Photo of a multi-generation family having dinner outdoors in their back yard
Gone are the days of dropping off a casserole to get a good peek at your new neighbors. Nothing brings strangers together like a nosh sesh—and I’ve got plenty of culinary tricks up my sleeve to charm your surrounding community. If you’ve just landed in a fresh neighborhood, throwing a laidback shindig featuring funky cocktails and munchable goodies is your ticket to mingle-town. Thanks to the majority of these drinks and dishes involving make-ahead components, you’ll be able to chat and chomp instead of being bound to the kitchen.
If you’re planning on more of a sit-down gathering, I’d suggest offering one of the cocktails below when your guests arrive, pairing each course with wine, and throwing in an easy dessert. For a more casual crowd, I’d tack on a charcuterie board, keep the full boozy lineup, and skip the pasta so the spread is made for picking.
Let’s take a walk through the menu.
Nothing says summer lovin’ like a cocktail in a coconut. All recipes are tailed to about a dozen, but if your headcount happens to grow—feel free to skip the tropical vehicle and go for highball glasses instead. The St-Germain gives the exotic libation a bright, fragrant hint of elderflower.
Though brown coconuts, pictured here, are pretty—opt for young coconuts instead. They’re easier to open, boast more water than brown ones, and are a deeper vessel (more alcohol—yay!). If brown coconuts are all you can find, use high-quality canned or bottled coconut water to make up for the difference in liquid. Never broken into a young coconut before? Take the heel of a large knife and, carefully, strike down several times on the top—making a circle that cracks through the shell. Wedge your knife into one of the deep slices, twist the blade, and peel back your newly-made coconut lid.
To keep the beach theme going strong, pair these with the poke below.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 fresh young coconut
Several fresh torn mint leaves, plus more whole leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1 1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. St-Germain
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons pineapple juice
Lime slices and cocktail umbrellas for garnish
Cut an opening into the top of the young coconut (as described above) and reserve the coconut water—straining if necessary, to get out any solid bits.
In a cocktail shaker, combine the torn mint leaves, coconut water (about 1/4 cup per cocktail), agave, gin, St-Germain, lime juice, and pineapple juice with a handful of ice. Cover and shake vigorously until chilled and lightly frothy. Add crushed ice to the inside of the empty coconut and strain the contents of the shaker over top. Garnish with lime slices, a generous sprig of mint, and cocktail umbrellas.
Dirty Chai White Russian
Instead of switching on the coffee when the yawn monster surfaces, try whipping up this spiked, homemade dirty chai (technically made “filthy” by the addition of booze). Brew the sweetened tea and toss together the spice mix the day before, so when it’s game time—all you’ve got to do is shake, froth, and garnish
In a small saucepot over medium-low heat, simmer the Chai tea leaves, honey, and vanilla with 2 tablespoons water. Steep for 10-15 minutes and then strain the mixture through a fine meshed sieve.
In a cocktail shaker, mix the Chai-spiced simple syrup, vodka, Kahula, and espresso with ice and shake vigorously. Fill a glass with ice and strain in the cocktail. Top with the frothed milk and garnish with the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and Quick Chai Spice Mix.
Punch is a party-thrower’s best friend. While rattling around a cocktail shaker is an excellent form of entertainment, a vat of alcohol and a ladle provides just as much pleasure to the partygoers (and gives the host a brea
Instead of just emptying rum into a deep bowl—here’s the secret for taking this concoction to the next level. When guests ask why your punch has such a punch—get ready for the conversation-starter-of-the-evening when you answer with the words: oleo-saccharum. A complicated name for a wildly simple concept—oleo-saccharum is nothing but a homemade sweetener made from citrus peels and sugar. As the two dry ingredients interact in a plastic bag, the sugar extracts the citrus skin’s essential oils. The result? A super concentrated citrus simple syrup (blood orange, in this case) with extraordinary depth of flavor. The jasmine tea (prepared in advance along with the syrup) adds floral notes to the fruity rum bomb.
