1. New Year. New You.

    Every year on January 1st we are all given a fresh start. A new beginning. A clean slat to begin a new year. Many of us set New Years resolutions to help us achieve this and one of the most common of these is to lose weight and get more fit.  Forbes magazine approximated that over 40% of Americans set New Years goals while only 8% actually achieve them. Don’t let that be you!

    There are tons of ways to get active in and around your Neal Community to help you stay active and burn off those extra punds this year.

    Let’s start with giving some tips on how to set “SMART” goals.  What is a SMART goal? SMART stands for Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. So instead of saying “ I want to get in better shape this year,” apply those 5 items. “I want to join the gym, workout 3 times a week, and loose 3 pounds a month every month this year.” This allows you to track and hold yourself accountable.

    So now, how to get more active! First, let’s start with a few small changes that can make a big difference.

    Consider taking the stairs versus the elevator. The website HealthStatus says a person who weighs 160 pounds burns about nine calories during a minute of walking up a set of stairs. That might not seem like much, but let’s say you do this just two times everyday in 2014. That’s an extra 6,570 calories burned.

    Park in a spot a little further away from the store to force yourself to walk a longer distance. Again, small steps that can go a big way burning extra calories without even trying!

    Get moving during commercial breaks! Instead of sitting the entire time while watching your favorite TV show, consider moving around during the commercial breaks. The Chicago Tribune estimates that a one-hour show has approximately 20 minutes of commercial time. Use it to do some lighter exercises such as push-ups, marching in place, sit ups, or even squats. Or why not kill two birds with one stone and do some chores during the breaks? Loading the dishwasher, folding laundry, dusting, or vacuuming will keep you moving about (and keep your house clean!)

    But why stop there? Especially when you have so many opportunities to have fun while getting fit in your Neal Community! As a builder in Southwest Florida, all of our communities are not far from the beautiful white sandy beaches of the Gulf coast.  Walks on the beach, swimming, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking, and surfing are all options for the beach bum in you. Not to mention, we have a feeling you will love the view. Or consider going for a stroll within your community.  Challenge an opponent to a game of tennis. The mayoclinic notes that one-hour of play can result in burning 584 calories in a 160 pound person.

    If you live in one of our communities offering a kayak or canoe launch, start paddling! One hour can burn as many as 256 calories and is a great workout to tone those arms and back!

    When is the last time you challenged your kids to a game of one-on-one on the basketball court?  Considering you can burn a whopping 584 calories in just one hour, you might consider starting again, tonight!

    Our Grand Palm residents have fitness classes lead by instructors designed to challenge every level and burn unwanted calories. Check out the class schedule for when Water Aerobics take place. Also, be sure to join the walking and running group or the bicycle club!

    Hit the pavement on your bike as your explore your community and burn close to 300 calories in an hour.

    If you doubt your dedication to accomplishing your resolution, grab a buddy to keep you on track and accountable. Whatever you do, don’t give up! Think how happy you will be in a year when you reach your goal! You can do this!

    Here’s to a new you in the new year.

     


  2. A Season of Giving

    Tis the season for giving to those we love and the ones in need. Do you remember as a little kid unwrapping a new, shiny toy?  Or the overwhelming excitement you felt the night before the first night of Hanukkah or Christmas Eve night? Every child deserves to feel that excitement, to experience the joy of finding a new toy just for him or her. We hope this holiday season, you will be in the spirit to give back to your communities and those children who are less fortunate.

    The Toys for Tots organization is the Marine Corps’ premier community action program that raises money for toys to donate to less fortunate children around the country. While the program runs year round in over 700 communities across the country, most donations take place around the holidays. Members of the community are encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys into collection boxes located in local businesses around the community.  Designated Toys for Tots coordinators collect the toys, sort the toys by age and gender, and store them.  At Christmas, Coordinators, and volunteers distribute the toys to the less fortunate children of the community.

    Over the past 53 years, the U.S. Marines have distributed over 272,000,000 toys to 133,000,000 needy children throughout the nation.

    Neal Communities has always placed a very strong emphasis on community. Throughout the year, our company dedicates time, money, and resources to give back to communities throughout Southwest Florida. This holiday season will be no exception to giving back to our communities to help those in need and make this a great place to live, work, and raise families. Neal Communities is participating in Toys for Tots. We recently had to get another box because the first one Toys for Tots provided was overflowing with gifts. Not a bad problem to have by any means! Something unique about our commitment to this organization is Neal Communities committed to donating bikes for their donation. At this time, over 100 toys have been donated and at least 17 bikes. It’s exciting to think of the number of smiles these gifts will create for children in our community!

    Stay up-to-date on our Toys for Tots progress by following us on Facebook.

    For more information about the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program you can visit the website at http://www.toysfortots.org/.

