1. Have a Happy Halloween With These Tips

    One night a year, the sky seems a little darker than usual. A crisp air blows through the streets. The smallest noise will make you jump. And black cats seem to be the scariest animal in the world. Yes, it’s Halloween.

    It’s also the one night of the year that a kid can do all the things they aren’t normally supposed to: Talk to strangers, cross the street, stay up late, and of course, most importantly, eat a lot of candy.  However, as a parent, it is important to enforce some safety tips to ensure the night can be fun and problem free.

    Trick-or-Treater Tips:

    Knowing it might be dark out when the kids are knocking door to door, consider placing reflectors or reflective tape on shoes, costumes, or treat bags. This will allow for greater visibility.

    Avoid any sharp accessories for costumes including pointy swords, sticks, etc. Find some that have rounded edges or are made from plastic. Why?  Explain further

    Don’t forget to send a flashlight out! Before doing so, check that it works and that it has fresh batteries.

    Go over the basics with kids. Remind them to look both ways before crossing the street and always watch for cars. Also tell them to avoid eating candy that isn’t wrapped completely and to only visit homes with lights on.  Also reminding them to stay in a group at all time.- not a sentence Encourage them to always walk on the sidewalk versus the road and stay on the well lit streets.

    Of course, a parent or responsible adult should always accompany children throughout the neighborhood for safety purposes.

    Candy Givers:

     If you happen to be staying home to pass out candy and judge Halloween costumes, consider some of these things to keep your visitors safe.

    Remove anything from your yard or porch that could potentially trip someone.

    Restrain any pets so they can’t reach visitors.

    Keep a light on to make the path easier to see.

    Candy eaters:

    The work has been done. After hours of getting dressed, walking door to door to ask for candy, and attempting to not let anyone frighten them, the kids have collected buckets full of delicious, sugary, finger-lickin’ good candy.  To avoid a sugar overload, make sure they have a healthy balances meal first. This will prevent them from eating more candy than needed.

    Ration treats over the course of the next few days or even weeks.

    Though tampering is rare, make sure to look through candy and trash any pieces that are unwrapped, spoiled, or suspicious.


    Halloween can be a very fun holiday, especially for kids (or candy lovers). If you keep these tips in your mind, your Halloween will be a treat! Have a boo-utiful evening!

    Don’t forget to check the paper for local trick –or-treat times!


  2. Leading by Example

    At Neal Communities, we lead by example. Lending a helping hand to the community has always been a top priority from everyone at Neal. Neal Communities has donated funds for wildlife preservation; school projects, field trips and programs; humane animal services; healthcare and the arts.

    Here are some of the ways that Neal Communities has given back recently:

    Forest Creek Park Dedication

    Neal Communities’ trademark starts with preserving the natural characteristics of every piece of land and adding to it to enhance and protect these features.

    This past summer, Neal dedicated a new park in its Forest Creek community in Parrish to the Lescenski family, who owned the land from 1954 until Neal purchased it in 2004. The family’s former property makes up the third phase of Forest Creek development.


    Green Building

    Neal Communities has employed BuildSmart initiatives since 1999 and offers an array of Build Green choices for products that you can select for your home. We also provide tips from BuildSmart on cooling and heating homes efficiently, ways to conserve water and reduce appliance and lighting energy consumption.

    This September, Neal Communities was recognized by The Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) as “Builder of the Year” at its Green Trends Conference at the Ritz Carlton in Sarasota. This is another fantastic example of how Neal takes giving back to the next level.


    This July, Neal Communities donated its fifth payment of $20,000, to complete a $100,000 total gift, towards the Lakewood Ranch office building campaign for space shared by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Manatee County. Neal was a top-level benefactor of the building campaign, joining over 130 businesses, organizations, and individuals who worked together over the past five years to support the project.

    Neal Communities is committed to building communities, not just constructing homes. That means we are involved on many levels and invest in the people that make this a great place to live and raise a family. Pat Neal has always believed that “The people who live in a Neal Community expect and deserve our support.”

  3. Kayaking Tips for Beginners

    The sun is starting to rise over the calm water your kayak sits in. The blue, greens, and browns of nature fill your site and all is calm and quiet.  Your To- Do list seems to magically disappear from your thoughts and the only thing on your mind is how beautiful nature is and how much you have to be thankful for. There is truly something to be said about the sport of kayaking.

    But how does one get started? Here are a few tips to help.

    What Kind of Kayak to Buy

    Kayaks come in many different styles, sizes, and price ranges. If you are just getting started, you most likely are looking for a recreational board. That simply means that you will be staying in calmer waters like ponds, flat rivers, lakes, or protected areas of the ocean.

    When selecting your kayak, you can also decide how many people will join you. Whether you want to stick to solo kayak trips only, or plan on bringing (or dragging) one or two more people with you, there’s a kayak that will accommodate what you want.

    The wider the width, the more stable the kayak will be from tipping.  While taking a splash in the water might be the greatest idea in the world on a hot summer day in Florida, you don’t want your kayak to flip every time you go out for a ride, so kayak width is important.

    Also when you check out the price tag, be realistic with how often you’ll use your kayak. This may help you determine how much you’re willing to spend. Make sure to keep your height and weight in mind when selecting to get the kayak best suited for you.

    Where To Take Your New Kayak

    A handful of our communities offer kayak livery, making it easier than ever for you to get started in the sport. River’s Reach, and Forest Creek  are a few, but the options on where to launch your kayak (or canoe) in Southwest Florida don’t stop there! Check out the Water Recreation Guide from Sarasota County that maps out all of the places offering kayak trails.  Wherever you go, take a moment to sit back and take in the natural beauty around you.

