1. DIY – For the Hostess with the Mostess: Make Your Own Chalkboard Serving Platter

    Planning on playing host or hostess in your new Neal kitchen? We’ve got the perfect creative project for you! With chalkboard art being all the rage, we thought we’d incorporate it into our home. With your own chalkboard serving platter you can creatively label all the items you have on your platter and we guarantee it will have your guests swooning! Cheese, crackers, cookies or more, this is a fun project that will add that special touch! Follow the simple instructions here!


  2. DIY- Build Your Own Mason Jar Herb Garden

    With BBQ season in full swing and Easter cooking around the corner, we thought it might be fun to start growing your own personal herb garden! There’s nothing quite like having fresh ingredients to add to a tasty salad or main dish! Not only will it add a pop of color to your garden, it also tastes great, too! This DIY project is quick and easy and is one that the whole family to get involved with. For a list of materials and simple instructions click here! Visit our Pinterest page for more fun DIY ideas!

    (Photo: http://camillestyles.com/uncategorized/transformed-mason-jar-herb-garden/)

     


  3. Make Your Home Eco-Friendly

    Living green and turning your Neal Community house into an eco-friendly home can be fun for the family and is a great way to give back to the planet! Have you ever thought about what your family household’s carbon footprint is?  Calculate it here!

    We’ve got 3 eco-friendly alternatives to help your household reduce its carbon footprint:

    1. Instead of paper napkins, try cloth napkins that come in a range of fabrics, patterns and colors! Not only will it help the planet, it is a quick and easy way to give your table décor an instant face-lift!

    2.Change up your light bulbs for energy saving bulbs.  You will be cutting down on energy and on your household expenses!

    3. Instead of using dryer sheets and fabric softeners, why don’t you try adding eco-friendly dryer balls to the laundry load!  No chemicals will seep into your clothing and your clothes will dry faster!

     

    Going green doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult. With just a few minor alternatives you can reduce your family’s carbon footprint and get a glowing green thumb of appreciation from us!

    When you purchase a home from Neal Communities, you’re getting our environmental commitment that we are a builder who leads by example.  Our unwavering commitment to responsible land development, natural habitat preservation, innovative home building and unsurpassed customer service is our benchmark for success.

     


  4. Fall in Love with The Arts This Winter

    “The earth without “art” is just “eh.” – Author Unknown

    As a Southwest Floridian, the arts are at your fingertips.  For entertainment or education purposes, you can take advantage of visiting on or all of the many places around you to experience culture at its finest.  Below we’ll touch on a couple of our favorites.  But for a complete list, visit www.visitsarasota.org.

    Museums

    Art Center Sarasota

    This exquisite museum showcases hundreds of artists’ work throughout the year. Spend the time to walk through the static exhibits or discover the traveling ones that come throughout the year. Through January, CUBEMUSIC from artist Craig Colorusso will take place, presenting a sound and light experience. If you are interested in classes, workshops and programs are offered to adults and children.

    The Ringling

    You’ll flip for joy with all of the fun things there are to do at this museum. Built by the famous circus impresario John Ringling, Floridians can enjoy his gift year round. Sculptors and paintings from around the world fill the interior and courtyard, with 31 galleries. There are also performances from singers and musicians throughout the year. And you can’t miss the circus museum where you can feel like you’ve run off the circus yourself. Walk the tightrope. Take pictures in the clown car. See instruments used for the greatest of performers throughout the years.

    Sarasota Classic Car Museum

    Recognized as the second oldest continuously operating antique car museum in the Nation, this museum will rev your engine! Some of the cars you can check out include John Lennon’s 1965 Mercedes Benz, Paul McCartney’s Mini Cooper, and the Ringling’s collection of Rolls Royce autos. The place is filled with Bentley’s, Ferraris, and Cadillac’s.

    Performing Arts

    Sarasota Opera

    Escape to the magical world that only the opera can bring you. The upcoming season at the Sarasota Opera is sure to impress you. The Sarasota Opera Winter Festival 2014 runs February 8, 2014 through March 23, 2014.  Kicking off the season, Il Trovatore will tug on your heartstrings as a troubadour searches for love, follows a soldiers lust, and a “mother’s undying thirst for vengeance.”

    Florida Studio Theatre

    This well-known theatre in Sarasota hosts plays and musicals throughout the year. Coming soon, include acts such as  “ Monty Python’s Spamalot,” “For the Ages,” “Daddy Long Legs,” and “Two Point Oh.”

    Sarasota Ballet

    Tip Toe around and sneak some tickets to the Ballet for a special someone in your life.  The Sarasota Ballet is currently performing the well-loved “Nutcracker.” It’s a performance that will make you want to start a yearly tradition.

    Recently Neal Communities held its annual “My Favorite Home Art Contest” at B.D. Gullet Elementary. To read more about the event and see this years’ winners, read the press release!