Serves 10 – 12
Blood orange oleo-saccharum (citrus oil simple syrup—see below)
1/2-liter silver rum (about 2 cups)
1/2-liter dark rum (about 2 cups)
3 cups jasmine green tea, chilled
1 1/2 cups fresh blood orange juice (about 4 oranges)
1 cup fresh lime juice
Blood orange and lime wheels for garnish
Using a vegetable peeler or a pairing knife, peel the skin from two blood oranges (avoiding the white bitter pith as much as possible). Place the peels in a large plastic bag with about 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Rub it together with your hands so that the peels are coasted in sugar, and then allow this to sit for several hours. Add warm water to the bag until the sugar begins to dissolve. Snip a hole in the corner of the bag and strain the syrup into a bowl. Keep some of the peels for garnish.
In a large punchbowl, mix together a few tablespoons of the oleo-saccharum with both rums, jasmine tea, blood orange juice, and lime juice. Taste for sweetness, and add additional oleo-saccharum if necessary. Chill before serving, and then add the blood orange and lime slices. To serve, pour over ice-filled glasses—garnishing with the citrus wheels and peels.
Ahi Poke Lettuce Wraps with Peanut-Ginger Sauce
As I mentioned earlier, skip the tuna casserole.
Instead, platter up these ahi poke wraps for an interactive Hawaii-ish small plate that your new friends will be raving about for weeks. The marinated tuna—laced with salty soy, nutty sesame oil, and garlicky spring onions—gets loaded into tender lettuce cups and topped with fresh herbs and a zig-zag of creamy coconut-peanut sauce. Though ahi can be pricey, the cucumbers and avocadoes bulk up the poke, so you’re not buying entrée-size portions. For an additional zip, quick-pickle some julienned veggies like carrots and daikon radishes
Serves 10-12 as an appetizer
1 1/2 pounds sushi-grade ahi or yellowfin tuna, diced into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons Sriracha (or chili paste)
Juice of 2 limes (plus lime wedges for serving)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 avocados, diced
1 seedless cucumber, diced
Small bunch scallions or spring onions, light and green parts only finely sliced
2 – 3 heads butter or Bibb lettuce, rinsed and leaves separated
Small bunch fresh mint leaves, gently torn (for garnish)
Sesame seeds (for garnish)
Pickled Veggies (optional garnish)
Peanut-Ginger Sauce (recipe follows)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, Sriracha, lime juice, and brown sugar. Add the tuna to the marinade along with the cucumber, avocado and scallions and gently toss. Allow mixture to marinate for 15 minutes.
Fill each lettuce cup with a small mound of the tuna mixture, and then garnish with the mint leaves and sesame seeds. Serve with the peanut-ginger sauce and pickled veggies.
Coconut Peanut-Ginger Sauce
Makes approximately 2 1/2 cups
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, thinned with a few tablespoons warm water
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons honey 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger 1 medium clove garlic, grated
In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, coconut milk, rice vinegar, soy sauce, honey, ginger, and garlic until smooth and season to taste with salt.
Lemony Roasted Garlic Kale Caesar with Sesame Croutons
Bright acidic lemon, mellow roasted garlic, and tangy Worcestershire fuse to create a dressing that your guests will want to eat with a spoon. Countering the cocktails with a bowl of greens is always a good idea, and kale’s sturdy texture is fantastic for sopping up every last drop. The unexpected crunch of homemade sesame croutons adds some substance to this salad
Serves 10-12 as a side
4 cups torn crusty Italian bread (crouton size)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon coarse black pepper
12 cups thinly sliced lacinato kale leaves, ribs removed (about 2 bunches)
Lemony Roasted Garlic Dressing (recipe follows)
1/2 cup shaved parmesan cheese
Cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Spread the torn bread on a baking sheet. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, melted butter, sesame seeds, salt, and pepper and pour over the bread, tossing with your hands to combine. Bake until the croutons are golden and toasted, 12 to 14 minutes. Reserve the sesame seeds remaining on the bottom of the baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix the kale and croutons with several tablespoons of the dressing at a time, tossing to combine, until the salad is coated to your liking. Garnish with the shaved parmesan, cracked black pepper, and reserved sesame seeds.
