positive reinforcement The Rock, a pilot program at Leesburg High School, gives students all the basic necessities, plus encouragement and guidance they need to succeed. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN


Power to the people Every community, no matters its size, has its influential people whose opinions are respected, whose insights are valued, and whose support is constantly needed when potential changes arise. Lake and Sumter Style proudly showcases the area’s most influential and popular people of 2021. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL, ROXANNE BROWN, JAMES COMBS

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We Listen. We Care. We Educate.



Dec. 7th & 21st @ 9:30a.m. BROWNWOOD HOTEL & SPA 3003 BROWNWOOD BLVD, THE VILLAGES Seating is very limited and by RSVP only.

TB Financial Group Inc. is a licensed insurance agency for life, health, and annuities. We are not securities licensed. We are not tax advisors. Our seminars are very general in nature and not meant to replace the advice of your CPA, Tax Preparer, Investment Advisor or Attorney. We will not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax or legal professional for these matters.

Merry Christmas from the staff at TB Financial!


Liz Cornell, CAS®

CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER 3261 U.S. Highway 441/27, Suite F-2 Fruitland Park, FL 34731

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YOU ARE MY ROCK Faith-based program meets the needs of LHS students.

GET YOUR MOTOR RUNNING Take a fun-filled ride on a Segway.


Baker Nikki Anderson enjoys sweet success.


Bridgette Bennett: A high-flying legal eagle.


Meet Lake and Sumter’s most influential people.


Wealth Management

Lake and Sumter Style

Village Edition

Photo: Nicole Hamel Model: Bridgette Bennett

Photo: Douglas Tyler Fross & Fross Wealth Management





‘Tis the season to shop local Here’s your chance to give back big by shopping small. hanksgiving is officially over. The turkey tasted delicious, and the time spent among family and friends created everlasting memories. We all know what comes next. It’s time to break out those shopping lists. Christmas will be here before we know it. You don’t want to be one of those last-minute shoppers who scramble to buy their final gifts on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, I’ve already set my Christmas shopping game plan into motion. It’s not complicated. In fact, it’s quite simplistic. I’m shopping local. There are several reasons why I’ve made this decision. First, I want my money to stay in the community. Many local businesses use a portion of their sales to support nonprofit

organizations that offer much-needed services to many residents. Moreover, when we support hometown companies, more jobs are created and the economy flourishes. Second, shopping local helps me find unique and meaningful gifts that I likely wouldn’t find at a big box store. I don’t want to risk buying something that a family member or friend already has. Our shops in Lake and Sumter counties offer never-before-seen handmade art and decorations, cute t-shirts, and delicious food gifts and gourmet baskets. Third, I enjoy a better, more personalized shopping experience. At large retail stores, I’m just one of thousands of customers who walk in and out of the store on a given day. Conversely, local storeowners are passionate about their products, and that passion shines through in the way they greet and interact with their

customers. They enthusiastically go out of their way to help me find the ideal gift, and they provide an expert opinion about the product I’m purchasing. I leave the store feeling like a valued customer. Fourth, I know many small businesses are reeling from the coronavirus pandemic. Sadly, some have permanently shut down. Remember, these small businesses are vital to our community. And if you’re still afraid to shop in public, don’t forget that many provide you the option of purchasing their goods online. I hope each of you has a wonderful Christmas. Hopefully, 2022 will bring us all renewed hope and joy.


Have a story to tell? We’re always looking for stories about people who live and work in our area. Send suggestions to

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ission Inn Resort and Club is set among 1100 acres of Old Florida unspoiled beauty. In every direction are picturesque backdrops of Mediterranean-style architecture, spring-fed lakes, and gentle, rolling hills. For residents, the resort-style amenities offers a lifestyle of luxury and tranquility. The property features a hotel, two award-winning golf courses, fine dining restaurants, a spa, tennis courts, pickle ball, swimming pool, walking trail and marina on Lake Harris. Mary Jane Easley and Cesar Villarroel say they are blessed to be residents of the Mission Inn Resort and Club and enjoy living the resort lifestyle. As realtors they passionately embrace the opportunity to help others live the same dream. For both Mary Jane and Cesar, Mission Inn Resort and Club is not only where they live but also where they sell the lifestyle buyers have always dreamed about! Mary Jane moved from Texas and joined the Mission Inn Real Estate Office in 2002 when the Las Colinas development first started. She and her husband built their home on the Las Colinas third fairway that same year. Most everything was undeveloped land with only a few homes already built. She enjoyed taking her clients out in golf carts, so they could select their lot and contract to build their new home. Over the years she has sold more than $60 million both at Mission Inn and throughout Lake/Orange County. She has also won the Orlando Five Star Award five times. Less than 1% of the realtors who are recognized by their peers and clients win this award. Cesar Villarroel, who is fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese, is a true international ambassador for the sport of tennis and in the fitness field. He holds his United States Professional Tennis Association

Elite Certification, has a Certified Pro 1 Rating from the Professional Tennis Registry, is a Certified Trainer for the National Endurance Sports Training Association (NESTA), is Titleist Performance Institute certified (TPI) and serves on the Adidas and Wilson Tennis Advisory Staff. After years of coaching ITF, ATP, and WTA players as well as co-founding the former 6th Sense Tennis Academy in Florida with former number one in the world Justine Henin, Cesar has decided to broaden his horizons. While continuing to flourish in the tennis world, Cesar has now found success in helping homeowners and homebuyers in Central Florida. In 2020, Cesar became a multimilliondollar producer. Whether you’re looking to sell your current home or you’re in the market for something new, Cesar will make sure to make it happen, negotiating the best deal possible in a concise manner. Mission Inn Real Estate has now changed owners and so Mary Jane and Cesar are now embracing new opportunities with Olympus Executive Realty. They continue to sell both new and resale homes at Mission Inn, as well as throughout Lake/Orange County. As Realtors, Mary Jane and Cesar provide personalized service and develop long-lasting friendships with their clients. Moreover, they guide clients every step of the way, making the homebuying and selling process as stressfree and hassle-free as possible. Needless to say, Mary Jane and Cesar are looking forward to continuing their friendships with existing clients and forging meaningful l relationships with new clients. Whether you desire the dream lifestyle at Mission Inn or seek the dream home in another part of Lake County, there’s something every homebuyer or seller can be guaranteed. Mary Jane and Cesar don’t merely meet expectations; they exceed them by going above and beyond for their clients!

Mary Jane Easley, Realtor Olympus Executive Realty for Top Producers 16903 Lakeside Dr. Ste 6, Montverde, FL 34756 352.455.9642 | Cesar Villarroel, Realtor Olympus Executive Realty for Top Producers 16903 Lakeside Dr. Ste 6, Montverde, FL 34756 352.455.6816 |

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If home is where the heart is then you’re in the right place.

Now Accepting United Healthcare Medicare Pacemaker management Chest pain management

Coronary intervention Blood pressure management


The Right Place is Village Heart & Vein Center Our physicians and medical professionals have been treating Central Floridians for years with a level of exemplary cardiac and vascular care that comes straight from the heart. The Oaks Professional Center, 8575 NE 138th Lane



As an avid dancer and winner of Junior Miss Eustis, middle school student Addisyn Melanson is taking the right steps toward success.

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A COLLAGE OF CREATIVITY: Art can be appreciated in many forms at the Mount Dora Arts Festival, which will be held Feb. 5-6. More than 300,000 people are expected to fill the streets of downtown Mount Dora to attend the festival, which is ranked among the top 20 events in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society. Some of the country’s leading artists will showcase their oils, clay, graphics, watercolor, acrylics, glass, jewelry, sculpture and more. For more information, please call 352.383.0880.

SHOP LOCAL! Looking for Christmas gift for special people in your life? Do what Style staffers enjoy, spend time browsing shops in Mount Dora, Clermont, Eustis, Leesburg, and The Villages, and we believe you’re apt to find some perfect presents to wrap under the tree.

FOR THE BIRDS: Bird watching has become one of the country’s most popular sports. Fortunately, Lake County offers ample opportunities for both beginning and experienced bird watchers to enjoy this fast-growing sport. The following locations are ideal for bird watching: • Bourlay Historic Nature Park • Crooked River Preserve • Flat Island Preserve • Hidden Island Preserve • Lake Louisa State Park • Alexander Springs • Palatlakaha Environmental and Agricultural Reserve • Sawgrass Island Preserve • Trout Lake Nature Center • Venetian Gardens

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KINDNESS. IT’S IN OUR BLOOD: January is National Blood Donor Month. Automobile accidents, cancer, surgery, burns, childbirth, and other medical situations are part of the reason why someone in the United States needs blood every two seconds, according to the American Red Cross. You can donate at OneBlood, which has locations in The Villages (352.750.4088), Leesburg (352.728.1223) and Clermont (352.241.7543).

GET INTO THE SWING OF THINGS: For the past 35 years, the Lake County Swing Big Band has made a name for itself in Central Florida by performing the great sounds of the swing band era. If you haven’t been fortunate enough to hear them live, you don’t know what you’re missing. The band will perform Dec. 19 at 6 p.m. at Graceway Church in Leesburg. Since this is an outdoor concert, attendees are encouraged to bring a chair and dress appropriately for weather. For more information, visit

RECOGNIZED FOR SERVING OTHERS: Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced that Clermont City Councilman Ebo Entsuah has been appointed to the Florida Commission on Community Service. Ebo, along with 11 other appointees, will assemble for the commission known as Volunteer Florida. To read the entire news release from the office of Governor Ron DeSantis please visit:

ENCHANTED EVENING: Tiaras of Hope will host its holiday red-carpet ball, One Enchanted Evening, from 6-10 p.m. Dec. 27 at Mission Inn in Howeyin-the-Hills, and this year’s gala will honor Cornerstone Hospice volunteers. Tickets for the dinner and dance are $110 per person. For more details, send email to:

MAKE HOMEMADE JAM: Lori Johnson, Family and Consumer Science Agent for UF/IFAS Lake County Extension, will host two hands-on cooking classes for those who want to learn and practice making jams and jellies. The cost is $15 per person, and classes will be offered 1-3 p.m. Dec. 14 and Dec. 16, at the extension office, 1951 Woodlea Road, Tavares. To learn more, call 352.343.4101 ext. 2721, or email

HISTORICAL HONOR: The Clermont Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) William Alfred Suggs Memorial Post 5277, chartered Jan. 24, 1946, was officially placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior last month. The occasion was marked by a dedication of the plaque they received, a proclamation by the City of Clermont and many well wishes by those in attendance. The VFW, located at 855 W. DeSoto St., is only the second building in Clermont to have been given the honorable designation. MADE WITH CARE: If looking for the perfect gift for that hard to shop for person, maybe a bar of soap will do, but not just any soap! At Anabar Soap Company, Anna Samson, co-owner of Cal’s Kitchen in Montverde, whips up all kinds of bars using only the purest of ingredients, care and love. If interested in finding out the available scents in stock for Christmas, visit Cal’s Kitchen, located at 17415 7th St., Suite B, Montverde, call 863-307-0930 or search @anabarsoap on Facebook or Instagram.

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Ileanne Buigas Executive director of Lake County Museum of Art cherishes making each show and fundraiser a success to benefit the community. INTERVIEWER: THERESA CAMPBELL



• Lives in Eustis. • Graduated in graphic design from University of Miami. Also founder of consulting firm

B Marketing Agency. • Family includes husband David Lopez, a teacher; daughters Addy, 26, a teacher in Orlando; and

What I enjoy about my job: I love turning over the shows. Being able to put new artwork up on the walls is the best day of each one. My brother, George Buigas, and I are the ones who put the shows up and it’s fun. It’s great to work with him at the museum doing what we like. It really is a family affair. Fun museum events: Our Bubbles &

Favorite artist: I like modern and I’m much into Romero Britto, a modern Brazilian painter. He paints with a lot of bright colors. I have a few of his pieces at home, and I really love his work.

More about me: I am a doer. I have to be busy, and I want to please people.

Know a person of interest? Tell us!

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• Enjoys baking; making macarons is her latest obsession.

I always want to help, I want to make things smooth, and I want everybody happy, but it doesn’t always work. It’s hard for me to say “no” when it’s for a good cause.

On my bucket list: To travel more. Even little trips of visiting New York because my youngest daughter is there. Best advice: Tomorrow is another day. Even when things go wrong, you get to start over tomorrow.

Brews, featuring four watercolor artists, was fantastic, and we had a great summer camp. Knowing that not every school has art, we want to be able to bring it to the community.

Creative family: My uncle used to paint, and one of my favorite memories was watching my grandfather sketch pictures of my grandmother. It was so neat; my brother and I have a couple of the sketches.

Rachel, 23, art director for the New York Times.

What surprises people: My age of 54. Best compliment: I am constantly being told that every show looks different and that they love it. It really makes me feel good because the museum can’t be boring. Guilty pleasure: Reality TV. I’m all hooked on the “Housewives” shows.

What I want people to know about the museum: We’re here! Email your recommendation to



Addisyn Melanson Ambitious Eustis student has danced in New York City, instructed by Radio City Rockettes. INTERVIEWER: THERESA CAMPBELL



• Will turn 12 on Jan. 12. • A 6th grade student at Eustis Middle School.

• Recently competed in the Amazing Race for Charity with her brother. • Daughter of James and Kim Melanson.

Favorite subject: Math, because my teacher is nice and because I like figuring problems out. School participation: I’m a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, I play trumpet in band, and I want to get involved in student government. A special honor: I currently hold two titles, Junior Miss Eustis and Junior Lake County Fair. I have held six titles. Two things I enjoy: Dancing and volunteering.

About my dancing: Dance is my passion and I have been dancing since I was 3 at Dance Depot. The styles I dance are jazz, tap, contemporary, ballet, acro and hip-hop. I’m a competitive dancer and in November 2019, I danced in New York City instructed by the Radio City Rockettes. I was also a competitive baton twirler, twirling for five years until my schedule got too busy. One day I hope to twirl again.

What I enjoy about volunteering: I love the opportunity it gives to become more involved in the community and that I get to know the city government officials, especially Mayor Holland. My favorite part is volunteering and serving my community at festivals and any other chance I get. I have been volunteering since I was 4.

Favorite Eustis events: The Amazing Race for Charity which raises money for local charities, and Georgefest, a three-day celebration every year. What inspires me: My family and how they are always there for me. They always support and encourage me in everything I do or want to try.

Favorite food: Steak. Best advice: My mom always says to do your best and forget the rest and always be kind and humble.

When I grow up, I want to be: A veterinarian so I can help animals.

How I spend my free time: Playing with friends, going on trips with my family, and spending time with my pets.

My pets: I have two cats and three dogs; all rescue pets, and I have a fish from the fair. What I want for Christmas: A cell phone.

Nickname: The city manager of Eustis once gave me the nickname Miss Gigglesworth because I was always giggling when I was Tiny Miss Eustis and Little Miss Eustis.

Know an outstanding student? Fill us in!

Email your recommendations to

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(352) 728-5600

(352) 617-6001

8345 US Highway 441, Leesburg, FL 34788 – Sat 10 am – 5 pm, Sun 12 - 5 pm 8345 Mon US Highway 441, Leesburg, FL 34788

(352) 643-6430

3691 Meggison Rd, The Villages, FL 32163 Mon – Sat 10 am – 9 pm, Sun 12 - 5 pm

up Stepping

Sarah Uhrik gets named McLin Burnsed’s newest equity director after three years with the law firm, and a lot of hard work under her belt. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

fter 50 years of serving clients in Leesburg, The Villages and throughout Florida, McLin Burnsed, one of the oldest law firms in North Central Florida, is stronger than ever. One reason for that is Sarah Uhrik, an experienced tax attorney recently elected to the firm’s Board of Directors as an equity member, effective Nov. 1. “I’m thankful for the support and confidence the firm’s leaders have shown in me and couldn’t be more excited to help build on what McLin Burnsed has created and the reputation McLin has in the community, and continuing to serve our clients and our community with excellence for many years to come,” Sarah says. In turn, Phil Smith, the firm’s managing partner, credits Sarah’s leadership within the firm and the strength of the relationships she has forged with her clients as the reason for her promotion. He also adds that Sarah’s promotion further exemplifies the firm’s values and its promise of excellence and service to clients above all else.

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And while national data shows that only 19% of managing partners, 21% of equity partners and 31% of nonequity partners are women, McLin Burnsed sees Sarah not only as the right person for this position, but key to the firm’s future. “She is thoroughly committed to the growth and protection of the individuals she serves, and I am eager to see her assume a more significant leadership role in this new position,” Phil adds. Sarah says her appointment corresponds with the vision she’s had since becoming an attorney, and the firm itself, she adds, is one of the biggest perks of all. “Becoming a partner was one of my biggest professional goals and I’ve achieved it, so I feel great,” Sarah says. “I didn’t just want to work at a firm, I wanted to establish my reputation as someone who could be in a leadership position and continue to grow the firm.” “But even more important to me, was finding a law firm that feels like family and not just a job, and that’s exactly what McLin Burnsed has been. It’s also been nice coming into a new position where I know that my opinions and efforts are appreciated.”