  5. November Fun

    Can you believe that it is already November? Neither can we! The cooler weather, impressive list of things to do this month, and the fact that holidays are just around the corner certainly make this month one to be thankful for.

    Here’s what’s happening around your Neal Community!

    Water lovers unite at the Sarasota Bay Water Festival which will feature SCUBA displays, paddleboard and kayak demos, performances by ski teams and live music. Over 60 local exhibits, food vendors, and entertainment will fill

    Football Fanatics, specifically Florida State Fans, Bobby Bowden will be visiting the Sarasota Municipal Auditorium on Nov. 8th at 7pm. Tickets are $25 for adults and $5 for students and benefit the Sarasota Medical Pregnancy Center.

    Hear ye, Hear ye!! Come one, come all to the Sarasota Medieval Fair taking place on November 9th at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. Feast on turkey legs while watching an intense j

    oist of knights. Live theatrical performances, children activities, music and food fit for a king will be taking place all weekend.

    Foodies (and let’s be honest, who isn’t?) the Taste of Manatee will be held November 2-3 giving you the chance to stroll along the beautiful riverfront and enjoy great food, music, arts and crafts.  This is your chance to sample the cuisine of local restaurants.

    If you attend the festivals and stuff yourself on food, or if you just enjoy a challenging workout, consider competing in the Revolution-3 event in Venice. This 70.3 miles triathlon will begin near Sharky’s with a 1.2 mile swim in the beautiful Gulf . Next, competitors will bike 56-miles and finish with a 13.1 mile footrace to the finish line. Not interested? What if we told you there’s $50,000 in prizes? We thought so. Visit here for more information.

    Take a moment from your busy November schedule to remember our Vets! November 11th is Veteran’s Day. Sarasota will have a parade starting on main street and Osprey Avenue starting at 10 a.m. In Patriot’s Park of Venice, bring your chairs and salute the soldiers at this ceremony.

    Headed to the beach this month? Make sure to schedule some time to visit Siesta Key November 15-18th for the Crystal Classic Master Sand Sculpting Competition.  Twenty extremely talented sculptors will compete for cash prizes. The sculptors will amaze you! And the next time you try to build a sandcastle, you are bound to have even more respect for the artists who compete.

    November 24th will be a night country music lovers will mark down considering Gretchen Wilson, Easton Corbin, Love and Theft, and more will be performing at the Desoto Music Fest. Gates open at 11 a.m. and will last all day so bring your chairs and cowboy hats to the Manatee Fairgrounds.

    Kick off the holiday season with the famous Venice Holiday Parade on November 30th. The 37th Annual Parade begins at 7 p.m. and will feature over 3,000 participants, 120 local companies, and draw over 40,000 viewers. The route runs from Park Blvd. to the Venice Community Center. Come early for the best seats and parking.

    This November, you’ll have more to look forward to than turkey and football  with all the events happening near you! Be sure to check out the events happening in your Neal Community, too!

     


  6. 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!

     


  7. August Adventures- Things to Do Around Town

    Summer is coming to an end, but before the kids go back to school, there is still plenty of fun to be had.  Living near the Gulf Coast, what are some things you enjoy doing? Whether your answer is fishing, hiking, listening to live music outdoors, crafts, or even enjoying an adult beverage, there is something for you to enjoy this month. Why not try something new?

    Do you love to fish? Do you think you could out fish others? The Sarasota Slam Fishing Tournament is your chance to put your skills to the test. Visit the link to get an entry form and more info.  The tournament takes place August 6-10.

    Help get your kids excited to go back to school by taking them to the Back to School Splash Bash at Lakewood Ranch YMCA Pool and Pavillion on August 24. This event is free for kids up to 13 and will offer music, slip and slides, a dunk tank, pool games, prizes, water balloon fights and so much more. Don’t forget your suit and a towel! Interested? Visit this link for more information.

    If you don’t have kids, there is still fun to be had on August 24 at the Annual Sarasota Beer Festival. Admission is $35 at the door (or $20-30 in advance) and includes unlimited sampling of over 100 imported and craft beers, and live music. Bottoms up!

    If you are always looking for something to do on a Friday night, have you ever checked out the “Live from Downtown Sarasota, it’s Friday Night?” Every Friday, locals gather to socialize, listen to live music, and check out local entertainers, street performances, and musicians. When you live somewhere as beautiful as the Gulf Coast, what could be better than enjoying some time outdoors meeting new people and appreciating great weather?

    Have you done your back to school shopping? If your children are in need of new notebooks, pencils, backpacks, or glue, don’t forget to get all your supplies early! If you live in Sarasota, find this list of schools for more information on lunch menus, bus routes, school supply lists and more.