    Donate to the cause on the organization’s website by clicking here.

    Happy Holidays from Neal Communities!


  3. Holiday Decoration Ideas

    One of our favorite places to collect holiday ideas is Pinterest. From recipes, to organization tips, to ideas for decorating the home, the ideas are endless.

    And with a focus on “do it yourself” many of the ideas on Pinterest can be implemented at a low cost – something that helps everyone out during the holidays.  Below we’ve put together some decorating ideas that will add some fa-la-la-la-la to your home without spending too much mullah-la-la-la.

    Wine Bottle Vases

    This blogger shared her idea of painting old bottles white and finishing with spray on snow. You can fill the tops with flowers, poinsettias, branches, holly, or other branches to add color to this winter wonderland. 

    Mantel Decorations

    Are your stockings hung by the fire with care? There are so many ideas for decorating your mantel that your biggest decision will be choosing your favorite! Lights, candles, garland! Using leftover decorations or items around your home, you can easily decorate your fireplace at little to no cost.  Start by selecting the colors you want to use to decorate: reds and greens, silver and gold, blue, or multicolored. Fill large, clear vases with ornaments, peppermints, or jingle bells for an accent piece.  You can also buy stocking hangers that come shaped in holiday related pieces like moose, snowmen, or stars to hang stockings in style.  A trend that has been becoming increasingly popular is the use of wooden letters on fireplace mantels. Considering buying pieces to spell words such as “Peace”, “Joy” or “Believe” to add some authentic flair to your mantel.

    Decorative Pillows

    Another small idea that can make a huge difference is swapping your couch pillows with holiday pillows! Many stores sell decorative pillows including Target, Home Goods, or Pier 1 Imports like the ones shown below. Consider throwing a plush, holiday colored throw behind them to make your pillows really pop. Plus, it will be perfect to keep you warm on those colder winter nights. If you are looking for a craft to keep you busy, find some “Pinspiration” from these decorative pillows we found on Pinterest.

    Cake Stand Candles

    If you have a cake stand lying around that isn’t in use, put it to good use with this great idea. Place an arrangement of candles in different lengths in the center and surround them with some color using a red or colored wreath. Simple, elegant, and calorie free.

    Popcorn Garland

    Now that your home is looking festive on the inside, we can’t forget about your outdoor decorations! Your home can go from bah humbug to bah-utiful in no time. Consider purchasing smaller trees to place on each side of your front door. Keep the kids busy with this fun craft making popcorn and cranberry garland! Pop a bag of popcorn and pick up a bag of cranberries while you’re out doing your holiday shopping. Use a needle and thread to string together one piece of popcorn next to a cranberry. Make sure you make it long enough to wrap around your trees.

    Other subtle decorations include hanging a wreath on your front door, wrapping pillars or fences with garland intertwined with lights, placing poinsettias on the porch, or adding a holiday door mat to welcome guests with cheer.

    We hope this ideas help put you in the holiday spirit to decorate your beautiful Neal Communities home!


  4. A Thanksgiving Recipe You’ll Want to Gobble Up

    What do you have to be thankful for this month? Perhaps your health, your family, a friendship, a good job, a new opportunity, your beautiful home, or even the opportunity to spend some quality time with the ones you love for the Thanksgiving holiday over delicious food.

    Most likely, you have Thanksgiving memories from when you were a younger child. From the decorations, to the cranberry dressing, to the pumpkin pie recipe passed down in your family, Thanksgiving is a day to carry on traditions, especially ones related to food.

    Where did those traditions begin? The First Thanksgiving took place in 1621 and contained turkey, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin, and squash. Many of those foods have become staples in today’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Fried, baked, stuffed, or broiled, turkey, no matter how prepared, is the most common dish with more than 270 million turkeys raised for the holiday according to U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry.

    Of course, you can always start your own traditions, too! Our Neal Communities’ “Holidays” Pinterest Board is full of great ideas to get you started. From table runners, to centerpieces, to front door decorating ideas and even fingernail painting inspirations, new ideas are waiting for you to be discovered!

    We would love to hear your traditional and untraditional recipe ideas!

    Enjoy this delicious Chicken Apple Sausage and Feta Salad  from one of our very own Neal Employees!