Sarah, a Lake County native, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida and her Juris Doctor from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago, now known as the University of Illinois Chicago School of Law. After being admitted to the Illinois Bar, she began her career focusing on civil litigation, estate planning, tax planning and corporate law. She later went on to earn her Master of Laws (LL.M.) in taxation, with honors, also from the John Marshall Law School. Sarah returned to Florida in 2015 and joined McLin Burnsed in 2018, where she focuses on estate planning, corporate planning, and not-for-profit tax advice. Sarah works closely with financial advisors and certified public accountants to help her clients achieve their goals, and says she loves what she does. “What I like most is the business planning; helping small companies develop and achieve their goals,” Sarah says, explaining that every aspect of what she does is rewarding in its own way. “For the charitable planning and working with nonprofits, that’s something I’ve been doing since I was fresh out of law school. It’s just really interesting to help develop a new charity and to help other

Sarah Uhrik charitable organizations achieve their goals.” “It makes me feel really proud of my little charities when they grow up to accomplish great things. It’s like, ‘Look at my little kiddo go!’ I love that,” she adds. Going forward, Sarah’s goals, in line with that of other board members, include helping to grow the firm by developing young talent and growing the number of attorneys they have. Sarah says: “By doing that, I feel we can help the tri-county areas with more specialties and assist more clients in a comprehensive manner.”

In addition to her duties at McLin Burnsed, Sarah serves as a member of the Lake Sumter State College Executive Board, as an adjunct professor at Valencia College, and as a member of the young professional group of the Florida Law Network. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys going to the beach and traveling with her husband Dr. Matthew Uhrik, D.C., and two children, Ramona, 5, and Elliot, 3. Sarah says she appreciates the support she’s received from her family, especially Matthew, while working towards her career goals.

“Obviously, being a mom of young kids, you often need another mom/ wife/partner figure to assist with the “mom” duties when you’re trying to succeed in achieving a big career goal, so my husband has been a very flexible and understanding support system. He picked up all kinds of slack and I couldn’t have done this without him.” Sarah says. “As for my kids, my son is a little too young to have taken notice of what’s going on, but my daughter is super jazzed about it.” I came home and she said, “You’re a boss now, mom. And that makes me smile.”

LAKE SUMTER LANDING / 1028 Lake Sumter Landing, The Villages / 352.259.5011 LEGACY PLAZA in LEESBURG / 26736 US Highway 27, Suite 202, Leesburg / 352-787-1241

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Open to the public on weekends

Oct 1st - Dec 12th Admission: $15 Children 3 & under: Free

FUN FALL ACTIVITIES Giant 6.5 Acre Corn Maze • Half-Acre Mini Corn Maze Night Maze • Mist Maze • Amazing Giant Playground Farm Tours • Zip Line for Kids • Labyrinth • Picnic Area Fishing • Beer, Wine and Food • Live Music • And More!

W I N N E R 2021

26216 County Road 448A, Mount Dora 352.383.6900

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Sponsored by: Visit Lake

Do good. Bank better.

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School and community come together to positively impact students with tools needed for academic and personal success. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

enior Armoni LaSane, 17, says there’s great comfort in knowing there’s somewhere to go if you have a need, and that you can get it fulfilled, no questions asked, all judgment reserved. At Leesburg High School, where she attends, that place is The Rock, a room that encompasses a faith-based program many consider a Godsend. “The Rock is basically a home inside a home, because the school itself is a home when we’re here; we’re all family,” Armoni says, explaining that although she works at The Rock as a teacher assistant, assisting students navigate the program, she previously visited the center for things like hoodies to warm up when it got colder than she’d expected. “Say an emergency happens, or there’s stuff going on at home, you need a bit of food, something to wear, or just someone to talk to; you can come here. You may not feel comfortable going to anybody else, but I feel like you should feel

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≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL comfortable coming here because we honestly don’t judge. It’s really just to help; like a safety zone.” Students can visit The Rock, located in Building 1, Room 111, from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday – with a purpose and a teacher-issued pass in hand – for essential needs like food to eat at school or to take home, clothing, hygiene products, school supplies, peace and quiet, help with schoolwork, a listening ear, books, blankets, socks and under garments, gym shorts, a prayer or uplifting word, and more, depending on specific student needs. Parent and Family Resources Potential Specialist Lori Humphrey, who runs the program, says every item available at The Rock is donated by local churches or businesses, civic organizations, individuals, and local residential communities. She says in the three years since the program began, no student need has gone unfulfilled. “When they come in here, first of all, we’re gonna love them. Second of all, we’re gonna listen to them, and then after that,

we’re gonna find out what they need. If we don’t have it here, we’re gonna try to find it for them, and lastly, we follow up,” Lori says. “That’s the piece that’s missing sometimes with other agencies. They don’t have the manpower to follow-up with each person they help, but we’re able to since it’s our students we’re dealing with.” In Lake County, Leesburg High’s Rock is the first and only program of its kind at the high school level. Rocks have also been started at Oak Park and Umatilla Middle Schools and Rondo Fernandez, owner of the MoJo Grill and Catering in Leesburg, is behind all of them. Rondo says his eventual goal is to have the program instated at every Lake County school, much like what he did in Marion County, starting with Lake Weir High School where he went. Rondo says attending school there, and living in the big scrubs area just outside of the Ocala National Forest, motivated him into making a difference, based on his own experiences. “The rural poverty out there, and growing up with kids who didn’t have their basic necessities each and every day, and therefore, no confidence, just really opened my eyes to the need,” Rondo says. “We never had positive role models, we never had success stories, we lacked food, clothing, washers, dryers, so many things.” Reflecting back, he’s glad he was able to overcome those adversities, and now uses that to help encourage others. “I lived such a crazy life growing up, so it’s great to realize that things can change and that you can have a purpose in your life. It’s a good feeling and that’s what we want these kids to realize for themselves,” Rondo adds. Rondo says when he saw what the first Rock at Lake Weir did, he knew he wanted to reach more kids, so he began partnering with local community members to grow the program at other schools. “When we put our first rock at Lake Weir high school, it immediately changed the culture of the school, and that’s what’s been happening at every Rock location ever since,” Rondo says. “First,

Lori Humphry, Mike Randolph,and Mike Matheny

it becomes a refuge, then it becomes a foundation, but we knew that part would happen, which is why we called it “The Rock.” “What we didn’t realize is how much purpose it would end up giving these kids,” he explains. “It’s impossible for us to expect students to go out and excel when they are walking in the hallways with body odor, broken glasses, broken spirits, hungry, and with such a sever lack of their basic needs.” To get Leesburg’s Rock started, Rondo approached Mike Matheny, the pastor of Church of the Lake, who he’d met through the restaurant. Mike was on board with the program and immediately turned to Leesburg High School’s Principal Mike Randolph, who also loved the idea. When Lori was asked to oversee the program, she was so enthralled by its potential for making a real difference, that she decided to forego retiring after 25 years with the school system, like she’d been planning on doing. “I never dreamed I’d be working in the same room that was my senior English class,” Lori says, adding that she feels blessed to be part of the

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Armoni LaSane

program. “I tell my kids, I’m not a counselor, I’m not a mental health specialist, but I’m a momma, and sometimes, that’s all they need; just a momma.” Principal Randolph says before The Rock, there was a help program that offered food and clothes, but it was a literal mess. Today, The Rock is far from that and thriving, just like the kids using it. “What we had before made these kids feel like their circumstance, so now, our goal is for this room to feel like it doesn’t matter what your circumstance is, you are welcome here,” Principal Randolph says. “It’s about creating a good environment.” Pastor Mike says he wants every student who walks through the door to leave feeling motivated and inspired. “I don’t want them to come through here and just get something to meet their need; I want them to be proud of it. I want them to come in here and feel like it’s a real home, a place that puts some value in their life,” he says. Most of all Principal Randolph says he truly believes The Rock is a place of hope. He says the impact it has had on the school’s culture has been the best thing he’s seen since joining the Leesburg High family five years ago. “Oftentimes, you’ll hear teachers say, “We have your back, we’re gonna


support you,” but can you actually have tangible evidence of what that looks like? Principal Randolph asks. “Well, The Rock is Leesburg High School’s tangible evidence of telling our students we have your back. Anything you need, we have for you right here.” “In the last five years, our graduation rate has improved by 21 percent, and I credit that to programs and partnerships like The Rock that have aided that,” he adds. With that, Lori says if people are interested in helping, they can search ‘The Rock Leesburg High School’ on Facebook. Lori says she uses the page to post success stories, volunteer opportunities and happenings, but also to let people know what items are on her wish list for the students. She says currently, The Rock’s top needs are hygiene products, snacks, and food items for their kitchen store, plus gift cards

or monetary donations that can be put towards Christmas gifts and special student needs; like for instance, black shoe polish Derek Varvel, 15, needs for ROTC and asked for last month. Derek says he is new to the school after having moved from Eustis where he was living with his dad, to Leesburg, where is now staying with his mom. Derek says as a family, they are trying to keep their heads above water, so any help they can get is greatly appreciated. He says he and his mom were thrilled about the opportunity for him to join ROTC because it was not offered in Eustis but did not consider the costs associated with the program, which includes keeping his shoes polished, and uniform dry-cleaned. Derek says when he found out about The Rock, he was taken aback. “I was kind of surprised. I didn’t know that any school had anything like this, but it’s really helped me,” Derek says. “I just wish

more students knew about it because a lot of them are struggling right now with clothing, food and other things.” “If I were introducing The Rock to students, I’d tell them that this is just a way for people who care, to provide them with extra help, and that it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.” Lori says last year, 1,500 student checkins were recorded at The Rock and as of November, the program is on track with reaching similar numbers for the 2021-2022 school year. Rondo says he hopes those students receiving help will accept what also comes along with every item. “Everything we give comes with a message of ‘Keep holding on, keep fighting, you’ll be OK, you are loved, you’re amazing, be great,’” he says. “We make sure to say those things every day because we realize that a lot of kids never hear those words, and they should.”

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Vivacious in The Villages

A patchwork of philanthropy

Life’s a beach

Earlyn Davidson doesn’t do retirement life from a comfortable recliner. The Villager enjoys being active in numerous sports and activities.

By donating quilts, members of the Mulberry Quilters Chapter of The Villages Quilting Guild warm hearts and bodies.

Members of The Villages Parrotheads Club enthusiastically embrace the Jimmy Buffet lifestyle, which means toes in the sand while drinking a margarita.



Sweeten your Florida experience Raise your glass and enjoy one of the state’s hidden gems. COMMENTARY: JAMES COMBS

K, all you newbies to The Villages. We know you’re looking for fun activities not too far away from your new home. If you’re an oenophile (wine lover), then you can have a mini- Napa Valley experience right here in Florida. Yes, I said wine. That’s something we don’t associate with Florida. When you raise that glass and sip on tasty, fine wine, you must be drinking Napa Valley’s finest, right? Well, maybe. However, you could just as easily be sipping on some of Florida’s finest wine. Believe it or not, winemaking occurs in Florida, too. It just so happens that Lake County is home to the state’s largest winery. Lakeridge Winery officially opened its doors in February 1989. A trip here allows you to enjoy a lesson in wine making, a

tour of the facility, an opportunity to pick grapes, and even sample wine. Boasting a total tank capacity of 202,000 gallons, the company produces more than 1 million bottles each year. Of course, quality is more important than quantity. That explains why Lakeridge has received hundreds of awards for excellence in winemaking. Among its awardwinning wines are the smooth and rich Southern White; the classic semi-sweet and fruity Sunblush; the smooth, fruity Pink Crescendo and the spicy, semi-dry Blanc Du Bois. Most of the wine is made from Muscadine grapes, which are native to Florida and produce a sweeter, fruitier taste. The variety of Muscadine grapes used include the Carlos and Welder (both white grapes) and Noble (red grapes). In March, the grape vines start to flower, and the harvest season begins in June and continues throughout the summer.

Taking a tour at Lakeridge is a must. Visitors see up close and personal the large stainless-steel tanks where wine is fermented and stored prior to bottling. The tour also leads guests to a balcony offering a majestic view of the vineyard. In the background, you’ll see rolling hills. Locals jokingly refer to the hills as “the Rocky Mountains of Florida.” Lakeridge also is home to several festivals, including a summer music series and a grape-stomping event where visitors can feel the sensation of grape juice oozing between their toes. Yes, new residents to The Villages will have plenty of activities to enjoy not only in their retirement community but also throughout the state. However, attractions like Lakeridge Winery gives them an opportunity to explore local treasures without breaking the bank or waiting in long lines. We promise you’ll have a ‘grape’ time.

Villagers, do you have a topic that you'd like to see covered in The Villages? Send in your ideas, via email, to

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Healthy for the Holidays! HOLIDAY HOURS: Dec 24th — Closed Dec 25th — Closed Dec 31st — Closed Jan 1st — Closed CALL US FIRST! Even when our office is closed, you can reach someone at 352.205.4302 We offer video and phone visits that are easy and convenient!



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Active Villager Earlyn Davidson is known by her friends as ‘Lyn D’ and she lives life fully being involved in numerous sports and activities. INTERVIEWER: THERESA CAMPBELL


Call me Lyn D: My real name is Earlyn Davidson, and I go by Lyn with one N in my first name. Most people in The Villages know me as “Lyn D.”

What inspires me: Staying fit

Villages has been home: Five

My life before The Villages: I did

years this month.

part-time work for Discovery Cove, which was my relaxing time. I also played tennis, was a runner, and took Body Pump, and Body Flow at Celebration’s fitness center.

Moved here from: Celebration, Florida, the town Walt Disney built.

while having fun doing it.

How I fit everything I want to do into my life: I don't, but I try!

Made the move because: My husband told me this is where I should be, and I wasn't ready to leave Celebration. So, when I turned 60, I felt now was the time to move into a retirement community.

What I enjoy most about being in The Villages: All the activities that are offered.

Ways I keep active and busy: To keep physically active, I play tennis, pickleball, beach tennis, water volleyball, kickball, and disc golf. For the brain, I do Wright-Patterson Mah Jongg, samba, euchre, Pegs & Jokers. I also oversee three tennis groups: a ladies’ group, and two mixed doubles groups, and my playground pal, Buzz Bradbury, and I oversee beach tennis, kickball, and water volleyball.

One word that describes me: Active. Crossing item off my bucket list: I have achieved most of my bucket lists. However, I never did a full marathon. That would be nice, but since moving here, I don't plan on doing the time it takes to train.

To travel or not to travel: There are still a few places in the world I would like to visit but I’m not sure if that will happen as traveling has changed and it's not to my liking.

My philosophy on life: Only do what makes you happy and content; live your life not someone else’s.

Do you know an interesting Villager? Email

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Q A Q: What is body contouring? A: "Body contouring" is a sort of catch-all term referring to any procedure that is performed to change or enhance the contours of the body. Surgical procedures include liposuction, breast surgery, tummy tuck (abdominoplasty), and various lift surgeries (arm, thigh, trunk, etc.). Q: What is the difference between a tummy tuck and liposuction? A: Liposuction is removal of fat only, and can be either performed as a stand-alone procedure or in combination with other procedures, depending on the patient's specific needs. When liposuction is done by itself,

With Dr. Christina Yi of Village Institute of Plastic Surgery especially in larger volumes, the removal of fat alone may result in loose skin if one's skin has less elasticity. This lax skin may be treated with removal, like in a tummy tuck. A tummy tuck, or any "lift" surgery, is removal of excess skin and some fat in a specific area resulting in a slimmer, tighter contour. For example, an arm lift (Brachioplasty) removes excess or sagging skin from the arm, and a tummy tuck removes skin from the abdomen.

Q: How do I know which procedures would best fit my needs? A: Since everyone's needs and anatomy differs, it is best to meet with a plastic surgeon, like myself, to discuss your areas of concern. I can then make personalized recommendations to help

you safely achieve your aesthetic goals.

Q: What happens during a consultation? A: When you come in for your free consultation, we start with your aesthetic wants, medical history, and a physical exam. I like to take my time when meeting patients to fully understand their expectations and other factors, like lifestyle and reasons for surgery. Taking all of these into consideration, I develop your treatment plan and discuss the benefits and risks of your options. Before surgery, we have a preoperative visit to review care instructions and details of surgery day. I always encourage patients to bring up any questions or concerns—I want them to be fully informed and totally comfortable with their surgical plan.

352.259.8599 Face, Body and Breast Aesthetic Surger y


Sometimes, something as small as a quilt can carry a big message of love. STORY: JAMES COMBS


hey warm arms. They warm legs. And, most importantly, they warm hearts. Members of the Mulberry Quilters Chapter of The Villages Quilting Guild enthusiastically use their skillful hands to sew beautiful quilts and sow seeds of goodwill. The recipients of their generosity include child victims of human trafficking, terminally ill hospice patients, hardworking first responders, heroic military veteran, and abandoned dogs. Recently, the 67-member group made 17,000 facemasks that were distributed throughout the United States, as well as Mexico and Haiti. They also donated 100 quilts to the Child Advocacy Center in Gainesville, 40 wheelchair quilts to The Villages Hospice House, and 42 quilts to a local fire station.