Lemony Roasted Garlic Caesar Dressing
Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups
1 head roasted garlic (see instructions below) 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
Juice of 2 lemons
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for the roasted garlic)
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
For the roasted garlic:
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slice off the very top of the garlic head so that the cloves are exposed. Drizzle the cloves with oil and sprinkle with salt. Wrap the entire head in foil and bake until golden and tender, 50 to 55 minutes. Allow the garlic head to cool and then pop out the cloves by gently squeezing them out of their shells.
Using the flat side of your knife, mash the roasted garlic until it becomes a paste.
In a deep bowl, combine the roasted garlic paste, mustard, Worcestershire, parmesan, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil and, using a whisk or a blender, blend well until the dressing is emulsified and thick. Whisk in the yogurt and season to taste with additional salt and pepper.
Linguine with Clam Sauce
Pasta is a no-brainer for a bigger group, and this summery linguine requires nothing more than a handful of fresh ingredients and a good ear for when the clams pop open. With a savory broth of white wine, lemon juice, fresh clams, and garlic, this light, buttery dish will leave you with a round of applause—and everyone feeling like they just took a dip in the ocean.
Serves 10 – 12
2 pounds linguine 10 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
4 pounds fresh clams (such as Manila or littleneck), scrubbed
1 cup dry white wine Juice of 4 lemons
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 tablespoons grated Parmesan
Cook the pasta according to package directions, and reserve about 1/4 cup of the starchy cooking water before you drain it.
In a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat, add 6 tablespoons of the oil. Add the sliced garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until lightly golden, about 45 seconds. Add the clams, and stir until coated with the garlic oil, about 1 minute. Turn the heat to medium high, add the wine and lemon juice, and cover the pan. Simmer until the clams open, about 8-10 minutes, making sure to discard any that don’t open.
Remove the clams from the pan, and set them aside to cool slightly. Remove about 3/4 of the clams from their shells and set the meat aside. If your clams are big, rough chop the meat into smaller, bite-size pieces.
Reduce the cooking liquid by about half its volume, and then whisk in the butter. Add in the pasta, starchy cooking water, salt, pepper, shelled clams, parsley, and 8 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Toss to coat, and season to taste with additional salt if necessary.
Divide the pasta, clams, and sauce among bowls and top with even amounts of the remaining clams in their shells, olive oil, and Parmesan. Serve immediately.
Retirement planning is pretty variable, so don’t expect right answers, just right questions.
In 1951, Dr. Albert Einstein was working as a physics professor at Princeton University. One day, he and his teacher’s assistant were walking across campus when the assistant asked the question, “Dr. Einstein, how do you think our advanced physics students did on their final exam?” Dr. Einstein replied, “Not very well.” The assistant looked surprised and shocked as he responded, “But Dr. Einstein, why wouldn’t our students have done well when we gave them the same test as we gave them last year?” Dr. Einstein replied, “The questions were the same, but the answers are different this time.” While this scenario applies to many situations, it definitely applies to retirement planning.
In many ways, planning our retirement takes a similar path as Dr. Einstein’s advanced physics class. The questions are still the same, but the answers are different. Here are some of the more important questions:
Do I have enough to retire?
Will my money last as long as I live?
What kind of lifestyle can I afford?
How much risk should I take?
What to do?
Every individual should have a retirement plan regardless of his or her age. This means talking to an advisor about how much money is needed to retire using today’s assumptions regarding life span, health, income levels, inflation, and projected investment returns. As you near retirement, consider a few tactical steps to maximize your security and peace of mind.
Evaluate personal spending.
Instead of worrying about which stock to buy or sell daily, save more money and you’ll get accustomed to spending less now. The good news is that spending is typically highest in the early stages of retirement and declines as the years pass. Take an honest look at your pre-retirement lifestyle, expectations for future spending, and planned activities (such as hobbies and travel). Your conclusions in this thought process will shape your income requirements, and the level of risk in your portfolio.
