Residential Real Estate News, Reviews, Things To Do, Events, Neighborhood Information and Market Updates by Wes and Nicole Benwick

Aug. 11, 2017

Tequilas-Mexican Delicioso

Tequilas--amazing doesn't describe it..

Tequilas may seem like any other Mexican restaurant in Jacksonville, but when I tell you Wes and I have tried a LOT of other Mexican places ...well, it's no joke.  

I always say "I could eat Mexican food every day." That is true and we can prove that by telling you not only do they all know us in Tequilas but they also know we don't ever need menus again.  We have also tried pretty much every other Mexican restaurant in Jacksonville and no disrespect to any of them but Tequilas is ALWAYS satisfying.

Some people who love Mexican food look for the best salsa, best queso, etc. Those are givens to us as well, and food is truly in the "mouth" of the beholder, but what we really love about Tequilas is more than the food; it's also the service.

Bar none, and not even counting just Mexican restaurants but ALL restaurants, the employees always have a smile on their face and excellent service.  You get sat down and right away get chips and salsa.  All of the staff are wonderful, and they are knowledgeable and friendly.

We have ordered many (that sounds awful but I am including our kids too!) of the items on the menu and never have been disappointed. From the burritos to the chimichangas to shrimp chiveche, all of their food is a big hit.

We always laugh (and appreciate!) that more often than not we can be in and out in less than 30 minutes.  They are just that quick with service and in the kitchen.  Honestly it's why we keep going back over and over..because it is consistently delicious and fast.

Tequilas is located in the Point Meadows Plaza on the end. Winn Dixie and Steinmart are also in this plaza. 

If you love Mexican food, you have GOT to try Tequilas. Here are their weekly specials.

 

 

Posted in Places To Eat
Aug. 2, 2017

Kitchen on San Marco

Great Place to Eat!

 When Wes and I are out and about we always like to try new places to eat. We visited the Kitchen on San Marco which is located at 1402 San Marco Blvd. in the historic district close to businesses and the Baptist Hospital.

Walking in you see a great wrap around bar with plenty of seating with booths and tables. The menu is small but wow, this isn't your normal place. 

What makes this restaurant different is that they use locally grown food in their cuisine. This restaurant is farm to table. They use locally grown fresh food which is why the menu changes. I ordered the beet salad and it was great. You could easily see the care they put into every part of each dish.

Wes got the grit fries. A little hesitant at first, but when it got to our table we were inhaling them! They look like large mozzarella sticks in a rectangular shape but they are grits mixed with cheese....amazing.  I mean LOOK at these!!

Although we did not drink here, Kitchen on San Marco is a gastropub (this means a place that serves high quality food) and can boast an extensive drink menu.  They have craft beers, a great selection of cocktails and wine. 

What also makes this place unique is that it supports the Culinard. They have professional chefs who teach students on site from the Culinard school. 

We not only enjoyed great food but great service. We were sat at a booth in the bar area and sometimes you can be neglected if you aren't sitting at the bar and the bartender is your server. Not here-the bartender was very knowledgeable and willing to explain any item we asked about and was on top of the service with help from what looked to be a manager and hostess as well. 

Wes got the hanger steak with risotto and I got a burger. You can definitely taste the freshness in the food and we are definitely going back to enjoy more of their tasty cuisine.

If you have been here share with us what you got to eat and drink!  We would love to hear from you! To see what is for sale in the San Marco area click here.

Posted in Places To Eat
July 21, 2017

Fall Decorating Tips For Your Home

It's time to get your home ready for fall!!    

  I love fall so much!! Here in Florida we are beginning our reprieve from the daily 90 degree days, kids are iback to school again, and football!!  

I wish I could say I was a "seasonal decorator" and change the decor in my home every quarter but....I don't. I have a true love/hate relationship with Pinterest as well, loving all of the wonderful pins on how I could decorate my home and hating them because I know I won't execute a single one.  My bucket list consists of having Chip and Joanna Gaines from the HGTV show "Fixer Upper" in my home and have at it. Although they would probably have to do a complete tear down and start over....(I am ok with this...).

So I wanted to get inspired and so here are a few easy (!) ways to welcome autumn to your home. Aren't we all looking for easy?

For some the first thing they think about when they think of fall decorating is buying those pumpkins and bringing them inside for a great color pop. Look for some white pumpkins as well as they are also gorgeous and can used in so many ways from using it as a centerpiece with some leaves or raffia.  