    Don’t forget about Florida’s tax free weekend taking place from August 2-4. This applies to books, clothing, and footwear (75$ or less) and school supplies (15$ or less). For more information, visit this link! Don’t miss out on your chance to save money on back to school supplies.

    Summer may be coming to a close, but there is still plenty of things to do.  What activities will you participate in before school starts?

     

     


  8. Spring into March Events Around You

    Spring is just days away and for some, spring break is just around the corner.  For those of you staying home for the holiday, Sarasota and surrounding areas have a lot to offer!

    Check out some of these events happening around you.

    March 8- Yeehaw! The annual Arcadia All-Florida Championship Rodeo is taking place at the Rodeo Arena in Arcadia.  Come see how long these cowboys can stay on their bulls, barrel races, and bareback riding.  For ticket information, visit http://www.arcadiarodeo.com/.

    March 9- Chill lounge Night takes place in downtown Sarasota along Palm Avenue. The street is blocked off and turned into an outdoor nightclub/lounge with live music and lighting.  All proceeds benefit the United Cerebral Palsy of Sarasota-Manatee.

    March 15-24 The 77th Annual Sarasota County Fair will take place at the Sarasota Fairgrounds. Plan on staying all day, and eating a lot, because this fair has tons of delicious foods, games, and activities for all ages.  Visit the website for more information and directions.

    March 16- St Patty’s day is a pot of golden fun, especially at the Irish Celtic Festival taking place at Central Park in Lakewood Ranch.  Scavenger hunts, parades, foods, and music will make this a day to remember! Find more information here.

    March 23- Hop your way down to Lakewood Ranch for the EGGstravaganza Easter Egg Hunt for children ages 2-13. Rumor has it the Easter Bunny will make a special appearance and there will be a petting zoo and face painters there as well.  The festivities begin at 9:30 am. Find more egg-cellent information here!

    What events will you be attending in March?


  9. Tips to Keep Your Family Healthy

    “The love of a family is life’s greatest blessing.” –William Saroyan

    February is American Heart Month.  Heart disease kills about a 800 million people every year in the United States, or 1 in every three deaths.
    With larger portion sizes, technology that makes jobs easier, and  the everyday stresses associated with life, it seems like we can’t protect ourselves or families. But, there is great news. You can!

    We’ve put together a list of some things you can do with your family right now to help keep your hearts and bodies happy.

    1. You are what you eat

    Your diet has a direct relation to you health. Swap white grains for whole wheat, and water for soda. Limit your sodium intake and eat lots of fruits and veggies. Veggies can be expensive so consider making your own garden or attending local farmer’s markets. There are great farmer’s markets nearby your home that you can took a family trip to. Keep fatty and sugary foods out of the house and make these foods a special occasion, like if your child earns great grades this quarter. Getting children on healthy eating early will help them make better choices with eating growing up, too.

    2. Exercise as a Family

    One of the great things of living in Florida is warm weather year-round. Take a family bike ride, or visit a local park to go hiking. Sarasota has many parks for families of all ages. Are you water fanatics? Enroll in swimming classes or rent a kayak for the day. If you’re short on time, you can always take a stroll around the neighborhood.

     3. Don’t stress

    Even though stress is a normal part of life, no one likes to feel stressed all of the time. According to WebMD, stress can lead to problems such as headaches, high blood pressure, heart problems, skin conditions, and even depression. Try mediation, taking deep breaths, or even give your self a massage. You can always have family discussions at the dinner table to help get things off your chest.

    Your family members hold the key to your heart. Keep those hearts healthy by trying out these tips today!


  10. Fun in February: Upcoming Community Events

    It’s hard to believe February is in full swing!

    Being a Floridian has its many perks, including warm weather in February.  With no such thing as the Winter Blues, why not get out and experience some of the things the Gulf Coast has to offer?

    We’ve put together a list of some events we found taking place in February. For a complete list or additional information, check out the escape to Sarasota website.

    Circus Sarasota- The annual Circus Sarasota will be ongoing in the month of February and will take place under the Big Top at Tuttle Ave and 12th Street. Last year, Sarasota’s own, comic daredevil Bello Nock, made an appearance. Here’s more information.

    Florida State Fair- Step right up! The Florida State Fair has food and fun for all ages. This event takes place on Feb 7th at the fairgrounds in Tampa. Find more information here.

    Greek Festival- It’s all Greek to me.  Feb 14-17 check out the Greek Festival at the St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church. Admission is $4 and traditional food and festivities, including Greek music and dancing will keep you entertained. Find more information here.

    Exotic Car Fest- For the car enthusiast out there, check out the Sarasota Exotic Car Fest Feb 23. Ferraris, Rolls-Royce, Lamborghini’s and more will be on display for your enjoyment.

    Living in a Neal Community puts you in a prime location to live and enjoy all of the wonderful things the Gulf Coast has to offer.

    Which event are you looking forward to in February?