Coordinate your planning.
Connect the dots between your financial plan and your estate and tax planning. Work with a trusted fiduciary advisor who puts your interests first and can regularly meet face to face with you and your family. Empower your financial advisor to work directly with your estate lawyer and CPA to be sure you get the best results. We do this for our clients and the results and follow through can make a big difference on tax day and when facing big life transitions.
Create a system and follow it.
Today, most individuals invest for growth. Balancing the risk/return and growth/income decision requires thoughtful portfolio design, periodic review, and rebalancing from year to year. And the personal discipline to stick with the plan! An individual is 20 times more likely to achieve desired results with a written plan. It should include details regarding risk, taxes, and portfolio design.
Manage your withdrawal rate.
Research shows that even in the most favorable market environments, taking more than 6% annually from a portfolio over a 30-year period can lead to premature depletion of assets. Determining a sustainable withdrawal rate is wise and allows retirees to maintain stable income throughout various market environments.
Plug the tax and expense drains.
The up and down movements in the stock market are out of your control, so try not to worry when they don’t move in your favor. Instead, plan for adverse markets and pay more attention to characteristics that are controllable. Evaluate the possible impact of taxes on your retirement income. How much should you withdraw from the portfolio to receive enough income after taxes? Should you first withdraw from taxable or tax deferred accounts, given your age, tax rate, asset composition, and other personal factors? What expenses are set in stone for you and which are optional?
Figure inflation into retirement spending projections and expected investment returns. Although inflation has averaged just over 3% on a long-term basis, many advisors say that a 4% assumption is more prudent. The difference between these two rates is substantial over a lengthy retirement. For instance, to maintain purchasing power throughout a 25-year retirement period, a $100,000 annual withdrawal must increase to more than $209,000, assuming 3% inflation, and $266,500 at 4% inflation. There is a big difference.
Make it count.
Many people spend more time planning their vacation or next automobile purchase than they spend thinking about retirement. Your golden years are one of the more important periods of your life – you will enjoy them better if you’re prepared. Take the time to investigate.
Keep it simple.
Invest in things you understand or that your professional advisor can explain in language that makes sense. Great results do not need to be complicated. The far more important concept is the eighth wonder of the world…time and compounding. If an investor will invest in the best businesses in the world, led by the smartest management, providing world-class goods and services to an increasing global consumer, the results tend to be good. And, in most cases, dividends that tend to increase each year helping income keep pace with inflation.
Great results are most often the product of great relationships. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out qualified experts who can keep you on course as the answers change. Less worry and peace of mind is the goal. We are here to help support your success!
About the authors: Vinton Fountain III, Buck Beam, Brice Gibson and Christopher Riley CFP are members of Fountain Financial Associates, a registered Investment Advisory Firm in Wilmington, NC. Their mission is to give clients and their families a better life. Learn more at www.fountainfinancial.net. Advisory Services offered through Fountain Financial Associates, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. Fountain Financial Associates, Inc., and Cetera are not affiliated.
When Mary Lou Shannon decided to move to the Traditions of America community of Saucon Valley near Bethlehem, PA, she had three things in mind: being closer to family, pursuing her passion for gardening, and finding a vibrant group of friends. “I was a real estate agent for 32 years in the Washington, D.C. area, and I decided that I wanted to live closer to my son and daughter-in-law in Bethlehem,” Mary Lou says. “I loved the concept of customizing my home and moving into a community when it was new. I knew from my real estate work that that first group of homeowners was pretty tight, and I wanted to be a part of that closeness wherever I ended up.”
Mary Lou’s search initially led her to Traditions of America at Bridle Path. The community was almost sold out, but construction on Saucon Valley was just beginning, and Mary Lou already knew she loved the area. “I’d driven through Saucon Valley when I was visiting my son. I loved the farmland and yet it was close to a great shopping center and the highway. I surprised my family, and came up for Mother’s Day weekend … I’ve never looked back.”