Inside....

The typical fall colors are oranges, reds, yellows, greens, and tones of brown. Why not change out your sofa pillows to bring in some fall colors? That is such a great way to bring in color and easy to switch back and forth. If not the pillows, purchase a few new autumn inspired blankets to drape over your sofa or chairs. I also love getting new candles, in fall colors, that...yes, smell like fall. 

Staying in the fall theme, look into some wire baskets to put logs in or even rustic items placed throughout your home. Think bring the outdoors in. Look for items you can place on your table or mantle that encompass nature, such as placing a pretty bouquet of sunflowers or other fall-colored flowers right on your dining table.

Outside.... 

The front door (and porch if you have one), is the best way to show you love the season of fall. Shop for outdoor tones in a colorful wreath whether it's made from twigs, leaves, raffia, rope, gourds, etc.   On the porch you can place some wood planters, maybe dried cranberries arranged in the plants, or  even rocking chairs adorned with a fall plaid blanket. If you have the space for an outdoor rug that would be beautiful as well. Don't forget to get those pumpkins, corn husks, and even hay! All in all autumn is about enjoying the wonderful outdoor colors and bringing them in to your home. If you have any wonderful ideas or photos please use the comment field below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2017

Back to School Tips!

Back to School Time-Let's Get Organized!

 

Just like that...summer is ending and it's time to head back into schedules, running around, and homework! It is always difficult to go from sleeping in, playing outside, and the biggest decision of the summer days was when to go to the pool to waking up early and having a routine.

For most of us after a few weeks we are all back into some sort of normalcy of school, clubs, sports, etc., but here is some advice to really get your child's school year off to a great start.

The best advice is not to wait to get back into a routine the night before school starts! When my children were younger, I would start at least two weeks out, making sure they went to bed a little earlier each night and waking them up a little bit earlier each morning as well so it wasn't so dreadful those first weeks back to school.  For example, if the children were staying up until 10 or 10:30p and waking up at 9:30 or 10:00am, I would have them in bed five to ten minutes earlier each night to get back to the best time for them to go to sleep and wake up to be at their best for school. 

Another thing you can do is to get them back on a meal routine that is as close to what will be their schedule once school starts.  I remember the days of my children coming home those first days saying "Oh my gosh I was so hungry!" but they had been used to a totally different routine and they felt more tired and sluggish as a result.

For the parents try and get a hold of the school supply list(s) as soon as you can. There is no fun like gathering the kids and going to one store to get school supplies and finding out they are sold out of some items and you are now stuck having to run to other stores and that quick trip becomes an all day nightmare.  Thankfully some schools offer a pre-order and you just pay and it's on their new desk the first day...(boy, I wish all schools did this!).

There are other ways to get ready such as (and this is a little late now but..) having them READ! You don't want your child's hard work over the previous school year to go to waste because they didn't pick up a book. Statistics show a child loses two to three MONTHS of math and reading skills if they do nothing over the summer! That is a terrible waste of the hard work from the previous year!  Our public libraries are a great free (!) source as well as the internet to keep their minds sharp. My point is you don't have to spend any money to keep your child from continuing to learn and stay on track.

Talk to your kids about any upcoming worries or fears. Every year at every age there are some things that will worry your children.  Just be there for them and stay positive with what they tell you. Children just want to know they are safe and cared for, and a new school year brings on a lot of changes so it's natural to have some concerns. 

 If your child rides the school bus, be sure to read this blog about bus safety as well. 

 All in all, preparing your child mentally and physically to face another school year is key to ensuring they start off on the right foot and you can rest easier as well!

 

 

June 30, 2017

How Much Should I Water in the Summer?

We've all seen the news when tell us if there are restrictions on watering our lawns, but when should we be watering in the summer on a regular basis?

 

 

When?

  What time of the day is best to water? Did you know if you water during the hot day time you are wasting about 60% of your water?? That water is just evaporating and is wasteful. Set your sprinkler system for the early morning/cooler hours. So would it make sense to water at night? Don't do it.  The reason is if you water at night the grass does not have a chance to dry and can grow bacteria and fungus. Point is your lawn needs a chance to dry so watering in the morning will allow it the best chance to dry and take in water best.

How Long (& How Much) Should I Water My Lawn?