The group tracks its expenses. In 2020, the Mulberry Chapter of The Villages Quilting Guild’s charitable projects totaled $60,000. Oftentimes, members work alone inside their homes. Finding enough space can be challenging. Their living room floors are covered with brightly colored squares of cloth and their walls are covered with yards of thick fabric. They may spend as many as 30 hours making a quilt before it’s sent off to someone they’ll likely never meet. But that’s perfectly fine with Carolyn Aymond, who serves as secretary of the club. She thinks nothing of giving hers away. “You have to let go of the quilts,” Carolyn says. “Once you give a quilt to somebody it’s theirs. You cannot control how someone uses the quilt. But we do know it provides comfort to that person, and the person receiving the quilt knows we put a lot of love into making the quilt. I don’t mind giving them away because I can’t keep them all anyway.” Sometimes, the women hear firsthand how they are making the world a little warmer and more

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Dale Angione

Althea Walker and Linda Cancilla

Diane Lyford

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colorful. In October, a representative from the Child Advocacy Center spoke at a club meeting and talked about the prevalence of child abuse. In 2020, the CAC in Gainesville received more than 2,000 reports of child abuse. Fifty children were rescued from human traffickers. For those children, a quilt is something to hold onto. Just the warmth of covering their body is comforting. “These children have to endure the stress of being interviewed by police officers and social workers,” says Dale Angione, who formed the Mulberry Quilters Chapter of The Villages Quilting Guild in 2003. “When they come in, they have a choice of picking one of our quilts or picking from a box of toys. Nine out of 10 times they choose our quilts. They enjoy having something bright and colorful to wrap themselves in.” Every cut, stitch, and tie in producing a quilt is a reminder to the needy that they’re loved and never forgotten. “It’s great to use our artistic talent to make someone’s life better,” says Barbara Morse, who has been a member of the club since 2010. “I especially love when one of my quilts is given to a child. For them, the quilt feels like protection.” Here’s the kicker: adults like them just as much. In fact, Fire Station 10 in Marion County contacted the group and requested quilts for their firefighters. “One of the young men said that we can’t tell you enough how much the quilts mean to them,” says Althea Walker, who handles the club’s charitable affairs. “It’s the right thing to do.” Doing the right thing sometimes means paying out of pocket for necessary equipment such as sewing

machines, fabric, batting, pins, needles, and thread. That doesn’t entail cutting corners. “Quilters are generous with their time and pocketbooks,” Dale says. “If they find fabric in a kit they don’t like, they will go out and buy their own fabric in order to make the quilt look appeasing. If you put time and energy into a quilting project, you want it to look good. Just because our quilts are being given to poor

QUILTING BY THE NUMBERS • The estimated size of the quilting market in 2020 was $4.2 billion, up from $3.8 billion in 2014. • The quilting market is expected to grow by $5 billion by 2026. • The U.S. has between 10 million and 12 million quilters. • The average quilter is a retired woman in her 60s. • Ninety-eight percent of quilting consumers are female, and 65 percent are retired. • The average quilter has been enjoying the hobby for more than 10 years and spends six hours each week working on projects. Source: Quilting Trends Survey Results 2020, Quilting Trends Survey Results 2021

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people or people in dire straits doesn’t mean they should be presented with something that doesn’t look nice.”

The art of quilting The Mulberry Quilters Chapter of The Villages Quilting Guild is one of 29 quilting guilds in The Villages. The group meets every Tuesday at the Mulberry Recreation Center at 9 a.m. Quilting can be traced back to ancient Egypt, and members continue the legacy of their forebearers, though their hobby has evolved into more of an art form. They combine imagination and meticulous sewing and tying skills to create beautiful artwork in the form of fabric. Dale took up the hobby in 1996 and retired one year later after spending 35 years as a schoolteacher. She began taking quilting classes at Commack High School North in New York. “I’m not the kind of person who sits for very long,” she says. “I need something to do to keep my mind active.” After moving to The Villages, she became a member of the Quilting Bees, which met at Paradise Recreation Center. “When Mulberry opened in 2003, I was excited to have a new recreation center and decided to start off fresh by forming a new quilting guild,” she says. “We had 26 sign up the first day, and before the month was over, we had reached our full capacity of 65.” Dale started attending classes at a quilt shop in Leesburg and before long found herself teaching quilting classes inside and outside The Villages. She has seen the hobby progress significantly in the past 25 years.

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“The quilting world has just exploded,” she says. “There are so many more tools available to use. Quilting is constantly changing and moving. That’s why I love quilting.” Dale typically makes between eight and 10 quilts a year. Some are simple. Others are more elaborate. “Sometimes, I’ll spend an entire year on just one quilt,” she says. “I’ll start on it and then put it away. Then I come back to it. The quilts that are intricate take much more time. I do them in pieces. I love designing the quilts— following a pattern and picking out different colors I want to use. I’m also able to utilize new techniques and the new tools coming out.” Barbara is equally passionate about the hobby. She joined the Mulberry Quilters in 2010, fulfilling a longtime desire to learn the art of quilting. “Quilting is not hard to learn when you’re surrounded by people who are willing to share their knowledge with you,” Barbara says. “Though I had sewing experience, I had never sewed garments. I really love quilting because even though it takes time to make a quilt, you can see results more quickly. You choose colors and then designs within those colors. It’s a very creative hobby.” Barbara says that her favorite quilt is “the last one I just finished.” However, one of her first quilts she made featured a yellow brick road pattern in pink given to her newborn granddaughter. That same year, she also made her mother a quilt using the same pattern but in yellow and green. The quilts looked completely different. “My mom loved it and still has it today,” Barbara says. “In fact, she keeps it on her chair. The quilt is important to her. I love giving my quilts as a gift to my

10 FUN FACTS ABOUT QUILTING 1. Quilt is derived from the Latin word culcita, which means “stuffed sack.” 2. The earliest depiction of quilting was discovered in Egypt in 3400 B.C. It was an ivory figurine of a pharaoh wearing quilted clothing. 3. The earliest-known quilt made in America is from 1704.

4. When settlers expanded into the western United States, quilts were used as window coverings, doors, and walls for temporary housing.

when the counterculture movement encouraged people to get back to their early industrial roots.

5. Though sewing machines were invented in 1790, hand quilting was still more popular for the next 100 years.

7. In 1971, Jonathan Holstein opened the first quilt exhibition in a major museum. It was titled, “Abstract Design in American Quilts.”

6. Quilting enjoyed a rebirth in the 1960s

8. The most expensive quilt ever sold was a Civil

family members because it put my heart and soul into it. I put a piece of myself into every quilt I make.” For Barbara, some quilts have sentimental value. Hanging in her home is a quilt designed with various blocks, each one depicting a special memory from her mother’s teenage years. The quilt is affectionately named “Homefront: Memories of my Mother 1939-1947.” “I had my mother pick out the blocks that meant the most to her story,” Barbara says. “On the back of the quilt are pieces of fabric that tell the story of each individual block.” Of course, while the hobby itself is rewarding, there’s something special about donating their handcrafted work to people in need. “We live in The Villages and we’re retired, so we are happy to give back,” Carolyn says. “We have eight hours in the day and seven days a week. We don’t just want to play. There are a lot of people hurting who don’t have enough money to buy for their kids or afford school clothes. We love putting a smile on their faces.”

War-era piece purchased for $254,000 in 1991. 9. Dedicated quilters buy, on average, 99 yards of fabric a year. That’s one yard short of the length of a football field. 10. Dedicated quilters spend eight hours online per week visiting quilting sites and groups. Source:



Parrot heads in Paradise Meet a club that comes together for fun and charity. STORY: JAMES COMBS

hey don’t have meetings. They have phlockings. They don’t have a good time. They have phun. Ask them about their phavorite songs, and you’ll likely receive answers like “Come Monday” and “Son of a Son of a Sailor.” Good times, good music, and charitable work are all a big part of being members of The Villages Parrotheads Club, which has a propensity for substituting the letters “ph” (for parrothead) in words that start with the letter “f.” When you think Parrothead, you think Jimmy Buffet. And when you think Jimmy Buffet, you think “Margaritaville.” The term Parrothead and Jimmy Buffet became intertwined in 1985 during a concert in Ohio. Those in the audience wore tropical dresses, Hawaiian shirts, and put inflatable parrots on their head. Parrotheads were born and soon spread their wings to create clubs throughout the country. Today, more than 200 Parrothead clubs exist. With 1,150 members, The Villages Parrotheads Club is the country’s largest. Jimmy’s songs about island escapism appeal to his legion of fans. “It’s not that we’re all die-hard Jimmy Buffet fans,” says Mark “The Shark” Woodland, who is president of the club. “We like what he sings about. His songs are about maintaining a relaxing lifestyle, enjoying yourself, and helping others.” Of course, Mark is a big fan of Jimmy. He has attended 23 of his concerts and will attend his 24th concert in December. He joined the club immediately after moving to The Villages in 2014.

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Photos provided by Lisa MacLeod.


“We’re retired now,” he says. “We want to relax and have something to look forward to each week.” That’s one reason why the club’s motto is “party with a purpose.” Yes, there are times members don Hawaiian shirts and floppy hats with their toes dug into a sandy beach while sipping on a “frozen concoction” or munching on a “cheeseburger in paradise.” “Our club members went to a hotel in Daytona and brought in four bands that played in two days,” Mark says. “We relaxed, danced, and listened to music. We had a great time.” The club has a travel committee that organizes trips. Past getaways have included dinner shows in Orlando and driving to Mount Dora for the Christmas light show. However, life as a club member isn’t all about beaches, booze, and boats. They like to party, yes, but they also engage in considerable philanthropic activities. For instance, members organize annual golf cart poker runs and golf tournaments, both of which raise between $15,000 to $20,000. They donated to organizations such

as Cornerstone Hospice, Operation Shoebox, Wildwood Middle School, and Shepherd’s LightHouse. They also hold the second-largest blood drive in Florida. In 2021, members donated 1,500 pints of blood. One pint of blood can potentially save three lives, according to the American Red Cross. “The people in our club are so generous and friendly,” Mark says. “We’re great about helping people, and that’s why our club has such a good reputation and why we get so many members. Each day, we aim to leave the world a little better than we found it. Our members definitely accomplish that.” Steve Larson agrees. He has been a member for 10 years and organizes the club’s newsletter and website. “This club is my primary social circle in The Villages,” he says. “I love the people, the parties, and the trips. I also love helping people who need help.” Indeed, Parrotheads are a phun and phantastic group of people. For more information, visit

Want to see your club in Social Club Spotlight? Send your suggestions to


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‘Anxious People’ By Fredrik Backman. A story about a robbery gone wrong, and the series of events, peppered with the antics of complicated characters that transpires afterwards. STORY: KATHY PORTER

he book "Anxious People” is Swedish author Fredrick Backman’s fifth novel, and it certainly is very different from his previous stories. However, Backman’s knack for developing unusual characters shines through. In a suburb of Stockholm, a man very much down on his luck tries to rob a bank of $6,500. What he doesn’t realize is that he has chosen a cashless bank to rob. He flees from the scene and, as he attempts to evade capture, stumbles into an apartment that is currently the site of an open house. He has no other choice but to take the people attending the open house as hostages. This unlikely group of people consists of a rather wacky real estate agent; a retired couple who buy fixer upper apartments but have marital problems; a young couple about to have their first child who can’t agree on anything; a wealthy bank director who cares about only herself; an 87-year-old woman who is not afraid of anyone; and a mysterious man who has locked himself in the bathroom.

Enter two detectives, Jim and Jack, a father-and-son duo who each have their own issues and do not work particularly well together. As the first responders arrive to handle the hostage situation, their bosses tell them to wait for a hostage negotiator being sent from Stockholm. The negotiator gets stuck in traffic and never arrives. The so-called bank robber lets the hostages go. A shot is fired, and as Jack enters the apartment he sees blood on the floor, but the bank robber is nowhere to be found. The bank teller and the hostages are brought in for questioning. We quickly learn that these are the worst hostages in the world. They are a group of unusual characters who are weighed down by their doubts, worries, hurts, and secrets. It promptly becomes apparent that the haughty bank teller is not cooperating, and that the hostages are lying. Thus begins a chain of events that no one could foresee. Backman has once again delivered an entertaining story with complex characters and their quirky personalities.

Want to learn more about the characters, their quirks, and about what may have happened to the bank robber? “Anxious People” can be found at Target, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon.

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A Lasting Memory It is our goal to help you say goodbye to your special friend in the most caring and understanding way.

“A way to provide the respect and loyalty after death that your pet freely gave in life”

Lisa Elliott

Crematory Director

Central Florida Pet Crematory has been serving Lake and Marion Counties since 2002.

352.307.2256 // 10725 SE 36th Ave

building unique pools

We know that every single customer is unique—Building Unique Pools is our company motto—and so every project we undertake is delivered to a client’s signature set of personal tastes and, where necessary, solves any challenges their property may present.

“Our family could not be happier with the way our pool turned out. Our design was very unique with features that Wiseman Pools incorporated without issue. It was a pleasure doing business with an honest company and our family and friends look forward to more wonderful memories at our beautiful Ocala Oasis.” Wiseman Pools is a family-owned-and-operated, licensed residential and commercial swimming pool builder with an extensive portfolio of projects. From the small—fountains and in-ground spas. To the large—million dollar installations with multiple pools and spas. Our customers, large and small, demand a quality swimming pool for a fair price. And we deliver.

352.431.3766 | | 1517 W Main St., Leesburg


Cancer, COVID-19, and the

Holidays PAID




he holidays can be stressful, even without cancer’s added challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic can raise stress levels even further. Wendy Hall, LCSW, offers these ways to cope.

1. Keep things simple. The side effects from cancer and its treatment can ramp up your fatigue and lower your immunity, so focus on just one or two traditions that are special to you. If you are social distancing from friends and family, consider modifying some traditions, like visiting online rather than in person. Some websites can also let you post audio and video greetings for loved ones to enjoy. 2. Shop online. Large crowds can be stressful in the best of times. Cancer can make those crowds harder to navigate, and a pandemic can increase infection risk even for people without health issues. Shopping online has become the answer for many. Most stores have great customer service staff available to help. Due to the pandemic, some neighborhood stores may now offer home delivery. Gift cards can also be bought online. 3. Love is priceless. If money is tight, heartfelt, homemade gifts and “Thinking of You” notes go a long way to let someone know they are in your thoughts. If you are social distancing, you can send a digital creation or greeting.

4. Ask for help. People will want to know how you are doing. Consider sharing that information via email or in a video greeting. You can ask a close friend to share the details if doing so directly makes you feel uncomfortable. If you are gathering in person for the holidays, asking guests to bring a dish to share can keep your work load from becoming overwhelming. 5. Learn and accept your limitations. If you visit others, be aware of the physical stress that entertaining and traveling puts on your body. Use discretion when selecting which holiday invitations to accept. If you go out of town, consider staying in a hotel instead of in a family member’s home. This may help you relax and restore your energy and give you more control over your space and time. 6. Remember the true meaning of the holidays. Finally, don’t concentrate on what may be missing or is different from past holidays. Try to focus on the present moment and enjoy your celebration in whatever form it takes. Remember what the holidays are truly about: a time for renewed friendships, being thankful, and sharing with others. We are here to help. Call our social workers Wendy Hall, LCSW at 352-527-0106 or Amy Roberts, LCSW at 352-732-0277 with any questions or concerns.


US Adults practicing meditation in 2017, National Health Interview Survey (more than three times the percentage from 2012)


Annual drop People saying finances are the greatest cause of stress during the holidays (Healthline survey, 2019)


Harris Poll (September 2021) respondents vaccinated against Covid-19 who said they would be very or somewhat uncomfortable with attending large parties or gatherings


Americans with children who start to feel stressed about the holiday season by the beginning of November (Total Brain survey, 2019)

Give Yourself the Gift of Mindfulness Meditation can be done anywhere and anytime without special equipment or an expensive membership. Let Amy Roberts, LCSW, take you through guided meditation that addresses a variety of issues. Sessions can help you reduce anxiety, experience gratitude, release worries and regrets, and simply relax. You can also join RBOI’s weekly meditation group. All sessions are free of charge. Visit and click on “Guided Meditation” under “Cancer Support.” Relax your mind and breathe easy this holiday season and beyond.

Patient-centered radiation oncology close to home The Villages 352.259.2200 Ocala 352.732.0277 Timber Ridge 352.861.2400 Inverness 352.726.3400 Lecanto 352.527.0106

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healthy living MIND. BODY. SPIRIT.

These days, Marcela Malvido is barefoot and bubbly. She practices grounding, which involves connecting oneself to the earth’s natural energy.

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Dancing for health David Whittaker: ‘Life is a journey. Do the things that make you feel good, keep you healthy, and active.’ STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL


eaching social and ballroom dancing has been David Whittaker’s livelihood, but when a Leesburg dance studio was forced to close in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, he began doing odd jobs and exterior house painting to make ends meet. However, painting really wasn’t his thing. “I decided I had to do something that was more for me,” David says of opening the Dave Wade Studio of Social and Stage Arts in Fruitland Park. Wade is his middle name and the studio’s interior is decorated to pay tribute to the town’s rich history. As people became vaccinated and followed safety precautions, David was pleased to see them return to social dancing again, including seniors in their 90s. His oldest students are 96, a married couple. “People should have fun, no matter their age, and I have found dance is sort of infectious,” he says. “The ones that are 90, invite their 90-year-old friends and so I have a whole crew, and I’ve learned so much from that age group. I’ve learned that life is a journey.” David works with students at their physical capabilities, including those who have had hip and knee replacements. He shows them how to get their feet in the right position

to make enjoyable dance turns without hurting themselves. “One of the big things for me is seeing someone who had a hard time walking to actually walk and feel like they are not going to fall and seeing their balance is so much better. They are taking longer strides, their posture is better, they have more energy, they’re happy, and you can see 10 to 20 years just go off when they dance. It’s remarkable that I get to experience it,” David says, adding students have told him their doctors are pleased, saying: “Whatever you’re doing, keep it going.” He knows from personal experience dance eases arthritis pain. “With me, I only think about it when it bothers me, because I’m too busy moving, so the movement helps, and I don’t think about it. I put on music and dance.” David began dancing as a teen in upstate New York, when he got a part as a shark in the musical “West Side Story.” After graduating college, he moved to Florida in the 1980s, and has been dancing ever since. “My advice is to do the things that you want to do, that you love to do that make you feel good, keeps you healthy, young, and active,” says David. He plans to continue to host public dance parties at his studio, including a New Year’s Eve dance, and his goals for 2022 are to finish writing a book and to produce a national pageant involving dance.