    How to Get in (And Out)

    So you purchased the perfect kayak. You took the time to find the place where you want to use it. You put it in the water and think, “ How am I supposed to get in this thing?”

    You aren’t alone. No one wants to tip the kayak, but this process is easier than you think. When you untie your kayak, make sure you hold on to the line. Use your paddle if water is shallow enough to hold the kayak steady as you slowly step in one foot at a time. Don’t forget, that the lower your sense of gravity, the better balance you will have so don’t be afraid to crouch or bend your knees. When you’ve finished your adventure, you can do the same thing in reverse! Of course, if you aren’t afraid to get your shoes a little wet (and muddy) you can always pull your kayak up far enough on the shore to help you get into it easily from there.

    How to Steer

    To begin, watch this short video that will help you get used to the process.

    After you’ve been in the water for a while, you will get the hang of it. If you need to turn your kayak, simply place your paddle on one side of your kayak, the OPPOSITE of which you want to turn into to. Once you have turned, continue paddling normal.

    We can’t wait to hear all about your kayaking experiences! Tell us about your favorite kayak trails and the tips you would offer those just starting out!

  4. Do it yourself this Halloween!

    In a few short weeks, the street will be filled with creatures of all kinds. Witches, wizards, clowns and ghosts will roam the streets with bags of candy in hand. It is that magical time of year once again; Halloween. Coming up with the perfect Halloween costume can take extensive amounts of time. The trick is how to find the perfect balance of uniqueness and originality all while not breaking the bank.

    Skip the jam-packed costume stores this year and make your own costume! We have some fun and easy ideas for the whole family this Halloween. We did not forget about the four-legged friends! Featured below are DIY pet costumes as well.

    Check out these 5 EASY DIY costume inspirational ideas for this Halloween:

    1. From the Dr. Seuss classic, ” The Cat in the Hat” comes the two troublemakers, Thing 1 and Thing 2. This DIY costume is perfect for any age.

    2. DIY Garbage bag witch costume. This no-sew costume is a great last minute costume idea that you can make with things around the house!

    3. Let’s get Risky! Risky Business that is. This classic 80′s film makes for the perfect Halloween costume. Putting together this costume is easy as pie. All you need is a men’s dress shirt, slip on a pair of old school scrunch socks and a fresh pair of men’s briefs. Finish off the look with Tom Cruise’s unmistakable Risky Business wayfarer shades. Most importantly, practice your slide!

    4. A great costume idea for men is a bee keeper. Create buzz this Halloween with this EASY costume idea for men.

     5. Sometimes, it’s all about the details. Everyone is familiar with the iconic Medusa hairstyle. With a few braids and inexpensive rubber snakes, you too can be the sneaky, mythical goddess.

     6. Lions and dinosaurs and spiders OH MY! We didn’t forget about your Furry Friends. Dress up your pet with any of these 27 easy DIY pet costume ideas for this Halloween. After they are dressed to the nines, don’t forget to photograph them and enter them into our Furry Friends contest on Facebook! You and your stylish pet could win $100 gift card to PetSmart or other great prizes.




  5. Fall Into Some Fun This Month!

    Fall is officially here. Many of us fill our homes with delicious fall fragrances …pumpkin anyone? And if we are lucky, the weather will get cool enough for us to turn off our overworked AC’s and open our windows to breathe in the crisp fall air.

    Luckily, it’s also a great time to stay busy and find plenty of fun activities near you. Sarasota might not have colorful leaves this fall, or ANY fall for that matter, but it does have a lot to offer! And thanks to the gulf coasts’ year-round warm weather, you can enjoy spending extra time outside this month.

    If you are looking for a fun date night, kid friendly event, or just something new to do, consider one of these events.

    The lovely neighborhood of Lakewood Ranch is having Music on the Main the first Friday of each month (October 4). From 6-9 p.m. stop in for beer, wine, food, face painters, balloon twisters, caricature art, and music too of course. Bring your chairs and unwind after a long week while listening to live music.  Parking is available at the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

    Elephants, lions, acrobatics, daring stunts, delicious foods….yep, the circus is coming to town! The Sahib Shrine Circus will be held at the Sailor Circus Arena from October 4-5 for three shows only. Click for more information on show times and tickets!

    Southside Village Oktoberfest is your chance to stuff yourself with delicious German foods, listen to German music, sample beers, and dance. Get down there on October 5th at the corner of Hillview and Osprey Avenue in Sarasota. Music starts at 5 sharp, so don’t be late.  Pretzels, sausages, and fun are waiting.

    For car enthusiasts, take a ride right on down to St. Armand’s Circle Park for the Auto-Rama 2013.  You’ll get a look at what is coming in the future from car manufacturers from 10am-4pm on which date???

    If you still haven’t gotten into the fall spirit, this is the event for you. Hayrides, bonfire, scavenger hunts, and so much more are taking place at the Pumpkin Patch Party at St. James United Method Church. Pick out a pumpkin and get inspired by these Jack-o-lantern ideas! If you’ve never carved a pumpkin before, check out this video.

    Here are a few more events near you to check out.

    The 3rd Annual International Beer Festival will take place October 26th on Main Street at Lakewood Ranch. Unlimited samples of more than 100 craft beers are yours for the taking.

    That very same day, the Florida Blues and Music Festival is taking place featuring some impressive headlining acts. Tickets have already gone on sale so don’t wait to buy yours (link to where tickets are sold) and don’t forget to bring a chair.

    With so many things to do, you can really fall in love with your community this autumn. Take advantage of the cooler weather and all of the fun things to do near you!