    Salad Ingredients

    • 1 pack of Aidells Chicken Apple Sausage
    • 2 zucchinis cut into ¼ inch thick slices
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 1 Tbs. Olive Oil
    • Garlic Powder
    • Mixed Green
    • 1 package Feta Cheese (crumbled)
    • 1 Large Red Apple cubed
    • Sunflower Seeds
    • Pumpkin Seeds
    • 1 Tbs. fresh basil

    Dressing Ingredients

    • ¼ cup Balsamic Vinegar
    • 1 Tbs. Honey
    • Salt and Pepper
    • 2/3 cup olice oil
    • 2 Tbs Water
    • 1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
    • 1 Tbs chopped green onions

    Directions

    Heat an indoor grill-pan to medium to high heat (or regular pan if no grill-pan on hand).   Slice Sausages lengthwise and grill until browned on each side, approximately 5 to 6 minutes on each side.  Remove from grill and cut into bite size pieces.  Return pieces to grill pan until somewhat crispy.  Remove and set aside to cool.

    Coat Zucchini slices with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a bit of garlic powder.  Grill zucchini on grill pan on both sides, approximately 3 to 4 minutes on each side over med heat.  Remove from pan and set aside to cool.

    In large salad bowl, layer as follows:  mixed greens, feta cheese, apples, and sausages and zucchini.  Toss lightly and sprinkle with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fresh basil.

    Whisk together all salad dressing ingredients in a bowl or a small jar or serving container.

    Dressing can either be tossed in or left on side to add by individual preference, and then ENJOY!

    Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving!


  5. 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!

     


  6. 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.

    TO ENTER THE CONTEST VISIT HERE!

    https://www.facebook.com/NealCommunities/app_608603552524366?ref=br_tf

     


  7. FALL in love.

    It’s time to say goodbye to summer and hello to fall. Time to welcome cooler weather, sweaters and pumpkin flavored everything. Living in Florida, we often don’t get the atmospheric changes of fall such as the leaves changing colors or cool autumn breezes. Despite our constant greenery, Floridians can get in the fall spirit too!

    Decorating the home to match the season is a quick and easy way to celebrate.

    1. Add a touch of autumn to your home décor with Autumnal colors, wicker pieces and accent pieces from nature such as gourds, pumpkins, branches or dried leaves.

    2. Instead of carving pumpkins this fall, try a unique approach of painting your pumpkin. You can create endless designs using acrylic paint and painter’s tape. Try designs such as a two-tone, dipped look or popular chevron stripes. Take a look at these,“12 Painted Pumpkin Ideas” to gather inspiration.  Set a bewitching scene inside or out with jack-o’-lanterns in whimsical, easy-to-paint designs this fall.

    3. Spice up any door with an autumn themed wreath. This splash of fall color brings warmth and life to any front door.

    4. Fill your home the delicious smells of fall with pumpkin, spiced apple or cinnamon. These signature autumn scents are sure to bring the feeling of fall in your home.

    5. Another great way to bring the scents of fall into your home is to do a little fall baking. Not only will your house smell amazing but indulging yourself with a warm pumpkin treat will surely put you in the mood for the season.

    Check out this easy recipe for pumpkin cinnamon rolls.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    PUMPKIN CINNAMON ROLLS

    Author: Erin Alderson

    Recipe type: Breakfast

    Prep time:  2 hours 30 mins Cook time: 30 mins Total time:  3 hours

     

    Serves: 12

    • ¾ cup milk
    • 2½ teaspoon yeast
    • ⅓ cup natural sugar
    • 1 cup pumpkin
    • ⅓ cup melted butter
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 whole eggs
    • 4- 4½ cup Unbleached all purpose flour
    • divider filling
    • ¼ cup butter
    • ⅔ cup sucanat
    • ¼ cup natural sugar
    • 2 tablespoon cinnamon
    • 2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • divider Pumpkin Glaze
    • 1 cup pumpkin
    • ¼ cup natural sugar
    • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
    • ¼-1/2 cup milk
    • Heat milk (either in a sauce pan or microwave) until milk begins to simmer- add butter. Let cool until a warm temperature (about 120˚)
    • In a stand mixer bowl, at milk mixture, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for five minutes. Add 3 cups of flour, salt, pumpkin, eggs and start mixer with dough hook. Add the remaining flour, ½ cup at a time continuing until the dough pulls together. Continue kneading the dough until smooth and elastic- at least eight minutes.
    • Either in the mixer bowl or a separate bowl, lightly spray the dough with cooking oil and place in a warm, draft free spot until dough has doubled in size (around an hour and a half.)
    • Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out into a 10 by 14 rectangle. Rub butter over entire surface and cover with sucanat mixture. Roll the dough into a log, squeeze slightly and adjust to form. Cut into 12 pieces (cut in half, the cut each half into half then each piece is cut into three pieces.) Place in a sprayed 9 X 13 pan.
    • Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. (Or if you want to continue on, cover and let rise for another hour and follow with remaining instructions.)
    • The next morning, preheat the oven to 350˚ and remove cinnamon rolls from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for a half hour.
    • Bake for 25-30 minutes until cinnamon rolls are a nice golden brown color. Let cool slightly.
    • While cinnamon rolls cool slightly, combine icing ingredients and while cinnamon rolls are still warm spoon icing over the rolls.