From the very beginning, Mary Lou knew that connecting with her new neighbors mattered to her—so she volunteered to host a friends-giving event for her first Thanksgiving in her new community. “I got to know a lot of people doing that. Our clubhouse was finished by then, and we had a lovely candlelight sit-down dinner for 70 people,” Mary Lou says. “Then I got on the social committee. I got to know people and know what was going on in the neighborhood. That was important to me and has a lot to do with my happiness here.”
Mary Lou began playing bridge and joined a book club. “You have to put yourself out there in a community to get the full benefit of it,” she says. Then, she started getting her hands dirty. “I have a lovely garden already. It’s my second summer gardening here, since I moved in two years ago … I have a variety of plants. The lettuces are in now … I’m planting things that are low-maintenance, hostas and native plants.”
Her life at Saucon Valley has been everything she hoped for, but Mary Lou wanted to expand her horizons beyond its boundaries as well. “I told myself when I retired that I wanted to do hospice volunteer work and take a master gardener program. I signed up for both of those before I even moved up here. They’re an important part of my life, because I’m meeting people outside of my area but I’m also giving something back to the community,” she says.
Mary Lou has always loved to garden, and the master gardener program has given her new insight into one of her favorite hobbies. “It surprised me how much I didn’t know. There’s an emphasis on native plants, protecting the environment, the connection in the natural environment of plants, insects, birds, and woodlands. I’m finding that fascinating.”
She was eager to share what she’d learned with her neighbors. “I wanted to encourage more people to garden with a perspective to the natural environment, so I arranged a lecture from a naturalist on attracting birds to our gardens, and then I asked for a shelf in our community library,” she says. “I’m trying to encourage people to use less pesticides and grow some native plants.”
As much as Mary Lou has given to her new home, she’s gotten a great deal from it as well. “Downsizing and establishing yourself in a new community are easier to do sooner rather than later,” she says. “What this community offered is way beyond my wildest expectations for friendships and support.”
“Downsizing and establishing yourself in a new community are easier to do sooner rather than later,” says Mary Lou Shannon.
Traditions of America
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To many it is a sanctuary, the most wonderfully versatile piece of recreational equipment ever conceived. A thing that allows you to close your eyes and connect to the ancient swells and rhythms of the sea. A thing that can silently transport you to secret coves and unimaginably beautiful places. A thing that allows you to work as hard as you’ve ever worked and race 32 miles out to Catalina Island in the sport’s iconic championship. Or express your inner “devotional warrior” on your floating yoga mat … your paddleboard. While every long pull on the paddle carries you farther and farther away from the stress of the day.
Jump on Board
Sound inviting? Then seek out a place near you to learn to paddleboard and you’ll begin to understand the enriching hold of the fastest growing water sport in the world and an elixir for those in their silver years…both from a fitness standpoint and an aesthetic one.
Tom Lawn got hooked on paddleboarding as a newcomer five years ago when he bravely decided to paddle out to a shrimp boat trawling just off the tip of the North Carolina coast where he was unexpectedly adopted by a pod of some 80 dolphins following the boat for free snacks. So close Tom could touch them, the pod let him paddle along for a mile or so. And then the board had him.
At 66, Tom is a fixture at St. James Plantation, a 6,000-acre planned community of beautiful coastal landscape in Southport, NC, where he is unmistakable driving the mint condition, aqua blue Dodge van he and his wife Sue bought new in 1977. His paddleboards ride on top of the van, surfboard inside, with the couple’s Llewellin Setter, Esker, calling shotgun.
According to Tom, “Paddleboarding is so many things. It can be spiritual while paddling alone through the pristine backwaters of the bay. Or just family time, with Esker perched on the nose of the board and Sue paddling beside in her kayak.”
Sometimes Jenna Chenevert and Susan Goodwin will just sit down on their paddleboards and eat the lunch they packed earlier back home. Neighbors at Eastman, a welcoming four-seasons community in New Hampshire, the two thrive on the fitness and aesthetic benefits of paddleboarding on the community’s miles-long lake, and all around New England.