I bet you already have a guess in mind...is it one hour? Two? Until you see it looks good and saturated? You can find so many schools of thought when it comes to how long and how much. Some say bar none do it 2-3 times a week. But what if it's been raining where you live?

What you need to know is this; it depends on how much water your sprinklers are putting out and the weather. Experts say a 1/2 to 3/4 inch of water is suffice to get your lawn up to par, however, if you are receiving normal rain it makes a difference as well.  If your summer is receiving typical rainfall amounts for your area you should not need to water. But if you see your grass looking "stressed", go ahead and give it a drink. Stressed?  What does that look like? Well, if your grass is bent, or doesn't have that green color, or if you have walked on your grass and after awhile you can still see your path? Water it! Just don't over water or you will saturate the soil, promote weed growth, and can result in a shorter root system...just to name a few.

How LONG Should the Grass Be?

I lovvvvve a fresh cut lawn....the smell of it, the way it looks so fresh and how it makes our home and yard look. I like the grass shorter than Wes does, so who is right for the correct length of the grass? Apparently, the taller the better...(grr).  The reason according to the University of Florida is the longer the length of the grass the more extensive the root system is. Grass with deeper roots can withstand more trauma to it, such as droughts. If your grass is shorter, more time will be spent energy wise making new blades of grass versus using that energy towards building a strong root system. Very generally speaking, the grass is ideal at 2 1/2 inches. Of course there are variables to this such as what type of grass you have and what season we are in at the time.

 All in all, your grass will do its best if you can keep an eye on it.  There are so many factors that go into your personal lawn one simply cannot have steadfast rules.  

We welcome your comments and suggestions!

 

 

June 23, 2017

Air Conditioner Tips!

Here's some information on how to keep your AC running at its best!  

Making it through the summer without a working air conditioning system isn't feasible in some parts of the country. Even if you live in a temperate climate, your AC system will make you and your family much more comfortable at home. So before the weather really gets hot, take the time to clean and prepare your air conditioner. Use these 5 tips for getting your air conditioner ready for its busy season.

1. Perform a Visual Inspection

As a homeowner, you won't know everything there is to know about your air conditioning system. That doesn't mean you can't spot something that's obviously wrong or out of place.

Before summer begins, take the time to visually inspect your outdoor air conditioning unit. Look for signs of physical damage to the unit that may have occurred during the winter months like missing or poorly aligned panels. If the panel that covers the electrical system is out of place this is a fix that you should leave to the pros for safety reasons.

You should also take the time to check that your refrigerant lines have proper insulation that hasn't been damaged over the winter.

2. Check Your Electrical

Before you turn your air conditioner on you should inspect any power and electrical cords around your outdoor unit. If these are frayed or damaged, getting a service professional to make the necessary repairs is essential.

You'll also want to check your circuit breaker to make sure the proper electrical connections are powered on. Breakers may have flipped during the winter without you knowing it.

3. Clear Debris

It's common to find debris covering your outdoor air conditioning unit's housing and around the condenser coil that makes the unit work. Using a cover for your air conditioner in the fall and winter can help with this in the future, but if debris is a concern now, it should be cleared before you turn the unit on.

Removing debris is a simple job - just avoid damaging your unit with gardening tools like rakes and shovels. Heavy gloves are your best bet for clearing debris around your condenser coil.

4. Change Your Air Filter

Changing the air filter that makes sure you get clean air inside your home might seem obvious, but many people forget to do it around this time of year. Even if your air filter hasn't been in use for the allotted time recommended by the manufacturer, a change is a smart idea between seasons.

If there are any issues with your air conditioning unit that you're not aware of a dirty air filter will only exacerbate the problem.

5. Call the Professionals

Taking the time to clean and prepare your air conditioner on your own is a wise move, but not every problem is one that can be spotted by the average homeowner. Even if you're diligent in your efforts, you're not a professional who deals with air conditioner systems every single day.

When the seasons change, getting a quick inspection from a professional service provider you trust is a wise choice. They can provide a deeper inspection and let you know if there are any concerns with your air conditioning unit. Your air conditioner might also get a clean bill of health, giving you a little peace of mind for the summer season.

Following these tips to get your air conditioner ready for use. Basic maintenance tasks shouldn't take you more than a few hours and performing them could save you hundreds in repairs.
written by Realty Times Staff

June 19, 2017

Kids Bored This Summer?