    Enjoy while warm (as if there is such a thing as cold cinnamon rolls-usually they are gone before they even have the chance to cool down!)

    For more tips, tricks and recipes for the fall season visit our Pinterest Page and follow our boards.

     

    http://www.pinterest.com/nealcommunities/holidays/


  8. Red, White, and Boom

    The Fourth of July is a holiday filled with fireworks, food, and fun and Sarasota offers locals so much to do, no matter your age or interests! Have you made plans for the holiday? Consider trying some of the fun events happening around your community.

    The Suncoast Super Boat Grand Prix takes place from June 29-July 7th and offers entertainment for all! A golf classic, car show, boat races, poker tournament, fireworks, live music, delicious food and so much more. This year’s festival parade will honor hometown hero Nik Wallenda, who was the first person to walk across the Grand Canyon on a high wire. Watch a clip of this here. This is one event you won’t want to miss.

    On the breathtaking Longboat Key, pre-fireworks can be enjoyed on July 2 at the Boom Boom on the Bay. Fireworks will begin after dark.

    Anna Maria Island will be setting off fireworks over the Gulf right behind Beachhouse Restaurant located at 200 Gulf Drive N on Bradenton Beach. They start after dark but grab your spot early!

    If you are looking for a place to burn off the calories you’ve consumed in hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie, don’t miss the 7th Annual Firecracker Run. It takes place July 4th at the Morgan Family Community Center at 6207 West Price Blvd, and begins at 7:30 a.m. Find more information on registration here.

    Are you planning on staying home for the holiday? Or setting off fireworks of your own? While it’s always best to leave it to professionals, there are safety tips you can follow to lower the risk of injury.  The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission put together a list of safety tips you should follow if you will be shooting off your own fireworks. Considering an average of 200 people have to visit the E.R. around the holiday, we highly suggest you follow the tips closely!

    And for those who just can’t wait, here’s a sneak peak of last years fireworks.

     

    Share with us you plans for the holidays! Where will you be watching fireworks? Whatever you decide to do this 4th of July, we hope you have a safe and fun holiday with your loved ones.


  9. Kids DIY Fathers Day Craft

    A dad is a man who wears many hats. He is the brave man who checks for monsters in the closet and under the bed. He is teacher on how to throw a baseball, or how to fix a car. He is the master of the grill, the fixer of the broken objects around the house, and an all-around fun guy to be with.

    This Fathers Day, give your dad a gift he will love that comes from the heart!

    Coffee Lover Dad. Buy a plain colored mug and paint either a message or picture on it. “I love dad” or “World’s best dad” are some ideas to get you started.

    World Traveler Dad. Put together a traveling shaving kit. Include shaving cream, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, and other necessities he could use on the road.

    Office Dad. Paint a picture frame and place your favorite photo inside.  That way, he can see it everyday while he is at work.

    Chef Dad. Buy a plain white apron and decorate it “ King of the Grill” “Kiss the Cook” or Grill Master are all fun things to write. We loved this apron idea from this blog.

    Card Player Dad. If your dad loves playing cards, consider making him his own set. Trace the shape of a card and cut 52. You can make each suite something he loves, a baseball, a golf ball, hamburger, car, etc. Get creative!

    No matter what you decide to do, your dad will love it knowing it is coming from you. Share with us what you are giving your dad this year or in years past!

    Happy Father’s Day to all of the dad and granddads out there!


  10. Throw a Memorable Memorial Day Party!

    Are you hosting a BBQ for Memorial Day?

    Try these recipes we have collected for you for a party that will surely be remembered!

    Main course-

    For an easy and delicious burger, try this recipe! Combine ground beef, a packet of dry ranch dressing, and shredded cheese. Mix ingredients and form into patties.  Cook on the grill, flipping until meat is cooked to the desired temperature.

    Side Dish-

    Corn on the cob- Nothing says “let’s kick off summer’ like corn on the cob. Peel off the husks on the corn. Slather with butter and season with sea salt and pepper. Wrap up in aluminum foil. Add a little water in with the aluminum foil when wrapping. Grill and turn until kernels are cooked.

    Dessert-

    This patriotic meal is sure to be a hit.  In a parfait cup, layer blueberries, cool whip, and cut up strawberries. Repeat order until the parfait cup is full and add a dollop of cool whip on the top.

    If you are looking for decorating ideas, try hanging American flags around, or red, white, and blue stars. Centerpieces on the table can be a bouquet or red, white, and blue flowers.  American themed table clothes can be found at many craft stores.

    Whatever is on the menu, let us not forget why we celebrate this holiday – Thanks to all of the military, past and present, who fight for our country. Happy Memorial Day!