Do you know someone who is a healthy inspiration? Email your recommendations to

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29 YEARS Of Innovation In Cardiovascular Care Reaching one of life’s milestones is cause for celebration.


Moises Fraifeld, MD, FACC Miguel Bryce, MD, FACC Adina Ion, MD Rama Krishna, MD, FACC, FSCAI Theresa Mills, MD, FACC J. Henry Lesmes, MD, FACC Samuel Goss, MD, FACC

Cardiovascular Associates is proud to celebrate 29 years of providing the latest in cardiovascular care to our patients. As a full service cardiology practice we were the first to bring comprehensive cardiac care—including nuclear medicine and heart catheterizations—to Lake County. We were also the first in the country to offer cardiac electrophysiology (EP) and establish accredited echocardiography and nuclear medicine labs. We also opened Lake County’s first cardiac PET lab, which includes the latest in image technology and diagnostic accuracy. All of us at CVA say a “hearty thank you” to all our patients and referring physicians for allowing us the privilege of providing innovative cardiovascular care for 29 years.

LEESBURG 352.323.5700 – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday 705 Doctors Court - across from UF Health Leesburg

TAVARES 352.742.1171 – 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday 1879 Nightingale Lane, Suite A-1 & C-1 - across from AdventHealth Waterman


You’re grounded! Looking to feel better, heart, mind, and soul? Just kick off your shoes, walk, and soak up some Vitamin ‘G.’ STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

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lermont’s Marcela Malvido believes that everyone really should be grounded daily, and whether or not they’ve done anything to cause or get into trouble, has absolutely nothing to do with it. What Marcela is referring to is an alternative medicine practice called grounding, or “earthing,” and it involves connecting oneself to the earth’s natural energy. With that, Marcela, a licensed massage therapist with a background in theology and religious sciences, says that earthing is easily accessible to anyone with the desire to try it, because all it involves is a commitment to spend some time outdoors with an open mind, and one condition – bare tootsies. The next step would by finding a place where you can easily put your feet in direct contact with the ground, or other natural surfaces like grass, sand, and water. You can visit any park or a place with soft grass to walk on, along the beach where the sand and water are salty, mimicking the healing qualities of a salt cave, lakeside where there is a shallow area you can immerse your feet in, or any quiet place outdoors you find peaceful and that lends itself to bare feet. It also works with other parts of the body, so sitting or lying on the ground are alternate ways of earthing or grounding. The point is physically connecting to the electrons that come from the earth and letting them flow into you to get grounded. As far as the origin of grounding, it goes back thousands of years to early ancestors whose lifestyles historically included more time outside, working, cooking, playing, meeting, and even sleeping on the ground. Many visionaries have touted the earth’s energy and power, and a man named Clint Ober is credited with modernizing the technique. Clint, a cable TV professional, later turned grounding expert, discovered, because of health issues he went through, that much like getting good television reception involves getting “grounded,” people could benefit from getting grounded, too. On, a website of Clint’s where people can purchase products to help get grounded at home, an explanation of grounding’s origins says, “We live our lives mostly insulated from the earth (wearing rubber-soled shoes, living indoors, driving our cars, etc.). Over time, this causes our bodies to become depleted. Touching the ground replenishes

our electron balance and restores our lost connection to the earth’s energy.” According to, another online site dedicated to earthing, and backed by extensive research: “Earthing, or grounding as it is often called, connects you to this overlooked natural energy that nurtures and balances your body at the deepest levels, draining it of inflammation, pain, stress, and fatigue.” Scientific studies have shown that the technique helps with muscle damage, chronic pain, cardiovascular disease, sleeplessness, reducing inflammation, your mood, and more. It can also speed healing time, help keep you looking and feeling younger, and alleviate headaches. By simply walking barefoot you begin to recharge your body with that direct connection to Mother Earth, and your energy is boosted naturally. Marcela explains further: “We are electromagnetic, and the earth is electromagnetic, and we can easily connect our energy to the earth’s energy, take it in, and experience so much. A lot of sicknesses, stress, and anxiety go away with grounding. It’s just negative positive ions, that’s it, there’s nothing else, it’s just pure science.” Ana Lores, a metaphysical practitioner, massage therapist, and friend of Marcela’s, in town from Miami to visit her sister, says if going outside is not an option, whether it’s because of inclement weather or the inability to do so health wise, there

Ana Lores and Marcela Malvido

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Marcela Malvido

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are other means for grounding indoors, including the use of a grounding mat, which works well as a substitute for direct contact with the earth. In lieu of walking barefoot or lying on the ground outside, you simply step on or lay in your bed on a grounding mat, that when plugged into a grounding port, simulates the earth’s electric current. Overall, and in whatever way it’s achieved, Ana also swears by grounding. She says it’s something she probably experienced as a child, but didn’t know it, much like many others who enjoy running around barefoot outside and everywhere. She says it is probably why kids are generally so happy, energetic, and able to bounce back easily from most challenges. “When I was a little girl, I loved being barefoot, being outside, and exploring,” Ana says, adding that today, she does the same thing but by means of gardening, and yes, still barefoot. She also likes cooking while barefoot because she feels more creative. “The feeling you get from grounding is intense. You feel the intensity of the earth and it’s like you start living solely in the present time,” Ana says. “You’re no longer lost in the problems of your past or in the fears of the future; you are just living in the here and now.” “You release everything, you allow your energy to flow into the earth and the earth’s energy to flow into you,” she continues. Marcela says sometimes people feel a subtle surge, or a tingling sensation when grounding, and some simply feel better or at peace. Either way, she calls it life changing. “You actually feel energy, like a field of energy inside and around you, and you think, ‘Wow! What is that? is that me?” Marcela says. “When I am helping someone learn grounding, I tell them that whatever they are feeling is ok. I ask them, ‘Do you feel your powers? Your energy? Happiness? That’s a good thing. You are creative, you are inspired, you are powerful.” Marcela says she even grounds people before massages and uses singing bowls to promote relaxation and healing. Additionally, Marcela provides guided meditations for people who want to experience the effects of grounding but don’t know quite where to start.


She says people in Clermont are lucky because the city takes meticulous care of Waterfront Park, her favorite spot for connecting with nature. Marcela says Waterfront Park has a beach and shoreline people can walk along, grassy areas and plenty of trees, since they are also a very popular calming source. Marcela even has a special meditation for that type of grounding, sometimes referred to as tree hugging, which includes imagining roots extending from the bottom of your feet, and connecting with the roots of the trees. She then calls out the various chakras going up the body, and all the way to the crown chakra, where she helps people connect with the stars by imagining filaments of lights shooting out into the stars and sky, then back down to the feet again. During a guided grounding mediation Marcela led for Ana, Style photographer Nicole and I, Marcela says, “Breathe in and connect with your lungs, with the beat of your heart, connect with your body. Think about our feet growing roots, connect with the earth, and connect these roots to all the roots and the trees around you,” she says. “We are one. Like the tree is absorbing all the nutrients from the earth, our roots are doing the same. And we are going to breathe in and bring all these nutrients to our feet, breathe out, and transport all these nutrients to your feet, to your legs, to your hips, to your thorax, to your heart.” In all, Marcela says grounding is something people should make a habit of, and to prepare, they should hydrate to balance their electrolytes. She also says wearing or holding black tourmaline (rocks) can help with grounding, as can petting a dog or cat since their paws are naturally and always grounded with the earth. Additionally, Marcela says water contains a strong electromagnetic field, and attracts energy – or lightning, in the case of storm. She explains that it is the reason people always say not to be in the water, like at the beach, a swimming pool, or taking a shower, during a thunder/lightning storm. Walking barefoot in it, however, on a nice day, can be beneficial. “In Spanish, the word for grounding is “Raizer,” it means ‘to root.’ So grounding, or rooting yourself, is completely natural,” she says, adding that grounding for about 20-30 minutes a day could make all the difference emotionally, spiritually and physically. Ana says, “Grounding can really help people see life differently.” Marcela also compares the feeling of connecting with Mother Earth to that feeling of comfort you feel when receiving the best hug from someone like your mom or grandma. “You feel in agreement with yourself and as you’re taking that in, you tell yourself that you want to be connected. You say, ‘I want to feel the amazing hug of my Mother Earth.’ Then, you feel it, you feel her energy, you feel her love and it’s soothing.”

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Zechariah Montera Registered Investment Services Associate

Casey O’Rourke Wealth Advisor

Thomas Fross President, Wealth Advisor

Renee Springstead Wealth Advisor

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Investing in Life Together Fross & Fross continues its 20-plus year commitment of treating clients as family. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

Geoffrey Southwell Wealth Advisor

Patrick Fross, RICP® Vice President, Wealth Advisor

Fross & Fross Wealth Management has been servicing families in The Villages for more than two decades with personalized care and compassion, and that devoted commitment will continue. The firm announced it plans to open a second Villages location in the downtown Brownwood area, 2662 West Torch Drive, by spring 2022. “As we saw the phenomenal growth taking place south of State Road 44, we also saw the need to expand locations so we could service our clients that live in that new area,” says Thomas “Thom” Fross, president and CEO of Fross & Fross. The professionals at the firm specializes in providing customized asset management and investment strategies to its clients, helping them navigate drastic changes in the market environment and the ever-changing investment landscape. “There are no mulligans in retirement,” says Thom. “Most clients have never retired before; this is unchartered territory for them, and this is the one and only shot they have. Fortunately for them, we’ve gone through this process with hundreds of clients. It’s not unchartered territory for us. We’ve retired with client after client, and they are leaning on us for our expertise.” Thom adds: “We are staying true to our philosophy of being selective with the people we work with, but we have added additional staff to better serve our clients.

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It’s better service to our clients and that’s our aim.” As The Villages has grown over the years, so has Fross & Fross. “I remember when we had $30 million under advisement and we now service over $900 million and we’re pushing to a billion dollars in brokerage and advisory assets through LPL Financial, so we have had nice growth,” says Thom. “It was never our goal to be so large. We tried to stay small and take care of clients, but we became big because clients appreciate the personal touch. The growth naturally happened because our clients didn’t keep us a secret.” In 2018, our team became a part of LPL Financial, the largest * independent broker/deal-

provide financial confidence through knowledgeable, independent, and ethical advice. Thom says the firm remains committed to its mission and clients. “We want them to realize they are unique, and they have unique needs, and we feel a deep responsibility of serving as an advocate of every financial aspect of their life.” “We often ask ourselves, ‘If this were Mom and Dad sitting here, what advice would I give them?’ If we treat clients like family, we treat them the way we would treat our parents,” adds Patrick Fross, RICP, vice president and wealth advisor. “We make a personal connection and clients thank us regularly. The best compliment is they bring their kids

er in the United States for 21 years straight. LPL shares the same philosophy that Fross & Fross does by stating on their website that “social responsibility is integral to who we are as a company, how we interact with each other, our communities, and our planet, and how we conduct business.” Fross & Fross lives by its mission statement, which reads: We believe our clients have unique needs and deserve an advocate. We exist to

to us to manage their kids’ money; they refer friends to us, and referrals are just a wonderful compliment.” Patrick holds the Retirement Income Certified Professional designation**. He notes Fross & Fross believes in the “one size does not fit all” philosophy, and he provides in-depth financial planning for those newly retired or about to retire. “Clients need to know if there is sustainability in a portfolio for the next 30 years,”

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Patrick says. “Everything changes at retirement—wealth distribution and wealth protection. We do not pigeon-hole clients into one specific product. Their goals, objectives, and needs dictate our plans.” Patrick values how Fross & Fross provides a team approach in serving clients. “Growth is a natural, evolutionary part of business,” he says. “Rather than turn clients away, we have increased staff making us able to assist new clients and still provide the Ritz-Carlton experience for those already with us.” Fross & Fross wealth advisers note mortality tables reveal one in three individuals could still be alive at age 95. They hear people express valid concerns on whether they will have enough money, even wealthy people wonder if they will run out of money before they run out of breath? “A lot of retirees are still experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder from what happened during past market crashes. They are very concerned about being sure their portfolios can withstand turbulent times in the market,” says Thom. “As a full-service financial firm, we’re going to step in with a very holistic approach of fully understanding their budget

needs, what their bucket list items are, and helping them pursue their goals while they still have the time and energy to do those things.” Each client receives a personalized plan for his or her household needs. “There is no cookie-cutter plan at Fross & Fross,” says Thom. The firm’s Lake Sumter Landing front office entrance features a statue of a bear and bull on a teeter totter. “We were trying to illustrate the delicate balance between the bear and the bull market,” adds Thom. “You can’t go in with blinders on thinking we’ll be able to balance the two; we have to structure the portfolio to plan for the market doing well, but at the same time have a plan set in place for the market not to do well.” He says in many cases clients’ investments are their pensions, so to maintain their lifestyle, they must be sure the value of their portfolio remains stable or grows to keep up with inflation. “Our clients are sophisticated. Their money has been in the market, so they fully understand market risks,” Thom says, adding their clients value aiming for better returns in the market than what fixed investments provide. “They can afford a

Fross & Fross provides access to all types of investments and the following financial services: • Comprehensive Financial Lifestyle Planning • Legacy, Estate, and Philanthropy Planning level of risk, and the way we structure our portfolios is clearly finding the level of risk they can accept, and then customizing the portfolio. That is where we specialize.” Because of the current low interest rate environment, Thom notes to stay risk free might result in a “minuscule” retirement since CDs are not producing enough income nor do they offer inflation protection for many clients. At Fross & Fross, accounts are monitored regularly to ensure they perform according to the intention of the client. When circumstances change or a shifting global market requires a different approach, the firm never hesitates to make adjustments and keep clients informed. Geoffrey Southwell joined Fross & Fross in January 2021 after being a wealth advisor for over three decades with TIAA, and he recalls being very impressed how the entire staff of Fross & Fross shows care and compassion for clients. “Since I have been in the business for over 30 years, what really strikes me as unique about Fross & Fross is the level of client focus and caring for the clients more than any other firm. It makes me feel really good about where I work,” says Geoffrey. Fross & Fross also extends the compassion and caring to women, including those who are recently widowed or divorced. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, men have a 60 percent higher mortality rate than women. “We have noticed this to be true in The Villages and have taken steps to anticipate the needs this fosters,” says

Renée Springstead, the firm’s first female financial advisor. Renée understands firsthand that financial planning and investments for women is essential. She originally came to Fross & Fross as a client. “I know personally as you’re going through this kind of difficulty, it’s good to have a team on your side,” Reneé says, who sees herself as a team member with these women. She often provides them with the finer points of budgeting and financial planning, helping them transition to a new way of life. “As you deepen these relationships, the women become more comfortable with the financial aspects, and I feel I become their teacher, counselor, and confidante as well as a shoulder to cry on when needed,” says Reneé says, who strives to empower her clients and educate them on how to make the best decisions for their personal financial future. “Women have been an underserved and underestimated part of the population. My goal is to take them from being uninvolved in their finances to being confident in their financial picture,” says Reneé. One way she does this is by offering “Teatime with Reneé,” a support group for about 80 widows to broaden their social circle while meeting for fellowship, an entertaining educational program, along with gaining some financial knowledge from Reneé. “It has been a very, very rewarding part of my career,” Reneé says adding the widow women have “a special place in my heart.” She also serves as a Fross & Fross firm wealth adviser for couples, children of families, and area entrepreneurs.

• Tax Minimization Strategies • Risk Management and Asset Preservation • Enhanced Portfolio Reporting • Frequent Communication and Education • VIP Access to Private Client Events

Fross & Fross w e alth

m a na g e m e nt

352.205.7800 910 Old Camp Road, Lake Sumter Landing *As reported by Financial Planning magazine, June 1996-2020, based on total revenue. **RICP conferred by The American College. Securities and Advisory services offered through LPL Financial. A registered investment advisor. Member FINRA &SIPC. All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. The views listed above of brokerage clients, may not be representative of the views of other clients and are not indicative of future performance or success.

Come Home for the Holidays




Schedule your personalized experience today! THE VILLAGES CROSSING

ASSISTED LIVING AND MEMORY CARE 13517 NE 86th Court | Lady Lake, FL 32159

(352) 329-6612


ASSISTED LIVING AND MEMORY CARE 1477 Huey Street | Wildwood, FL 34785

(352) 656-7971

ALF# 13179/12467


Lori Brenneman loves making jewelry. For her customers, a little sparkle helps lift them into a festive spirit.

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dec. 2021



Let the holidays begin The City of Clermont’s holiday and light-up festivities will take over downtown with plenty of activities for everyone, starting at 5:30 p.m. Friday, including live musical entertainment by the “Landsharks,” a food court, tree lighting ceremony, stilt walkers, carolers, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and much more. Saturday will kick-off with a Hometown Parade at 10 a.m. in downtown Clermont, followed by community acts and vendors until 2 p.m., and two free showings of “Lessons and Carols” at the Clermont Performing Arts Center on U.S. Highway 27, at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 3-4 / 685 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.394.3500.

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Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? Then drive to Mount Dora’s Donnelly Park and give your children and opportunity to go snow sledding and enjoy holiday entertainment. Attendees are encouraged to collect perishable food items for Lake Cares Food Pantry.



Dec. 11 / 530 Donnelly Park, Mount Dora / 352.735.7183

Enjoy quality entertainment on the many stages of Lake and Sumter counties.