Jenna shares that, “It’s amazing how much stand up paddling exercises your core and legs, plus it requires excellent posture. But for seniors, perhaps the biggest benefit is how it enhances your balance abilities.”
Susan particularly embraces the natural beauty that comes with the activity. “I love paddling through the early morning fog on our lake, or for 30-mile stretches on the Connecticut River, where the fall foliage reflected in the water is just stunningly beautiful.”
A Little History
Today’s paddleboarders carry on a legacy that some suggest dates back 3,000 years to Peruvian fisherman who paddled reed boats out past the surf break, then stood up and surfed the fully stocked boat back home. But the earliest actual evidence shows a Polynesian paddleboarder heading out to greet Captain James Cook off Hawaii’s Kona coast in a famous engraving dating back to 1779. It would be his ancestors who brought paddleboarding to light two centuries later on the north shore of Oahu.
You will want to do a lot of research before buying a paddleboard, but generally you’ll be looking at a board that’s 10-12’ long and costs between $500-1,500. A lighter graphite paddle will be worth the investment to your hands and arms on long rides. Make certain, also, that the weight of the board (generally 24-30 pounds) is manageable and that you’re able to lift the board, or comfortably load it on a car rack for transport. There are even inflatable paddle boards that are lighter and easier to manage.
So, if the idea of enhancing your physical and spiritual health, while meeting new friends sounds inviting, just look for the mint condition, aqua blue van and say hi to the explorative new world of paddleboarding!
This 3,600 acre lakeside community is tucked in the Upper Connecticut River Valley in the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region. Two hours north of Boston and minutes from Lake Sunapee, New London, Lebanon and Hanover, residents have easy access to medical facilities, employment, educational opportunities and a multitude of cultural venues.
“After all of those years of working, this is what life is all about. We feel like we are on vacation the whole time,” says Debbie.
Debbie and John Lane relocated to Brunswick Forest, just 10 minutes outside of historic Wilmington, NC, in September 2015. Set on 4,500 acres of heavily-wooded land only 30 minutes from area beaches, Brunswick Forest is one of the nation’s top master planned communities with abundant amenities including golf, kayaking, fitness center, and a town center with retail, dining, medical, and professional establishments.
In 2011, the Lanes embarked on a five-year plan to retire and relocate. They had lived in Herndon, VA, for 22 years, where John commuted to his job at the FDIC in downtown Washington, D.C. Tired of the traffic, they knew they wanted something different for retirement.
“We attended two trade shows [Ideal-LIVING Resort & Retirement Shows] held in Tyson’s Corner, VA, and met with the representatives from several East Coast communities from Georgia to Tennessee. We also talked to the various builders that were there, and it really got us thinking about retirement. The information was very helpful. Ideal-LIVING gave us the opportunity to narrow our choices. We had vacationed to Duck, NC, for 15 to 20 years, and knew we liked North Carolina area beaches. We knew we wanted to be off of the beach, but still beach accessible. Brunswick Forest checked off a lot of the things we wanted—golf and a riverwalk close by in downtown Wilmington with lots of restaurants. We moved into our new home built by Kent Homes in September 2015, a year ahead of schedule!!” said John.
“We really like the 100 or so miles of hiking and biking trails at Brunswick Forest. We love to ride our bikes around the neighborhoods and still love to tour through model homes in the community. Sundays are our day to tour through model homes and we even met friends from Chicago doing the same thing. Now we go to dinner with them and play golf with them.”
The Lanes take advantage of Brunswick Forest’s Cape Fear National Golf Course. John has been on the board of the men’s golf association and plays two to three times a week and Debbie also plays a couple of times a week. Debbie said, “Little did we know we were going to need a budget for golf.”
Extremely active in their retirement, they also love to kayak and now own two kayaks. They play cards a lot, are involved in a wine tasting club, frequent area beaches, and enjoy attending cultural events in Wilmington. The Lanes are also avid travelers. Along with friends they have made at Brunswick Forest, they have taken a river tour from Switzerland to Amsterdam, a cruise from Rome to Barcelona, just returned from Banff, Canada, and will be going on a cruise from New Zealand to Australia this year. John even went to Scotland with three golf buddies for a golf trip.