Summer for parents and children can be great when it first starts and then it can wear everyone down when the kids get bored and the parents run out of ideas.

No worries! Here are some ideas for you to check out to keep the summer fun going till they go back in August!

There are SO many things for children to do this summer. From camps to physical activities indoors and out, Jacksonville offers endless opportunities for your child to stay busy this summer.  

For as large of a city as Jacksonville is, you don't need to go far to find something to keep your children busy!

 The Jacksonville Zoo offers camps as well as one day activities your children will love. Check out their "Night at the Zoo" taking place on four dates this summer. You can enjoy live music, food trucks, and seeing the animals at night!

 Another hot spot in Jax for kids is Adventure Landing. There are various passes you can buy along with add-ons for say meals or tokens for games. In case you were unaware of all of the things to do here, there is laser tag, miniature golf, a water park, and even a roller coaster! It is a full day of fun at Adventure Landing. 

If your kids have more energy than you care to deal with I suggest one of these places for full on movement. Jumpstreet offers different pricing based on the child's age. This location offers all the typical jumping trampoline courts and dodge ball courts. It is located on Beach Blvd. Pump It Up is also on Beach Blvd. and offers slides, air hockey, and mostly bounce houses.

 Velocity is another jump place that on the southside of Jacksonville.  This place also has a trampoline park and an arcade. They also have foam pits and slam basketball as well.  Rebounderz has the same activities as well and is located off of Old St. Augustine Road.   

Once they are all tired, why not head to a movie?  I know, they can be SO expensive, but there are $1 movies here in Jacksonville!!  The Regal Cinemas will show Tuesdays and Wednesdays so definitely check it out! Buy a large REFILLABLE popcorn and you will save some money when all the little ones are wanting some buttery fingers to enjoy the cinema! 

 MOSH stands for Museum of Science and History. Here your child will exercise their brain! There is a great Dinosaurs in Motion and other Discovery Camps designed to entertain and educate. 

If your child needs some quiet time (yes, this is the teacher part of me) I'll always suggest hitting your local public library.  Not only can you check out FIFTY books at one time, there are plenty of programs to take part in. 

Do your children like rock climbing? Ok, so it's indoors but the Edge Rock Gym offers classes to teach people how to rock climb for all ages. They also offer yoga and Pilates classes.

If your child is too young for those of those places, try Bay & Bee. There is a location on Atlantic Blvd. and one near  Bartram. This company bases its philosophy of "free play". This place takes more of the Montessori approach of allowing children to play on their own and explore. Creative dance, learning Spanish, and even learning sign language are just a few of the classes you can sign up for here at Bay & Bee.

How about the good 'ol YMCA?  They have multiple locations around Jacksonville and offer an array of activities and camps for your child.  

Maybe you want to spend the day with your kids and miss the days of roller skating. Try Skate Station at their two locations in Mandarin and Orange Park. Now there is much more to do than just skate!  They offer a playground, rock climbing, and an arcade. Click here for the Skate Station in Mandarin. Click here for the location in Orange Park.

In Jacksonville there are so many camps as well. Sure a lot of the local schools offer camps, but check out this unique one at the Happy Acres Ranch. It is known for being a camp for children of all ages and they will swim, learn about nature, canoe, kayak, arts & crafts, fishing, archery, and more! 

Frankly, after writing this blog post, I also want to remind parents that bored children is not a bad thing. Let them be bored and have to use their imaginations to inspire creativity and fun. Kids do not need to be entertained 24/7!

Enjoy your summer everyone! 

 

 

May 28, 2017

IKEA Comes to Jacksonville!!

IKEA IS ALMOST HERE!!

Yes, I felt the heading needed to be large and in caps because IKEA is just that-large with an incredible presence that we are about to experience here in Jax.

What is IKEA?

IKEA is a furniture retailer based in the Netherlands. The store is best known for its ready-to-assemble furniture and home accessories, but has since expanded its base to just about anything you need in the home, outside the home, and more. It is the world's largest furniture retailer. 

What does IKEA stand for?  

 IKEA stands for its founder's initials Ingvar Kamprad along with the farm he grew up in, Elmtayard and the city the farm was in, Agunnaryd.  

IKEA is of course world-wide and before the one here in Jax is finished, fans of IKEA had to travel to Orlando. There are also locations in Tampa, Miami, and Sunrise.  Jacksonville is slated to open this fall. 

 Interesting Facts About IKEA...