HELLO 2022



Melon Patch Theatre in Leesburg presents Broadway writer Patrick Barlow’s thrilling adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” Some of Charles Dickens’ most beloved characters are brought to life, including Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and Bob Cratchit. Melon Patch Theatre 311 N. 13th St., Leesburg / 352.787.3013



Ring in a new year at Sunset Park in Mount Dora, where food, beverages, vendors, and fireworks await partygoers. Dec. 31 / 230 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora / 352.735.7183



Come to Anastassia Ballroom and Dance in Leesburg and witness the magic unfold as young heroine Marya faces off in an epic battle with the Nutcracker. This show can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Anastassia Ballroom and Dance 32624 Blossom Lane, Leesburg / 352.533.7400





‘Tis the season to remain in shape. Santa’s Twilight 5K will allow you to do just that. Those who participate in this night run held in downtown Clermont will receive a T-shirt, a holiday-themed finisher medal, jingle bells for your shoes, and glow sticks for the run.



The Clermont Performing Arts Center is hosting Florida Philharmonia, an outstanding orchestra comprised of 50 professional musicians from around the state, as well as international guest musicians. The orchestra is led by acclaimed conductor Pasquale Valerio. Attendees will hear holiday classics such as “O Holy Night” and “The Christmas Song.” Clermont Performing Arts Center 3700 U.S. Hwy. 27, Clermont / 352.394.4800

Dec. 18 / 685 W. Montrose St., Clermont / 352.394.1320

ONGOI NG EVENTS Events are subject to change and cancellation.





Clermont Farmer’s Market 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Downtown Clermont

Downtown Mount Dora Village Market 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Mount Dora

Webster’s Farmer’s Market 6 a.m.-2 p.m. 524 North Market Blvd., Webster

Lady Lake Farmer’s Market 9 a.m.-2 p.m. 250 Rolling Acres Rd., Lady Lake

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dec.JAMS Move to the beat of one of your favorite performers at one of these great concerts or local venues!

12/5 @ 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

12/17 @ 9 p.m.

THE LETTERMEN Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

SEPTEMBER DOGS Frank’s Place, Leesburg

12/8-9 @ 7 p.m.

12/17 @ 9 p.m.


DOC ADAMS BAND Krazy 8’s Bar and Grill, Umatilla

12/9 @ 7 p.m.

JIMMY HUNTER Lake Harris Hideaway, Tavares

MICHELLE INGRAHAM GarVino’s, The Villages

12/18 @ 3:30 p.m.

12/9 @ 7 p.m.

THE DIAMONDS Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

GOE 2 GUYZ Legacy at Leesburg, Leesburg

12/18 @ 5 p.m.

12/10 @ 6:30 p.m.

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Cody’s Original Roadhouse, The Villages

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Lake Veterans Club, Tavares

12/18 @ 7 p.m.

12/10 @ 7 p.m.




12/10 @ 7 p.m. ROWDY JOHNSON Buster Tubbs, Tavares



BILLY HALEY JR. AND THE COMETS Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

12/11 @ 4 p.m.

SANDY BACK PORCH Leesburg Public Library, Leesburg

12/29 @ 5 p.m. MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

CRYSTAL VISION DUO Cody’s Original Roadhouse, The Villages

12/11 @ 7 p.m. THE FOUR TOPS The Sharon, The Villages

12/12 @ 1:30 p..m. MANFREDI ROCKS Ruby Street Grille, Tavares

MICHELLE INGRAHAM GarVino’s, The Villages

12/29 @ 1 p.m.

MICHELLE INGRAHAM The Sunny Pint, Wildwood

12/11 @ 5 p.m.

Let us help you get the word out!

C.O.D. FLORIDA Hurricane Dockside Grill, Tavares

MANFREDI ROCKS Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille, The Villages

OFF WHITE BETTIES Lilly’s on the Lake, Clermont

To have an event considered for the calendar, send a short text description along with a color photo (if available) 45 days in advance of event to: or Lake & Sumter Style Calendar, P.O. Box 490088, Leesburg, FL 34749

12/19 @ 4:30 p.m.

12/24 @ 6 p.m.

12/11 @ 5 p.m.

Dec. 28-30 / 27341 S.R. 19, Tavares / 352.874.4376

DENNIE AND THE JETS Elks Lodge #1578, Tavares

12/23 @ 7 p.m.

12/11 @ 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The Mike Stone Invitational, Florida’s largest high school soccer tournament, will be held at the Mike Stone Soccer Complex in Tavares. High school soccer teams throughout Florida compete in the event, which raises money for the For Kids’ Sake Foundation.

12/18 @ 1 p.m.

12/31 @ 2:30 p.m. BILL FORNESS Edna’s on the Green, Wildwood

12/31 @ 8 p.m. OPRY NEW YEAR’S EVE SHOW Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale

1/1 @ 7 p.m. GENE WATSON Orange Blossom Opry, Weirsdale







Lake County Farmers & Flea Market 8 a.m.- noon 250 Rolling Acres Rd., Lady Lake

Eustis First Friday 6 p.m.-9 p.m. Downtown Eustis

Clermont First Friday Food Trucks 5:30 p.m.-9 p.m. 685 W. Montrose St., Clermont

Graveland Farmer’s Market 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Lake David Park, Groveland

Plaid in the Park 5 p.m.-9 p.m. 230 W. 4th Ave., Mount Dora

Eustis Classic Car Cruise-In 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Downtown Eustis

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p a r w n U s i h t s e smil season holiday


2X the points!

November 30 - December 31 on all purchases with your

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Apply online for fast approval, visit Call 352-237-9060 and press 5 Curbside Service available – Visit any CAMPUS Service Center today! Summerfield 17950 S. US Hwy. 441 | Grand Traverse 2945 Traverse Trail Membership is open to anyone in Alachua, Marion, Lake, Levy, and Sumter counties.1 Offer subject to change without notice. There are costs associated with the use of this card. For specific information call 800-367-6440 or write us at P.O. Box 147029, Gainesville, FL 32614. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is a variable rate for Platinum Rewards Mastercard and is based on the Wall Street Journal Prime Rate (index), plus a margin. The margin is based on certain creditworthiness criteria. The APR is as low as 10.15% as of 11/01/2021 which is determined by adding together the index and margin applicable to the card type and consumers credit. The APR could change without notice. The APR not to exceed 17.99%. Mastercard and the Mastercard Brand Mark are registered trademarks of Mastercard International Incorporated, used pursuant to a license. 1. Credit approval and initial $5 deposit required. Other restrictions may apply. Insured by the NCUA.



Magical charm Former dental hygienist Lori Brenneman finds joy in creating jewelry pieces that leave customers feeling happy. STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

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he tagline line “Treat Yourself to Magic” can be found in Lori Brenneman’s small 10-by-9-foot shop where she makes and displays pretty jewelry inside Papilio, the trendy gift shop in downtown Mount Dora. “A lot of people say it’s happy, it’s magical, and they like that feeling,” Lori says of her shop where she enjoys making bracelets, necklaces, and earrings with Swarovski crystals and colorful gems. She also has a 14k gold luxury line. One of her favorite jewelries to make involves twisting metal pieces into creative designs. “I think that is where my dental hygiene background comes in good in working with my hands,” she says while showing a bracelet of intricate, tightly twisted metal. “It’s called ‘wire wrapping’ and it’s unique, creative, and people really like it.” Lori was a dental hygienist for nearly 30 years in Maryland before relocating to Florida in 2010 due to her husband Matt’s job transfer. And because of licensing issues, Lori found she couldn’t practice dental hygiene without going back to college for 1 ½ years, which did not appeal to her. What she did find appealing was making jewelry, a hobby she started at age 15. Lori registered with the state and started her own

business Tooth Fairy Creations in 2013 and switched to the name TFC Jewelry when she added her men’s line. “It’s been amazing, and you just never know what life is going to throw at you,” says Lori, who made business adjustments when Covid hit in 2020. Her website was improved, online orders grew, and she made doorstop deliveries. She also found success with a jewelry subscription club where she mails out jewelry to monthly subscribers. She delights in interacting with customers over jewelry. “I really love it. I love people, I love jewelry, and I love helping people,” says Lori. “I’ve had people bring in bags of clothing and we pick out jewelry to match the outfits. The best thing is just having fun with my clients.” She also enjoys going to gem shows and selecting pretty gems to make into jewelry pieces, and she cherishes networking with other businesswomen in Mount Dora. “We brainstorm together in town at different restaurants,” she says. “Someone will have an issue or a problem to work out and we’ll all put our heads together and figure it out.” Lori also has figured out what she wants for the future of her business. She’d love for her husband to retire and take over finances and bookkeeping of TFC, “so I can spend more time designing and making jewelry.”

Do you know of a talented person in our community?

Email their story to

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! Y A W O N OUTPATIENT KINEMATIC ALIGNMENT TOTAL KNEE! At UNOVA HIP & KNEE CENTER, our minimally invasive techniques, opioid & narcotic free anesthesia, and our enhanced rapid recovery approach, allow us to offer outpatient kinematic alignment total knees to our patients. Our kinematic alignment total knee replacement resurfaces arthritic knees and allows the surgeon to replicate the knees natural pre-disease alignment. The result is a faster and less painful recovery, a quicker return to normal living activities, and a more natural feeling knee. CALL US TODAY FOR A CONSULATATION WITH ONE OF OUR OUTPATIENT KINEMATIC KNEE JOINT REPLACEMENT SPECIALISTS.




PIVOTAL MOVES Go it electric for a fun and adventurous way to explore Mount Dora. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN


egway of Central Florida, located in downtown Mount Dora, recently changed hands, but the service, products, and opportunity for unforgettable experiences it offers, have not suffered one bit. “We’re just passionate about helping customers. We enjoy being in the middle of a leading trend and we think it’s only going to grow,” says owner John Smith, who in June 2021, acquired the store from Dave Holzapfel. John, who also owns Pedego Walled Lake and Great Lake Segway of Walled Lake, in Walled Lake, Michigan, says he is excited about being welcomed so graciously into the Mount Dora community. He also feels right at home because Mount Dora reminds him of home. “Walled Lake is like a smaller version of Mount Dora. We have a lake right in town, so our store and others across the street from it, come with a beautiful lakeview, there are unique little restaurants, a dinner train, and just a bunch of other similarities,” John says, adding that he now owns two of the only three Segway dealerships in the United States that offer such extensive diagnostic services and technology. At Segway of Central Florida, customers can purchase new and refurbished Segways in various styles. If someone already owns one, the shop offers service and maintenance for customers anywhere in the country using Segway Easy Ship with FedEx or in person for locals. Segway rentals are also available for corporate events, marathon companies, and public safety groups. If that’s not enough, customers can purchase Pedego brand electric bikes, or rent them by the hour.

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John says he hopes the latter will add to other local attractions that cater to locals or tourists interested in embarking in outdoor adventures in style, adding that organized electric bike tours of the city are the horizon. “I think the electric mobility craze is big. There are electric bikes, and mopeds, scooters, Segways, and more, but we are trying to be a full personal electric mobility company,” John says. “It works for people wanting more outside time with their families, for our police officers because it helps them do their jobs while engaging with people in their community, and for companies with big warehouses or venues needing to get employees from one side to the other in the quickest, safest and most efficient way possible.” Personally, John, who once worked for corporate America, says he’d never planned on getting into the Segway dealership or service business, that is, until he and his wife were on a vacation and went on a Segway tour. “We enjoyed it well enough that we had a working business three weeks later, which included buying two Segways, and finding a location,” John says of the Segway tour company they started in 2010, before opening their first Segway dealership in 2017. “We started that whole thing from scratch, it became our way of life,” he adds, recounting the validation and pride he felt when Holzapfel immediately noticed they were a good fit for bringing

continuity to his Florida customer base after deciding to sell. John still lives in Michigan for now, but he is working closely with Dan Watson, an old friend from Sorrento, and general manager of the Mount Dora store. Dan says he feels touched by the people of Mount Dora because they’ve embraced and supported the store’s transition and reopening process after a mid-October fire broke out in the historic old-postoffice building at 430 Alexander St., that houses their store. Because of that, their temporary storefront is located at 133 West 5th Ave. “The sense of community here and how they put us right into that has been wonderful,” says Dan. “Even though this business was already established, we’re the new kids on the block physically, and regardless, they’ve made us feel at home from day one.” John says since opening, they have also been able to bond with The Villages Segway Owners Club and are glad to offer support. John says he looks forward to new opportunities and to spring 2022 when he expects to be settled back into

their permanent building and introducing much-anticipated electric bike tours of Mount Dora. “There’s a nice trail pathway a block or two over from our store, where people can ride and explore the lakeshore and see different sites around town,” John says, adding that if people haven’t tried an electric bike yet, they should, because it is a great ride. He adds electric bikes have motors within the frame of the bike that allow people to travel 40-50 mph with electric support but still pedal, or switch to straight foot power and manual gears, as desired. “Electric bikes are huge for commuting, for recreating, and for traveling a little easier than they would with a manual bike. They are a growing passion for people,” John says. “Some people, including many senior citizens, are riding 100 miles in a day. The electric really gives you the ability to travel for longer periods and distances and offers endless opportunities and freedom for fun and adventure.” For more information, visit or call 352.383.9900.

Know of a cool local attraction you’d like us to feature? Contact us at least three months in advance and provide all the details to


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Kelli Willis, Nikki Williams, and Karishma Bidessi

Perrell Stewart, Trina Winkler, and Felicia Stewart

Stephanie, Charlie, Mike, Carlos, and Sandy Solis

“The Judges” Clermont Mayor Tim Murry, Heather Rogers, Karen Lopez, Groveland Mayor Evelyn Wilson and Mike Hein

Isamari Medina

Jessica Vera and Yajaira Muniz

Nickey Roy, Taylor Reed, and Skyla Bonjorn

Nicole Delverme and Miranda Straugh

D E L E C TA B L E D E L I G H T S ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. Hundreds flocked to the South Lake Chamber of Commerce’s 10th annual Taste of South Lake and Business Expo on Nov. 4 at Clermont’s Waterfront Park. There, guests were invited to meet with more than 30 business vendors, sample food and drinks from over 20 local restaurants, vote for their favorites, and enjoy live music by Rob Nichols. Award winners for 2021 were: Root & Branch for People’s Choice; Clermont Oyster Bar for best appetizer; Guru for best entrée; Blushing Bubbles for best drink; City of Clermont for best decorated booth; and Black Rose Bake Shop for best dessert. @ WATERFRONT PARK

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Jazlyn Drake and Priscilla Caraballo


Joseph Ribkoff • Cotton clothing by Cottonseed and Giocam Handbags by Nicole Lee • Concealed gun carry by Montana West The Incredible sunvisor, sunglasses, leggins and accesories

352.729.2121 | 402 North Donnelly St., Mount Dora


lakeland symphony orchestra L K L D S Y M P H O N Y. O R G | ( 8 6 3 ) 6 8 8 -3 74 3

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Kate Lewis, Greg Lewis, Lynn Winker, Shari Kaiser, and Tessa Hubbard

Gerald (Jerry) Galbreath and Tony Stokes-Marshal

Mike Barret and Lindsay Sanders

Julie Grimes, John Arbuthnot, Shannon Young, Melissa Franklin, Nicki Haber, and Lauri Grizzard

L-R: Amy and Robert Bowersox, and Dewey and Kaitlyn Waddell

Melissa Morgan and Wendy Hoag


Saylor Deas and Robbie Garvin

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@ DOWNTOWN LEESBURG ≈ PHOTOS: NICOLE HAMEL. Leesburg Towne Square was the site for the enjoyable and popular Craft Beer, Wine and Food Festival on Oct. 15. There, guests strolled from station to station to savor over 25 different craft beers, wine, and a variety of food samplings from area restaurants and chefs. The islands were decorated with a dazzling array of holiday lights complemented by live music from Non-Stop T. Scott. The event was hosted by Leesburg Partnership and Wayne Densch, Inc.

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James Combs and Roxanne Brown


From Office to O.R. From subtle reshaping and beautiful enhancements, to dramatic reconstruction, our Central Florida Plastic Surgery patients appreciate our personalized, boutique approach from the moment you walk in the door. Dr. Fernando Serra and his staff bring together a unique combination of professionalism, compassion, expertise, and cutting-edge procedures while maintaining a personal patient relationship throughout. This is the same team that will meet you when you arrive at the stateof-the-art Santa Fe Surgery Center. Our intimate practice knows you by name, knows your background, what we’ve already discussed and knows your objectives. From Office to O.R. - who you see here, you see there. It is part of our unwavering commitment to continuity of care, and a dedication to ensuring you’re treated with dignity and compassion, rather than as a patient number with a procedure code. Rodlynn Stephens, CST Certified Surgical Technologist

Call today to schedule your complementary consultation with Dr. Serra.

Dr. Fernando Serra, MD, FACS Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

American Board of Plastic Surgery

American Society of Plastic Surgeons

American Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery | 352-259-0722

American College of Surgeons

Lake Sumter Landing Professional Plaza | 910 Old Camp Rd. Suite 142 | The Villages


Eustis Softball Team with Odicci Alexander (front)

Hailey Bates, Libby Levendoski, Paige Remsen, and Vanessa Santana

CF Stars Softball Team

Lindsey Fiedler (front) Back left to right: Lilee Castle, Taylor Tuner, Marissa Weaver, Kendall Kemp, Jaelyn Larsen, Kylee Castle, Samantha Cruz

NIGHT U NDER THE LIGHTS ≈ PHOTOS: CINDY PETERSON. Odicci Alexander, the 2021 NCAA Pitcher of the Year for Softball, was the guest of honor at a Nov. 10 benefit at the Venetian Center in Leesburg. The fundraiser was hosted by Eustis High School Panther Softball, and these female players made history in 2021 as FHSAA 4A State Champions! The Night Under the Lights event featured a meet-and-greet with Oddici, and a silent auction with proceeds that benefitted the goal of getting a new field built in Eustis.