“We never thought retirement could be so busy. The people all came here for the same reasons. We tell people it’s not a question of being busy, it’s more difficult just to learn when to say NO. We sometimes need just a day to relax.”
Brunswick Forest, the Coastal South's fastest growing community, is located on North Carolina's Cape Fear coast, just minutes from historic Wilmington. This 4,500-acre retreat features a wide array of neighborhoods and lifestyles, 18 holes of golf at Cape Fear National, a Clubhouse, River Club, Fitness & Wellness Center, parks and more than 100 miles of walking, biking and nature trails linking residences and amenities.
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On their way into Fawn Lake, a gated lakeside community in Spotsylvania, VA, discerning visitors might notice some interesting indentations along the side of the road, accompanied by a sign: “Protected Area.” Residents have ample opportunities to stay active at Fawn Lake through access to fantastic amenities. Hiking trails, a beautiful lakeside beach, and a deep water marina are among them. But, every day, they also drive by a well-preserved piece of the past: The Civil War Wilderness Battlefield. Those indentations on the side of the road? They’re earthwork trench lines.
Given Marsha and Bob Stumpf’s history as a military family, perhaps it’s fitting that for the past 20 years, they’ve called the community of Fawn Lake home.“My career took two simultaneous paths for the most part. I served 10 years on active duty with the United States Air Force, and then 25 years in the Air Force Reserve,” Bob says. “While serving in the Reserves, I worked for MCI Telecommunications for 18 years. Marsha spent her time raising our three children, but did work as a legal secretary after college, and as an office manager in a physical therapy office when the kids were in college.”
The Stumpfs were living in Northern Virginia in a community that they liked—but it didn’t have the resort-style amenities that interested them. “An advertisement in the Washington Post led us one Saturday in early 1991 to Fawn Lake where Coach Joe Gibbs had an interest in the development company in which he planned to build a home. In the absence of a salesperson, we spoke with the secretary who provided us a map with numbers for lots on the golf course and lake. There were no homes, just lots,” Bob says of that initial visit to Fawn Lake. “After a brief tour, we returned to the sales trailer and stated that we wanted to purchase the lot on the lake in which we live today. Incidentally, it is the lot next to the lot in which Coach Gibbs built the home in which he lived for a very brief period of time. This is our 20th year at Fawn Lake and we have loved every minute.”
Not only have the Stumpfs loved every minute, they’ve made the most of their time there. Both Marsha and Bob are physically active, and take advantage of Fawn Lake’s extensive athletic activities. “We have been and continue to be involved with sports normally played with a ball.This includes tennis, golf, and pickleball on a regular basis,” Bob says. “Fawn Lake is fortunate enough to have a world-class Arnold Palmer golf course, four Har-Tru tennis courts and six pickle ball courts. We rotate between sports, but normally play something each day. Marsha’s activities also include Mahjong, exercise classes, walking group, and working in the yard.”
Bob also plays on Fawn Lake’s Senior League golf team, which competes with other golf clubs in the mid-Virginia area, and serves on the Board of Directors of Fawn Lake Country Club. “We are members of a local church and support its activities,” he says.
With all that the Stumpfs have on their plate, it’s hard to imagine them taking on anything else, but in their full and fulfilling life at Fawn Lake, there’s always room for a little more. “This will be the 10th year for the Fawn Lake Triathlon for which I have been the race director for the last five years,” Bob says. “It takes the whole community to host the event and over 100 athletes participate each year.”
Spanning over 2,350 acres of gently rolling countryside just nine miles west of the historic city of Fredericksburg VA, Fawn Lake offers the unique opportunity to live in the relaxed resort atmosphere of a gated community and carefully preserved trees with a 288-acre deepwater lake with over seven miles of shoreline plus and an Arnold Palmer...
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