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Eustis High School Principal Tracy Clark, Eustis Softball Coach Brittany Beall, Odicci Alexander, School Board member Stephanie Luke




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352.394.7434 / / 741 West Montrose Street, Clermont

Nathan Craigie, Salesperson

Guy & Jenean Hite

P L AZ A CA D I L L AC I’m very impressed with Salesperson Nathan Craigie and Manager Tony Pagano. Very informed about all things Cadillac. Harry Akarcay, the service advisor, helped me out when I had a flat tire at my home. I have bought 4 Cadillacs from Plaza Cadillac, they are great! — GUY HITE

8893 US HWY 441 | LEESBURG, FL 34788 | 352.787.1323 | P L AZ A C A D I L L AC . CO M

Sherrita Smith, Salesperson (left) Tony Pagano, General Sales Manager (right)

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P L AZ A L I N CO L N I would definitely recommend this dealer. Excellent Sales and Service team and they followed through on all commitments. Overall experience was 5 stars! —DAVID SMITH

8925 US HWY 441 | LEESBURG, FL 34788 | 352.787.1255 | P L AZ A L I N C O L N O F L E E S B U R G . CO M

Alphonse Mucha: Master of Art Nouveau Through January 9, 2022

Exhibition and museum tour organized by Landau Traveling Exhibitions, Los Angeles, California.

Appleton Museum, Artspace and Store


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Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday, noon-5 p.m. 4333 E. Silver Springs Blvd. |

-an equal opportunity college-

Mark Jacobson, MD

edical Imaging and Therapeutics (MIT) is an independent, patient-focused, outcomeoriented diagnostic and interventional radiology specialty center. There, Dr. Mark Jacobson, Interventional Radiologist, and Beau Nacke, PA., work alongside stellar radiology technologists and nurses. The MIT team utilizes state of the art diagnostic imaging including MRI, CT, Ultrasound , fluoroscopy and digital X-ray, image guided biopsy, patient medical history and physical examination to determine the cause(s) of patient problems. After establishing the correct diagnosis, Dr. Jacobson and Beau Nacke, PA., perform therapeutic procedures designed to rapidly alleviate pain & restore function. The myriad of image guided treatments offered includes: placement of vascular access devices such as ports and PICC lines, feeding tubes, and catheters for draining abdominal fluid. Fluid removal from joints, the chest and abdomen, RF ablation of bone tumors and laser ablation of painful varicose veins. A variety of injections including nerve blocks, trigger point, epidural and joint are designed to enhance quality

Beau Nacke, PA

of life by targeting the source of pain and facilitating recovery. In some instances RF nerve ablation can also be performed, providing longer lasting relief and reducing the need for injections. These procedures can be both palliative and healing. Fractures of the spine and sacrum are common conditions diagnosed and treated at MIT. If not accurately diagnosed and promptly addressed, patients are at risk for additional fractures, muscle atrophy, weakness, and overall decline. Kyphoplasty is a low risk office procedure that uses image guidance, a needle and bone cement to repair fractured vertebrae caused by osteoporosis or tumor, and allows patients to quickly resume doing what they enjoy, keeping them out of hospitals and rehab facilities. MIT is recognized as a top center in the US for Kyphoplasty procedures, performing hundreds each year, and participating in research with many institutions, including the Society of Interventional Radiology. MIT is also a designated training center for UF Interventional Radiologists because Dr. Jacobson has performed thousands of spine fracture repairs and is a recognized expert in this field. He also leads the way in safety and positive outcomes, while using the least amount of radiation possible.

Interventional Radiology procedures performed in a nurturing, safe, state-certified outpatient center 352.261.5502 | | The Oaks at 138th — 13837 NE 86th Terrace, Lady Lake, FL 32159

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Let the USB Residential Lending Team help you find the perfect place to cozy up with family and friends and make new holiday memories.

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Choose Quality Care Today The Villages Health patients, like Terry Rudrum who made the change to a Medicare Advantage plan accepted by The Villages Health, tell us they made the right choice. Now, patients like Terry enjoy a healthcare system specifically designed for their lifestyle, which offers high-quality telehealth and in-person health care services, including: • Coordinated Primary and Specialty Care Services • Call a Nurse Helpline • After Hours On-Call Provider • Saturday EZ-Care Clinic Appointments

“Medicare Advantage has been more helpful because of prescriptions and specialists and the overall easy way everything can be taken care of. My main reason for changing to The Villages Health is the overall care you receive, the facilities that are available, and the overall friendliness of the staff.” - Terry Rudrum, Patient of The Villages Health

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Money in your pocket, times three Big Zero Big Three— big benefits, big savings $0 monthly premiums, $0 primary care physician copays, $0 on Tier 1 and Tier 2 prescription drug copays.* A Humana Gold Plus H1036-146 (HMO) provides everything you might expect from a healthcare plan, plus more. You’ll get: • $25 copay for 1 – 3 days inpatient hospital stay • $2,000 dental coverage annually for select services, plus exams, X-rays, cleanings, fillings and more • $150 over-the-counter allowance every three months** • Unlimited rides to your doctors • Worldwide emergency coverage Call a licensed Humana sales agent Marshal Cuscaden 352-626-7823 (TTY: 711) Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

A more human way to healthcare™ *For 90-day mail delivery. The $0 copay applies to Tier 1 and Tier 2 medications using a mail-delivery pharmacy with preferred cost sharing after any applicable deductible is met. **Available only through participating retailers and Humana’s mail-order pharmacy, Humana Pharmacy®; always consult with your doctor or medical provider before taking over-the-counter medications. Humana is a Medicare Advantage HMO, PPO and PFFS organization with a Medicare contract. Enrollment in any Humana plan depends on contract renewal. Applicable to Humana Gold Plus H1036-146 (HMO). At Humana, it is important you are treated fairly. Humana Inc. and its subsidiaries comply with applicable Federal Civil Rights laws and do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, ancestry, marital status or religion. English: ATTENTION: If you do not speak English, language assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-877-320-1235 (TTY: 711). Español (Spanish): ATENCIÓN: Si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-877-320-1235 (TTY: 711). 繁體中文 (Chinese): 注意:如果您使用繁體中文 ,您可以免費獲得語言援助服務 。請致電 1-877-320-1235 (TTY:711) 。 Y0040_GHHJFD5TE_22_AD_M


From taquitos to avocado fries, Salsa Restaurant and Bar in Tavares serves up Tex-Mex food with lots of flair.



The sweet taste of success For Nikki Anderson, being a selfemployed baker is icing on the cake. STORY: JAMES COMBS


ikki Anderson stands in her home kitchen, baking a cake with laser-like focus. She precisely measures ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, and eggs. They blend beautifully. Later, she removes the finished product from her oven. Her cake is a canvas that delights the sense of sight as much as the sense of taste. This has been Nikki’s life since she opened Nikki’s Sweet Cakes two-and-ahalf years ago. She is a home baker who receives countless requests to make cakes for baby showers, birthday parties, anniversaries, weddings, bachelorette parties, and holidays. In addition to specialty cakes, Nikki also makes cobbler, pies, drop cookies, peanut clusters, and breads. Facebook and word-of-mouth have been instrumental in helping her company achieve a fast start and attract a growing number of customers. Nikki bakes more than 200 cakes a year. Moreover, she has become a preferred vendor at two wedding venues—The Barn at Southern Oaks in Umatilla and The Farmhouse in Eustis. “I have to pinch myself because of how fast my company is growing,” Nikki says. Sometimes, it’s even more unbelievable that her business even exists. Some entrepreneurs feel they were born to start a business, while others have worked at it for

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cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter


cups self-rising flour


cups sugar


large eggs, beaten



cup sour cream


teaspoon almond extract


cup cranberry sauce Fresh cranberries for garnish


Nikki Anderson

years. Then there are people like Nikki who do not fall into entrepreneurship on purpose. For Nikki, the pivotal step to joining the ranks of the self-employed occurred when she baked a cake for her daughter’s first birthday. With no baking experience, she elicited the help of her mother-inlaw. Nikki was not pleased with the finished product. “It was a disaster,” she says. “I forgot to put frosting between layers of the bottom tier. Why I decided to do a two-tier cake for my first one amazes me to this day.” Fortunately, the cake tasted better than it looked. Family and friends attending the birthday party gave her glowing reviews. In fact, her cousin requested Nikki to make one for her baby shower. “She was the first person to pay me for a cake,” Nikki says. “Later, I did my first commissioned cake. Those experiences gave me a confidence boost. Everything snowballed from there.” Eventually, she quit her job as administrator of a doctor’s office to launch Nikki’s Sweet Cakes. When she took the leap, she didn’t have a roadmap telling her how to succeed. But what she did have is lots of passion and a curiosity to learn. “I learned under other Lake County bakers who were supportive and really interested in helping me succeed,” she says. That knowledge has proven valuable for Nikki, who operates her business from her Leesburg home. Clients often request themed cakes, ranging from fishing and art to SpongeBob SquarePants and Minnie Mouse. Those can be challenging, but

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour 2 – 8-inch cake pans. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add 1 cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in the flour and sugar until incorporated. Stir in the eggs, sour cream, and almond extract. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden on top, about 20 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes. Make a ring, around 1” thick, of buttercream around the edge of the layers. Fill in with cranberry sauce (not too much or it will ooze out), repeat with the next layer, then frost the cake with vanilla buttercream. Garnish the top of the cake with fresh cranberries.



cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature


pounds confectioners’ sugar



cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk, at room temperature


teaspoons pure vanilla extract Salt, to taste


With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy, about two minutes. Add two pounds (in intervals) confectioners’ sugar, the heavy cream, and vanilla extract. Beat on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to medium-high speed and beat for two full minutes. Taste. Add a pinch of salt if frosting is too sweet. I always add 1/8 teaspoon. Adjust if needed: You can control the consistency at this point– add up to 1/2 cup more confectioners’ sugar if frosting is too thin or more heavy cream if frosting is too thick (add only one Tablespoon at a time, beat together, then taste and add more if desired). Use immediately or cover tightly and store for up to one week in the refrigerator or up to three months in the freezer. After freezing, thaw in the refrigerator then beat the frosting on medium speed for a few seconds so it’s creamy again. After thawing or refrigerating, beating in a splash of heavy cream or milk will help thin the frosting out again, if needed.

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Nikki turns their wishes into edible masterpieces. “I do fully custom flavors and do not have a set menu,” Nikki says. “I find having a menu to be mundane. I want to be open to doing new flavors and new designs if that’s what customers ask for. I’m fully customizable.” Perfecting her craft is a never-ending process. She hones her skills by watching cooking videos and reading countless articles. “There’s always a constant need to learn and grow,” she says. “Though my business is doing well, I always remain humble.” Baking cakes is just one of many chores she performs throughout the day. She has the added responsibilities of watching her 4-year-old daughter and feeding her pets—a dog, cat, fish, and tortoise. Nikki also does bookwork for her husband’s window and door



cup soft shortening (can be butter instead)

1 1/2 cups sugar 2


2 3/4 cups self-rising flour (or all-purpose flour + 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda)



teaspoons cream of tartar


Mix together shortening, sugar, and eggs. Sift and stir in the flour and the cream of tartar. Chill dough (about 30 mins, enough to not be sticky when rolling out). Roll into walnut-size balls. Roll in mixture of 2 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons cinnamon. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake until lightly browned...but still soft. They puff up and then flatten with crinkled tops. Bake: 400 degrees for 8 - 10 minutes. Makes around 3 1/2 dozen with a small cookie scoop.


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cup self-rising flour cup Confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces


installation business, Anderson Rigsby Company. Then there’s the normal household duties of folding laundry, doing dishes, and cleaning the house. “I stay busy,” she says. “Sometimes I tell myself I need to slow down, but my mind won’t let me. I’m constantly thinking about cakes and what I need to do for my business and my husband’s business. That’s just my personality. It’s hard to describe to people who just go with the flow or get stressed out doing two things at once. I compartmentalize things in my head, and I’m a very good multi-tasker.” Recently, she accepted another responsibility by becoming administrator/coordinator of Whimsy Market, which hosted its first event in October at Sunsational Farms in Umatilla. Sixty-three vendors and 2,500 people attended. “Our goal is to offer an in-person venue where local businesses owners can showcase their goods,” she says. “At our first event I made 230 desserts. This group has definitely helped increase the popularity of my business.” Nikki isn’t bothered by having a lot on her plate. As she has discovered, hard work creates sweet success.

Line a 9 x 13 baking pan with aluminum foil. Place the flour, confectioner sugar in a bowl of a food processor or use hand pastry blender. Mix dry ingredients. Add the butter and mix until it resembles coarse meal with pea-size clumps of butter. It will seem dry; that’s okay. Press mixture in the pan and press firmly with your fingers into an even layer over the bottom and up sides a little. Bake at 350° F 15-17 minutes. Set on rack to cool. Leave oven on.

Recipes It can be the most wonderful or most stressful time of the year, depending on whether you enjoy baking or not. Some people love daily baking projects. From cookies to pies to cakes, they fill up the kitchen with the aromas of chocolate, pumpkin spices, and other sugary goodies. For others, though, baking can be overwhelming when they have so many things going on such as shopping, attending several Christmas parties, and cleaning the house for relatives who will be visiting. Nikki offers some helpful advice for those dreading extra hours in the kitchen. “Remember, you might make the ugliest cake in the world, but if the flavor is there, then everyone is going to be happy. That’s what I learned from my first cake. Stay calm and be patient with yourself. In the end, everything will come together.” Asking family to help in the kitchen and become involved in the baking is also important. Everything could get completed quicker, and it could make baking much more fun and enjoyable. Here are three of Nikki’s holiday recipes you may want to consider making at home.


1 1/2 sticks butter 23


cup honey


teaspoon vanilla extract


pinch of salt 4

tablespoons heavy whipping cream


cups coarsely chopped pecans (I use less, like 2 cups)


In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, combine butter, honey, vanilla and salt. Stir until blended. Bring to a boil for 3 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in heavy cream and chopped pecans.


Pour pecan mixture over crust. Bake until filling is bubbling and caramel is light brown in color, about 20 minutes. Cool completely before you cut, use the foil overhang to lift baked square out of pan and onto cutting board. Loosen the foil from the edges, then cut with a sharp knife. These can be frozen for up to 3 months.

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Beef Fajitas


Salsa! Tex-Mex restaurant in Tavares offers unique offerings aside from typical menu fare. Avocado Fries, anyone? STORY: THERESA CAMPBELL

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erusing the extensive menu at Salsa Restaurant and Bar is rather interesting to do. It’s filled with a variety of unique appetizers and entrées that may pique your interest, just like it did for Style photographer and writers. “We get that a lot,” Arlette Aguilar Lopez, Salsa’s general manager, says of customers surprised by the distinctive menu offerings. “It’s not your traditional Tex-Mex. We have a lot of authentic meals within the menu, but we have a lot of infusion. Avocado Fries are a whole different thing that you wouldn’t expect along with the Texas Egg Roll.” So, yes of course, we were compelled to order the Avocado Fries and the Texas Egg Rolls and found both to be delightful taste sensations. The Avocado Fries arrived at our table in the shape of petals, with the exterior texture of french fries, and with the creamy smoothness on the inside of guacamole. “Avocado fries are very, very unique,” says Arlette, adding it’s an appetizer that is either a hit or miss with people. “We make our Texas Egg Rolls in house as well, and they are very big sellers.” The Texas Egg Roll appetizer features a combined chopped mixture of chicken, corn, black beans, red peppers, jalapenos, spinach, cheese, pickled onions, with chipotle aioli. We also enjoyed the Salsa’s taquitos, featuring deep-fried flour tortillas filled with shredded chicken, and served with a side of sour cream, tomatoes, and the restaurant’s tasty house guacamole. “I’d say the appetizers at Salsa were dangerously good,” says Style staff writer Roxanne Brown. “After sampling everything from their standard chips, tangy but not overly spicy salsa and perfectly chunky and seasoned guacamole, to the unique Avocado Fries, shredded chicken taquitos and my favorite: the ‘stuffed with goodness’ Texas Egg Rolls with accompanying chipotle aioli dipping sauce, I almost couldn’t fit in another bite when our entrées came out.” Salsa has the standard Mexican fare of tacos, fajitas, burritos with rice and beans on its menu, however for a unique entrée choice, Arlette suggested many diners’ favorite: the Molcajetes, which arrived in a steaming hot 8-inch footed bowl and featured a stew-like gravy consistency mixture with a choice of grilled chicken, steak, shrimp, or a combo of the meats, along with bell peppers, onions, potatoes, queso fresco, menonita cheese, grilled jalapeno salsa, and served along with rice, refried beans, and warm flour tortillas. “The combo is very popular because you get to try a little of each meat,” says Arlette. This tasty dish generated repeated “wow!” comments from the Style staff when it arrived on our table. “I think we were all so shocked to see how huge the bowl was compared to the picture of it on the menu,” says Roxanne, and she was right. The portion of this dish is plenty for two people to enjoy or with extra to take home. Another unique entrée on Salsa’s menu is the Hawaiian burrito, which Arlette claims as “very good,” featuring a fusion of sweet, spicy, and in-between taste sensations. The flour tortilla is filled with either grilled chicken or steak, bell peppers, onion, pineapple, bacon, specialty sweet mango sauce with a unique fusion of fresh pineapple, mango, and jalapenos with tangy twist of citrus.

Appetizers of Texas Egg Rolls. Avocado Fries, Taquitos.


Chicken Tortilla Soup

Arlette’s favorite dish on Salsa’s menu is the Arroz Con Pollo. “It’s very simple dish, but it is very good,” she says of the entrée of grilled chicken over rice with house-made queso blanco, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and warm flour tortillas. Our group was full after savoring appetizers and entrées that we didn’t have room for desserts; however, we were captivated by Salsa’s sweet choices: Fried cheesecake, Mexican chocolate lava cake, Churros filled with Bavarian cream cheese, and fried ice cream, which Salsa serves differently than other eateries’ versions. The fried ice cream is listed

on the menu as a cinnamon-and-sugardusted tortilla bowl filled with crispy coated vanilla ice cream drizzled with chocolate and topped with whip cream. Since opening in November 2020 in the location that was formerly Angelo’s, Salsa is owned by a Ukrainian family and is decorated with colorful sombrero hats on a couple of walls. The restaurant features a DJ and dancing on many Saturday nights from 10:30 p.m. to 2 a.m., along with occasional mariachi musicians on other nights. Salsa’s entertainment and menu specials can be seen on the restaurant’s website:


SALSA RESTAURANT AND BAR 2270 Vindale Road, Tavares, FL Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, with extended hours for dancing on Saturday nights. For more information, call 352.609.2666 or visit

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Wine not? A unique storefront on Magnolia Avenue in downtown Eustis is known for its magical transformation from flowers by day, to wine (and beer) at night. STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

florist and owner of Terri’s Eustis Flower Shop since 1979, Terri Moja never realized what she was missing, that is, until the coronavirus pandemic inspired her into exploring new offerings for customers ordering flower arrangements for delivery from her shop. “During COVID, we had our storefront closed, so we decided we needed to bring beer and wine to people at their


front door,” says Terri, explaining she got a beer and wine license so she could pair champagne and wine with flower orders. The new addition quickly became a hit. So, when things began opening back up, Terri, with help from General Manager Kayse Willhelm, decided to take it one step further. “We said, ‘Let’s build a bar,’ says Terri, recalling what resulted wasn’t just any old bar, but what she calls “a conversation bar,” and the heart of what is now Terri’s Magnolia Eustis Flower Shop and Wine Garden. “People can sit facing each other and actually have conversations with each

other, socialize amongst themselves,” adds Terri, revealing the bar top and other pieces like the countertop near the wine taps and huge chandelier that hangs behind it, came from her mom, an antique dealer, who purchased them in Las Vegas years ago. With that, Bar Manager Jamie Tyus, an experienced wine consultant, expressed her passion for introducing interesting flavor profiles to customers, and for wine in general. “You give wine grapes the worst conditions; I’m talking rock and slate, and you’re going to get beautiful, beautiful wines,” Jamie says. “I also love when

Terri Moja, Kayse Wilhelm, Jamie Tyus, and Sierra Guest

people come in and say, ‘I don’t really know what I like,’ because when I suggest something, and they end up enjoying it, it’s really satisfying.” During the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday and until 3 p.m. Saturdays, customers can call or stop in at the Magnolia Flower Shop and Wine Garden, located at 114 E. Magnolia Ave., to order flowers. Then, at 4 p.m. the magic happens. Monday-Wednesday evenings are reserved for people who’ve pre-registered for ‘wine and design’ workshops, private classes/parties, and wine tastings. On Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.(ish), people can come in, sit at the bar and enjoy a variety of beers and wines, along with live music, comedy nights, and more. And if that’s not enough, the venue can be reserved and rented for celebrations including baby showers, bridal showers, and birthday/anniversary parties. People can also join the Magnolia Wine Club, an exclusive annual membership with perks like discounts, quarterly wine tastings, and a wine glass, engraved with a nickname and personalized pictorial representation, to use during each visit. “It’s a wonderful getaway. The ladies love it, but so do the men,” Terri says. “It’s a fun way to keep Eustis on the map, keep it moving, keep people talking, and we’re always adding new things.” Recently, Style Photographer Nicole Neola and I visited the Magnolia Wine Garden and upon walking through the door, we were taken by the smell of fresh flowers and unique vibe. We couldn’t stop admiring the hanging lights and flowers everywhere, wine corks

in glass enclosures that line the bar, and rustic furniture, including the comfiest of couches, accented with “home-like” throw pillows. Terri says: “The ambiance is very welcoming, very warm. People describe it as sitting in their living room and that’s what we like to hear.” Still, Nicole and I had a hard time choosing between the unique wines and IPAs on the menu, so Jamie helped by choosing for us, and that was a good thing! We tried the Nero D’Avola, a dry red Italian wine, and though not normally big red wine fans, both deemed it our favorite sip of the evening. We also tried the Torontes, a refreshing white wine from Argentina, the fun and bubbly Magnolia Spritz, made using cappelletti and aperal, and the Pink Mink, their tropical tasting, blingy signature drink, made with prosecco and pink edible glitter. We loved that when poured, the combination created continuous swirls and sparkles inside the fluted glass it was served in, resembling a real-life ‘pink mink’ flower. “We pride ourselves on having a beer and wine menu that is unique, so you’re not coming in here and just getting your run of the mill chardonnay, cabernet, pinot noir or house wines,” Jamie says. “We’re all about looking

to serve things that people are going to like, but that you can’t find at too many other places.” Going forward, the trio has plans for exciting future offerings, but meanwhile, they want people to visit, relax and enjoy sipping on some tasty wine among friends. If hungry, people can bring food in from neighboring restaurants or purchase pre-packaged charcuterie boxes sourced from local vendors. “What we’ve built makes people want to hang around for hours and that’s what we love to see,” says Kayse. “We have the flower shop during the day, which is our bread and butter, but the wine bar is our fun, and we want to excel that fun.”


MAGNOLIA WINE GARDEN 114 E. Magnolia Ave, Eustis Hours: Thursday - Saturday 4pm - 9pm 352.357.2424 @MagnoliaWineGarden on Facebook/Instagram

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From classic diners and lakeside restaurants to fine dining and everything in-between, Lake County’s culinary scene is booming. Your favorite meal is sure to be served with a side of hospitality. Denotes locations where you can find Lake & Sumter Style

A S TAT U L A Race Car Diner 25641 Monroe St. 352.253.6940 ASTOR Blackwater Inn 55716 Front St. 352.759.3802 Castaways Restaurant 23525 US SR 40 352.759.2213 Sparky’s Place Restaurant 24646 SR 40 352.759.3551 Williams Landing 55716 Front St. 352.759.2802 BUSHNELL Beef ‘O’ Brady’s 2586 W CR 48 352.568.7000 Darryl’s Diner 2237 W CR 48 352.444.2318 Howie’s Family Restaurant 840 N. Main St. 352.793.8582 TJ’s Family Restaurant 412 W. Belt Ave 352.793.8877 CLERMONT Akina Sushi Bar & Asian Fusion Bistro 4300 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.8988

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Cheeser’s Palace Café 707 W. Montrose St. 352.404.9431

Legends Grille & Tavern 1700 Legendary Blvd. 352.243.1118

Uncle Kenny’s BBQ 157 Hwy. 27 352.394.1225

Clermont Brewing Co. 750 W Desoto 321.430.2337

Lilly’s on the Lake 846 W. Osceola St. 352.708.6565


Corelli’s Italian Restaurant 1042 E. Hwy. 50 352.989.5924

Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 230 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.394.0036

Crooked Spoon Gastropub 200 Citrus Tower Blvd. 352.404.7808

Robata Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar 1500 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.404.9688

Devenney’s Irish Pub 16909 High Grove Blvd. 352.432.3925 El Cerro Restaurant 811 W. Hwy. 50 352.241.9884 Friar Tuck 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd. 352.404.6818 G’s NY Pizza 12346 Roper Blvd. 352.243.8900

Root and Branch Bistro and Bar 1200 Seaver Dr. 352.708.4529 Sanctuary Ridge Bar & Grille 2601 Diamond Club Road 352.243.0411 Sarah’s Greek Cuisine & More 16640 Cagan Crossings Blvd., Ste. 305 352.404.8031

Gators Dockside 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.242.1825

Southern on 8th Kitchen & Bar 801 W. Montrose St. 352.394.7777

Goomba’s Pizzeria 2395 S. Hwy 27 352.989.4403

The Outpouring Coffee 2560 E. Hw.y 50 352.989.4406

Green Mountain Pizza 303 Hwy. 50 352.432.3380

Troy’s Cuban Deli 1200 Oakley Seaver Dr. 352.241.4295

Guru Restaurant 2400 S. Hwy. 27 352.241.9884

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The Crazy Gator 402 N. Bay St. 352.589.5885 The Oyster Troff 936 N. Bay St. 352.357.9939

JB Boondocks Bar & Grill 704 S. Lakeshore Blvd. 352.324.3600

Tillie’s Tavern & Grill 31 E. Magnolia Ave. 352.602.7929

La Hacienda Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.3910

Tony’s Pizza & Subs 2760 E. Orange Ave. 352.589.9001

Nicker’s Clubhouse Restaurant 10400 CR 48 352.324.2718



Fruitland Park Café 3180 US Hwy. 441/27 352.435.4575 ibar-be-que Express 3170 Hwy. 27 352.315.4227 Legends Cafe 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.728.0006 Mystic Ice Cream 1217 W. Miller Blvd. 352.812.1366

Jeannie’s Place 209 E. Gottsche Ave. 352.359.0027

NY Deli N Diner 3325 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.365.0051

Gators Dockside 15241 US Hwy 441 352.357.1255

Rae Rae’s Restaurant 2468 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.323.1595

Kiku Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar 15211 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.483.8288

Stavro’s 3223 US Hwy. 441 352.315.0028

LaCabana Mexican Bar and Grill 2060 S. Bay St. 352.357.4600 Nalan Sultan Mediterranean Grill 1 N. Eustis St. 352.357.4444 NightOwl Caribbean Restaurant 929 S. Bay St. 352.589.0256 Stavro’s & Sons of Eustis 2100 W. CR 44 352.589.9100 Taki’s Pizza House 2824 S. Bay St. 352.357.0022 Thai Sushi America 925 N. Bay St. 352.357.1949


The Rose Plantation 200 Rose Ave., Fruitland Park 352.805.4340 G R OV E L A N D Coyote Rojo 214 W. Broad St. 352.557.8999 Ikaho Sushi Japanese Restaurant 7965 SR 50, #900 352.557.8988 James Barbeque 262 W. Orange St. 352.557.4050 Lil Anthony’s Pizza 7965 SR 50 352.429.7499 Red Wing Restaurant 12500 S. SR 33 352.429.2997

Bamboo Bistro 700 Hwy. 441 352.750.9998 El Ranchito 1 Lagrande Blvd. 352.750.3335 Harbor Hills Country Club 6538 Lake Griffin Rd. 352.753.7000 Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 504 S. U.S. Hwy. 441/27 352.753.2722 OakWood Smokehouse & Grill 860 S. Hwy 27/441 352.751.5640 Takis Greek and Italian Restaurant 13761 U.S. Hwy. 441 N. 352.430.3630 LEESBURG Breakfast Station 2229 Citrus Blvd. 352.315.0291 Brick & Barrel 209 W. Main St. 352.431.3069 Brooklyn’s Pizzeria 27405 US Highway 27 352.728.2020 Coffee Snob 1101 W. North Blvd. 352.460.4570 Cousin Vinnie’s Family Sports Restaurant 10700 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.253.2442

God Café 300 W. Main St. 352.801.7447 Great Chicago Fire Brewery & Tap Room 311 W. Magnolia St. 352.474.2739 HP Grill 1403 S. 14th St. 352.314.0006 Ichiban Buffet 10301 Hwy. 441 352.728.6669 Kountry Kitchen 1008 W. Dixie Ave. 352.323.0852 La Palma Mexican Grill 1690 Citrus Blvd. 352.323.1444 Lilly’s Super Subs 2339 CR 473 352.343.4663 Magnolia’s Oyster Bar 201 W. Magnolia St. 352.323.0093 Main Street Cantina 205 W. Main St. 352.435.7279 Mamma Mia Pizza 755 North 14th St. 352.326.0101 Mammoth Oak Brewing Company 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.326.0100 Mrs. T’s Place, Southern Restaurant 305 Pine St. 352.431.3217 Mystic Ice Cream 314 W. Main St. 352.812.1366 Naples Italian Restaurant 1107 W. North Blvd. 352.323.1616 Oakwood Smokehouse & Grill 2775 U.S. 27 352.435.4633 Pine Street Bar-B-Que 408 Pine St. 352.728.1293

Donut King 708 S. 14th St. 352.805.4888

Plantation Oaks Restaurant 4720 Plantation Blvd. 352.530.2680

Frank’s Place 201 N. 1st St. 352.323.1989

Ramshackle Café 1317 N. 14th St. 352.365.6565

Gator Bay Bar & Grill 10320 CR 44 352.365.2177

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 US Hwy. 27 352.319.8093 San Jose’s Original Mexican Restaurant 1337 S. 14th St. 352.805.4174 Sully’s Smokehouse 10820 CR 44 352.483.7427 Takis Pizza Restaurant 1205 N. 14th St. 352.787.2344 The Florida Porch Café 706 W. Main St. 352.365.1717 The Mojo Grill & Catering Co. 9925 US-441 352.787.0494 The Old Time Diner 1350 W. North Blvd. 352.805.4250 Turners 114 S. 5th St. 352.530.2274 Wings Ranch Restaurant & Bar 10601 US 441, C12 352.901.6193 Wolfy’s 918 N. 14th St. 352.787.6777 MASCOTTE Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 S. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 Rainbow Restaurant 704 E. Myers Blvd. 352.429.2093 MINNEOLA Lil Anthony’s Pizza 205 N. U.S. Hwy. 27 352.394.1516 Minneola Grill 117 W. Washington St. 352.394.2555 Napoli’s Pizzeria 556 Hwy. 27 352.243.7500 The Surf Bar and Grill 650 N. Hwy. 27 202.527.0100 Tiki Bar & Grill 508 S. Main Ave. 352.394.2232


Shiva Indian Restaurant 140A W. 5th Ave. 352.735.4555

Lake Dora Sushi & Sake 227 E. Main St. 352.343.6313

Chengs Chinese Restaurant 4050 Wedgewood Ln. 352.391.9678

Palmer Legends Country Club 1635 Palmer Way 352.750.4499

The Mason Jar 37534 State Rd. 19 352.589.2535

Anthony’s Pizza 17195 U.S. Hwy. 441 352.357.6668

Lake House Bar & Grill 315 N. Highland St. 352.735.7433

Mary’s Kountry Kitchen 15945 CR 448 352.343.6823

China Gourmet III 343 Colony Blvd 352.750.4965

RedSauce 1000 Canal St. 352.750.5272


Barnwood Country Kitchen & Smokehouse 3725 W. Old US Hwy 441 352.630.4903

Sugarboo’s Bar-B-Que 1305 N. Grandview St. 352.735.7675

O’Keefe’s Irish Pub and Restaurant 115 S Rockingham Ave. 352.343.2157

Chop House at Lake Sumter 1045 Old Camp Rd. 352.750.6000

Ricciardi’s Italian Table 3660 Kiessel Rd. 352.391.9939

Evans Prairie Country Club 1825 Evans Prairie Trail 352.750.2225

Sakura 265 Colony Blvd. 352.205.7393

1921 Mount Dora 142 E. Fourth Ave. 352.385.1921

Beauclaire Restaurant at Lakeside Inn 100 N. Alexander St. 352.383.4101 Café Gianni 425 N. Alexander St. 352.735.3327 Cody’s on 4th Cafe 111 E. 4th Ave. 352.735.8426 Copacabana Cuban Cafe 320 Dora Drawdy Way 352.385.9000 Fiesta Grande 421 N. Baker St. 352.385.3540 Frog & Monkey English Pub 411 N. Donnelly St. 352. 383.1936 Highland Street Café 185 S. Highland St. 352.383.1446 Jeremiah’s 500 N. Highland St. 352.383.7444 J.K. Thai Garden 116 E. 5th Ave. 352.385.4700 Let’s Do Lunch 426 N. Donnelly St. 352.735.4577 Magical Meat Boutique 322 N. Alexander St. 352.729.6911 Mount Dora Pizza & Subs 2718 W. Old U.S. Hwy. 441 352.383.5303 Olive Branch Grille 115 W. 3rd St. 352.729.6734 One Flight Up 440 N. Donnelly St., Ste. 100 352.735.1446 Pisces Rising 239 W. 4th Ave. 352.385.2669 PizzAmore’ 722 E. 5th Ave. 352.383.0092

The Bavarian Haus 433 N. Alexander St. 352.735.8387 The Country Club 1900 Country Club Blvd. 352.735.2263 The Goblin Market 331-B Donnely St. 352.735.0059 The Pizza Shop 925 E. First Ave. 352.735.3411 Vincent’s Italian Restaurant 5914 Orange Blossom Trl. 352.735.4578

Puddle Jumpers 111 W Ruby St. 352.508.5862 Ruby Street Grille 221 E. Ruby St. 352.742.7829 Sunrise Grill 462 E. Burleigh Blvd. 352.343.7744 Tavares Ice Cream 214 E. Main 352.508.5342 The Hideaway 11912 Lane Park Rd. 352.343.3585

Fiesta Grande Mexican Grill 297 Colony Blvd 352.751.0400

The Lighthouse Point Bar and Grille 925 Lakeshore Dr. 352.753.7800

Giovanni’s 3439 Wedgewood Lane 352.751.6674

Tierra Del Sol Country Club 806 San Marino Dr. 352.753.8005

Glenview County Club 3914 Glenview Rd. 352.753.0077 Habaneros Mexican Grill 3551 Wedgewood Ln. 352.633.2080

Whale’s Tale Fish House 2720 W. Old U.S. Hwy 441 352.385.1500

Tiki West Raw Bar and Grill 118 W Ruby St., Tavares 352.508.5783

Hemingway’s at Havana Country Club 2484 Odell Circle 352.430.3200



Pho Saigon 11707 N. US Hwy. 301 352.492.9423

Amelia’s 1105 Lake Shore Drive 352.750.8265

Legacy Restaurant 17135 Buena Vista Blvd. 352.753.1475


Amerikano’s Grill 998 Del Mar Dr. 352.633.8027

Del Franco’s Pizza 31436 CR 437 352.383.8882 Lisa’s Kountry Cafe 23911 CR 46 352.735.3380 TAVA R E S Bella Nona Pizzeria 280 Silverado St. 352.508.9370 BTW (Burgers, Tacos & Waffles) 115 E. Main St. 352.508.9287 Fish Camp Lake Eustis 901 Lake Shore Blvd. 352.742.4400 Hurricane Dockside Grill 3351 W. Burleigh Blvd. 352.508.5137 Kalua Hale Beach Bar 181 S. Joanna Ave. 352.609.5910

Belle Glade Country Club 446 Moyer Loop 352.205.8208 BlueFin Grill & Bar 2738 Brownwood Blvd. 352.571.5344 Cane Garden Country Club 1726 Bailey Trail 352.750.0627

VKI Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar 1004 Old Mill Run 352.259.9887 Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar 3003 Brownwood Blvd. 352.626.1500 U M AT I L L A

Margarita Republic 1102 Main St. 352.753.4600 Mezza Luna Italian Restaurant and Bar 320 Colony Blvd. 352.753.3824

Combat Café 831 S Central Ave. 352.483.0250 Fish & Chix 100 N. Central Ave. 352.669.7145 Gators of Umatilla LLC 9 N. Central Ave. 352.669.6969

China Jade 420 W. CR 44 352.330.5913 Continental Country Club 50 Continental Blvd. 352.748.3293 Cotillion Southern Café 101 N. Main St. 352.748.1223 Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant 346 Shopping Center Dr. 352.461.0577 Marco’s Pizza 5806 Seven Mile Dr. Ste. 101 352.571.2400 O’Shucks! Oyster Bar and Grill 1016 S Main St. 352.399.2200 Roberto’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 2468 Burnsed Blvd., 352.626.1059 Traditions Café 3107 Hwy. 44 352.748.1077 Woody’s Bar-B-Q 1220 S. Main St. 352.748.1109

Greg’s Haystax 526 Umatilla Blvd. 352.669.1555

NYPD Pizzeria 4046 Wedgwood Ln 352.750.1994

Old Crow Real Pit Bar-B-Q 41100 SR 19 352.669.3922

Orange Blossom Country Club 1542 Water Tower Circle 352.751.4501

Shang Hai Restaurant 531 N. Central Ave. 352.669.2004



Pho Saigon Looking for a wonderful cultural dining experience? Then consider Pho Saigon, which brings the tastes of Vietnamese cuisine straight to your table. Located in Oxford, this gem of a restaurant features delicious dishes. Consider the Mi Xao Mem-Dom Bo, pan-fried chow mein egg noodles with beef and vegetables. Another popular dish is the Com Ga Rau Cai, or steamed rice with stirfry vegetables and chicken. The adventurous can order the Saigon Special Rice Platter, featuring jasmine steamed rice, a grilled pork chop, shredded pork skin, meatloaf, and an over-easy egg. 11707 N. US Hwy. 301 / 352.492.9423

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Claire’s Creperie 850.776.9820 | 100 E. 4TH AVE., MOUNT DORA FACEBOOK.COM/CLAIRESCREPERIE Claire’s Creperie in Mount Dora does “all things crepes,” offering a large selection of both sweet and savory crepes, weekly specials featuring locally sourced ingredients, as well as keto and gluten-free options. Owner Claire Ernst grew up making crepes with her dad, and her signature crepe is the Something Good, filled with cheesecake cream and fresh strawberries, and topped with powdered sugar and strawberry sauce. You also can try the Monte Cristo, a savory crepe with turkey, ham and Muenster cheese topped with powdered sugar and raspberry glaze. The creperie also has specials, such as the Croatian and the Macedonian, inspired by international students who have been hosted by Claire and her husband.

La Palma Mexican Grill

Tuesday & Thursday 10am–6pm Wednesday, Friday & Saturday 10am–8pm

Open Daily 11am–9pm

1690 CITRUS BLVD., LEESBURG | 352.323.1444 | LAPALMAGRILL.COM The entire staff invites you to a delicious dining experience at La Palma Mexican Grill. The recipes used for the restaurant’s unique dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Mexico, combined with culinary inspirations from California and Louisiana. Homemade Mexican entrees such as Tacos Azteca, carnitas, fajitas, Chori Pollo, tamales and more, are flavorful and prepared with only the freshest of ingredients. Sit comfortably in the beautiful dining room, the festive bar, or outside on the patio deck with a serene view of the grounds and of the fun wild animals that can be spotted in the trees. Enjoy fast and friendly service, reasonable prices, three-for-one margaritas all day, every day, and a party room, available by reservation, for large parties or meetings. Full menu at AK! Call for daily specials. BWWAA

Lunch Specials 11am–3pm

Margarita Mondays! Enjoy $5 margaritas all day every Monday.

’clock It’s five ohere! somew

Marco’s Pizza 5806 SEVEN MILE DRIVE SUITE 101, WILDWOOD 352.571.2400 | MARCOS.COM The most delicious dishes are made with lots of love. That’s certainly the case at Marco’s Pizza, which is owned by business partners Peter Hiles and Roger Mellen. They opened the restaurant last April off County Road 466A in Wildwood and already have plans to open five additional locations. And why not? Everyone loves pizza, but they appreciate a quality pizza much more. At Marco’s Pizza, everything is made daily, including the dough and sauce. In other words, everything is fresh and never frozen. The popular three-cheese blend is another aspect that makes the pizza so satisfying. Marco’s Pizza also offers calzones, specialty pizza bowls, subs, salads, and wings. Expect to always be welcomed by a warm, friendly staff whether you dine inside the restaurant or call for delivery.

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Sunday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Wednesday-Sunday 4pm-9pm Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Full Gluten-Free Menu

Open Daily 11am-9pm

Mom & Dad’s Italian Restaurant 352.753.2722 | 304 US-441, LADY LAKE Mom and Dad’s Italian Restaurant in Lady Lake has the distinct honor of calling itself a true family-owned restaurant. In fact, five generations of family members have represented the restaurant since its humble beginnings in May 1962. As many generations of customers have dined there throughout the years thanks to the outstanding service and scrumptious dishes such as Spaghetti a la Bruzzi, Delmonico steak, and lasagna. This food savvy family prepares everything from scratch, crafting everything with love to satisfy your taste buds.

Rodello’s Italian Restaurant 26736 U.S HIGHWAY 27, LEESBURG | 352.319.8093 | RODELLOS.COM Chef Amadeo Avila invites you to enjoy authentic and fresh Italian cuisine in a friendly, comfortable dining environment at Rodello’s Italian Restaurant. The recipes used for his dishes are a blend of old-school traditions from Italy—the restaurant is named for a city in the old country—with new culinary inspirations that Chef Amadeo has learned during many years in the restaurant business. Flavorful, homemade Italian entrees such as Pistachio Crusted Lamb, Salmon Saltimbocca, Lobster Ravioli, Shrimp Risotto, and many others are classics and prepared with only the freshest ingredients. The lunch menu features personal pizzas, calzones, subs, and pasta. Sit in the spacious dining room or enjoy drinks or desserts like delicious gelato in the cozy lounge, which features a full bar, wine menu, and an array of specialty cocktails. Always look for new features on Chef Amadeo’s menu, available on the restaurant’s website,

Custom-made, fresh sandwiches, salads, and flatbreads made right before your eyes. The “healthy” alternative to fast food.

Subway SUBWAY.COM LADY LAKE | 208 W. GUAVA ST. | 352.750.4929 EUSTIS | 469 PLAZA DR. | 352.357.7827 MOUNT DORA | 18870 U.S. HWY. 441 | 352.735.4376 LEESBURG | 2013 CITRUS BLVD. | 352.787.6442 10135 U.S. HWY. 441, SUITE 4 | 352.326.3234 27405 U.S. HWY. 27, SUITE 4 | 352.314.8847 THE VILLAGES | 1580 BELLA CRUZ DRIVE | 352.750.9600 8796 S.E. 165TH MULBERRY LANE | 352.750.9991 1070 LAKE SUMTER LANDING DRIVE | 352.205.8535 349 COLONY BLVD. | 352.391.1657 WILDWOOD | 480 W. GULF TO ALANTIC HWY. | 352.748.8800

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The Rose Plantation 200 ROSE AVE, FRUITLAND PARK | 352.805.4340 THEROSEPLANTATION.COM Enjoy an early 20th Century dining experience at The Rose Plantation, located in a home built in 1917. This charming and delightful restaurant on Fountain Lake serves up outstanding dishes with a side of elegant ambiance, starting with the glass-enclosed garden room and veranda, eclectic china, live piano, fine silverware, linen tablecloths, and the rose garden out front. The chefs are given creative freedom to make memorable dishes such as grilled scallops, half-roasted duck with sweet potato mash, rack of lamb, and crab cakes with cauliflower puree, black bean, corn relish, and key-lime avocado crema. All dishes are upscale in both quality and presentation. Customers can also choose from 140 varietals of wine. The restaurant, which seats 128 guests, includes private dining rooms for small parties. Four additional dining rooms will be added within one year.

Lunch: Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday Taking reservations from 4:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Would you like to see your restaurant in our dining section? CALL US AT 352.787.4112

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No place like La Palma! People craving traditional Mexican flavors, authentic dishes, and a welcoming family vibe are bound to enjoy this festive Leesburg restaurant. PAID PROMOTIONAL FEATURE

t La Palma Mexican Grill, family is everything. Because of that, owner Raudel Torres along with management and the entire staff, invite you to be part of creating long-lasting family traditions and memories, by visiting them at 1690 Citrus Blvd., Leesburg. “Our number one priority is to make sure every one of our customers is satisfied, not just with their food, but their whole La Palma experience,” says Julie McCray, La Palma’s general manager. “We try and make each one of them feel special. I think that’s why we have so many regulars.” At the same time, everyone who works at the restaurant feels the family connection as well. “Our staff has been together for a long time; we just get each other,” Julie adds.

Originally, La Palma was founded and began serving authentic Mexican dishes made using family recipes in Thibodaux, Louisiana. In 2012, Raudel and his family moved to Florida, and in 2014, opened they opened the doors to La Palma Mexican Grill in Leesburg, where the cuisine is a blend of old-school traditions from Mexico, combined with culinary inspirations from California and Louisiana. Every entrée is made using only the freshest of ingredients, and includes the popular Tacos Azteca, carnitas, fajitas, chori-pollo, homemade tamales, and signature La Palma bowl, loaded with rice, black beans, queso dip or guacamole sauce, a choice of meat, corn, and avocados. In addition, La Palma’s chefs are known for continuously experimenting with new ideas, recipes, and spices.

“Our goal is to create dishes that will appeal to each one of our customers’ unique tastes,” says Julie, explaining that besides the food, décor is also a very important part of La Palma. People can sit comfortably in the beautiful dining room or festive bar, which features hand-carved booth seats and bar stools shaped like barrels that Raudel had custom made for the restaurant. A party room is also available by reservation, for large gatherings or meetings, at no extra charge. Additionally, people can be seated outdoors on the patio deck and enjoy a serene view of the grounds. One fun aspect is often spotting wild animals in the trees. And if that’s not enough, guests can look forward to fast and friendly service, reasonable prices, and three-for-one margaritas in 12 flavors to choose from, all day, every day.

For a full menu, hours or more information, visit or call 352.323.1444 for daily specials.

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WHEN CLEAN JUST ISN’T CLEAN ENOUGH. Ultimate Contract Cleaning is now using a breakthrough commercial cleaning process with the EMist Disinfectant Spray technology. This powerful, efficient cleaning system uses an electrostatic sprayer, that administers an even coating application that spans across hard-to-reach areas typically not touched by manual application.





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The Country Club for Horse Owners

Equestrians like you deserve a place that is uniquely your own. A private place where you can board and not be bored. A place where you can ride, train, compete, dine, and unwind. A relaxing place set on 300+ oak-shaded acres, where your every need is anticipated, and the equestrian life is celebrated. The Grand Oaks Resort & Saddle Club is that special place.

Home & Stall Rentals Available

Make this renowned resort your very own. Enjoy unlimited access to all of our distinctive amenities with your cottage, estate home, or monthly stall rental. Schedule your tour today to discover The Grand Oaks — mere minutes from • 352.750.5500

World Equestrian Center, Ocala, and The Villages.

3000 Marion County Road • Weirsdale, Florida 32195

WHAT’S IN A NAME? Compare the Google ratings for Robert’s of Ocala to other funeral homes. THERE IS A DIFFERENCE!


So why wait? If not now, when? The best time to discuss your funeral services is when you don’t need them. With so many decisions to make, you can protect your loved ones by lifting that burden from them during a time of grief. Pre-planning isn’t for you, it’s for them.

Call now 352-537-8111 Let us help you save $$$ by locking in your prearrangements at today’s price, avoiding inflation and gaining peace of mind. CALL NOW!

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Owners of The Garland Guy

home based business felt an actual store “ Our front would be beneficial. As Leesburg natives,

opening one in downtown was an easy decision for us.

The Garland Guy 202 W. Main St, Leesburg FL 352.250.2025

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OPEN YOUR IN HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LEESBURG! Looking to start your own business? Affordable retail and professional space available for immediate move-in. All impact fees are waived within the redevelopment district on existing buildings.

View current available properties on our website!

352.537.8111 | 606 SW Ave., Ocala SALES CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE *Offers above are based on select pre-arrangement packages and are not retroactive to previous purchases. Beneficiary must be present with coupon/ad at time of purchase. Expires 12/31/21.

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Everything Leesburg in a


Special Events • Restaurants • Shopping • Lake Maps

Scan this QR code and download the FREE app today!


NOW HIRING Electrical Works is hiring experience full-time positions for our Leesburg location. Commercial Electricians | Electrician Helpers | Warehouse & Facilities

Benefits: Medical - Dental - Vision - 401K - Vacation/Paid Holidays Profit Sharing - Company Paid Life Insurance Electrical Works has partnered with Lake Sumter State College to offer the Electrician Apprentiship Program. Check out more information at

APPLY TODAY Email or call 352.460.0810

8010 US Highway 441, Leesburg | 352.460.0810 | LICENSE EC13005476





12, 2022 | 5:30 P.M.

@THE BROWNWOOD HOTEL & SPA Join us as we celebrate our community and cardiovascular health care advancements through fellowship and fundraising. Net proceeds raised will be invested to create the most advanced cardiac catheterization laboratory in the region at UF Health The Villages® Hospital.

To RSVP, sponsor or be an auction contributor, please contact Cathy Reardon at 352.751.8871 or via email at For current event updates, please visit our website at or follow us at


Auxiliary Foundation






Saturday, Dec. 11, 5p.m. - 7p.m. Spend an evening downtown Leesburg viewing some awesome corvettes and other classics, while enjoying our dining, shops, and great music.


50/50 Raffle proceeds to benefit Forward Paths.

Sponsored by


More information at If your business or Car Club is interested in Sponsoring a show, please contact | Sponsorships start at $100



Checking it twice Hello December, the proverbial best-behavior-inducing month! STORY: ROXANNE BROWN

ow, I cannot believe December has arrived and that Christmas is just around the corner, but I’m happy about it. I love this time of year! I’m a sucker for Christmas lights, decorations and ugly sweaters, slightly cooler weather, holiday-inspired scented candles, and the kind, generous and more cheerful spirits and attitudes people typically extend one another. I am also one who waits until December when in the holiday spirit to listen to Christmas music and start my shopping. I even love crowds of people everywhere searching for the perfect something special for others, and the thrill of cool, down-to-the-wire finds for those on my “nice list.” And speaking of nice lists, that is something I really miss benefiting from now that my kids are grown. When they were little, we would get their Christmas wish-lists as soon as Thanksgiving rolled around, along with constant reminders of how good they’d been most of the year, or how good they were vowing to be starting then. What that translated to in my head, was a guarantee my husband and I would have the sweetest, best-behaved kids in the world. And at least through the holidays, and to keep them in check, I could start using the nice list reference to my advantage!

When the kids would fight, act up, get lazy, cry, or withhold hugs, all I had to do was remind them that if they didn’t stop, shape-up or listen, “Santa” would switch them over to the “naughty list.” What fun, sweet leverage, because Santa, as much of a giver as he is rumored to be, was the bad guy for a minute, not me! But those days are gone. Today, I can only wish for my kids’ belief in the jolly old elf, versus hoping they will comply to their naggy ‘ole mom’s pleas to complete missing assignments or extra chores here and there, control their hormonal attitudes, stick to house rules, or simply hug me on demand. With that said, I have heard that parents with younger kids trying to use the nice list tactic this year, may find it harder anyway, since the usual load of gift items and toys may not hit store shelves in time for Christmas. If that’s the case, parents may need to start plugging the shorthanded state of Santa’s workshop, the importance of familial quality time, and most of all, the actual reason for the season. And even if it’s true that fixings for a proper holiday dinner may be hard to come by too, I will try my best to make sure that no matter what we end up with on the table or under the tree, our whole family’s time together is sprinkled with love and gratitude. As for the ‘nice list’ trick, I will tuck it under my sleeve for future use on grandkids someday!

Hey, readers! Is there a particular subject that you would like me to write a commentary about? Tell me, via email, at

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