You can eat in IKEA. Yep, when you are tired of walking around shopping, grab a seat and have a bite. Winning I say!

Why is it "ready-to-assemble"? The story isn't a shocking one. An IKEA worker bought a table and couldn't fit it into his car...so the idea of "flat pack" was born.  

 There are almost 400 stores in 48 countries. 

HEY PARENTS!! Most stores offer day care so you easily drop your kids off and shop in peace! They have playgrounds and you will be given a beeper (of sorts) in case you are needed etc. 

The names of the furniture pieces DO have actual meaning.  I mean cmon..what is a "vejmon" or "nyboda"???  Well, it turns out the founder Kamprad is dyslexic so reading numerous bar codes was a problem.  Therefore, he developed a system whereby each item has a different name origin. For example, carpets are named after places in Denmark, while sofas, coffee tables, and other items are named after places in Sweden.

There is a great IKEA Family Program you may want to check out. This is a loyalty program that offers discounts to its members. When you go to the store you will receive a free coffee or hot tea anytime. Also, it's FREE to join!

Good to Know:

IKEA in Jacksonville will be located off of 295 and Gate Parkway..you can't miss the ginormous royal blue building trust me. 

Anyone worried about traffic?? This is a concern since we are already congested in that area of Jacksonville. When other stores have opened IKEA has been known to take in TEN THOUSAND PLUS customers in its first few weeks. When other stores in the US have opened there have been exit closings, police help, and a lot of patience was needed. Come fall here in Jax, the key will be patience and respect to fellow drivers in that area so we stay safe. 

Want a print or digital catalog to start shopping? IKEA CATALOG

 If you live in the area IKEA is being built, and you don't want to deal with what it will bring traffic wise, or you love IKEA and want to live on the Southside, give us a call. That area of our city has a HOT market going now for buyers and sellers!

If YOU have an IKEA near you, give us your thoughts on the store or anything regarding your IKEA!

 

May 22, 2017

Online Grocery Shopping

Is it Worth it to Your Wallet to Order Your Groceries Online?

Ok I DESPISE opening the refrigerator and it's empty and I also dread when the kids say "Do we have______?"  (when they never asked for that item in the first place!). I am not a fan of the grocery store.  I am not a fan of anything about food unless I hear "We are going to ________ to eat."  So when I heard about being able to order groceries from my home, and not only does someone ELSE shop for what I need but also brings them to my DOOR???  HEAVEN! Who wouldn't love this????

 

What's This All About? 

So there are lots of companies that delivery groceries like Walmart, in some areas Amazon, and there are also ones in regional areas.  In Jacksonville, two of the bigger companies who are out there advertising online grocery shopping are Instacart and Shipt.

We tried Instacart. Wes chose this one because they offered not only a free trial but we can use the one app and order from SIX stores! The grocery store is Publix, but we can also order from CVS, Whole Foods Market, Petco, Costco (I don't know a soul who loves going to Costco!!), and.....(drum roll) ABC Fine Wine and Spirits. Shipt offers ABC Fine Wines, Costco, and Publix.

 Wes took his phone and started ordering away!  He loved the whole process and I will say it looked pretty simple. Once we made a cart of groceries, we were told our shopper was busy shopping for us, and one feature I really like? If something was out of stock, the shopper will text or call you to let you know of a similar item available or maybe a different size or brand is available.  You are given a window of time your groceries will be delivered and within one hour? Our groceries were at our door and all I had to do was put them AWAY!!  Yay us!!

So it's all great right? Soon stores will be empty and those of us who detest going to the grocery will lead a happy fulfilling life...but wait.  SOMEone has to make money off of this.  It's too good to be true.  Do they jack up the prices on the items, charge hidden fees, delivery fees...? 

What's the Catch??

Depending on the company you choose there is an annual fee which is around $100/year. Also, some companies will charge a delivery fee. Instacart for Publix says if you spend $35 your delivery is free, BUT, if you are ordering during a "busy time" or you have ordered a lot of items, there may be a delivery fee stacked on. Also they require you spending at least $10. Shipt does not change their delivery fees no matter the time. Shipt also has a $35 minimum for free delivery, and charges about $7 for ordering less. Shipt claims you will pay about $5 more than you would if you went to the store yourself. The fees for the different participating stores can vary from region to company to store so be sure you check it out.

Now, for some of the the heavier items (especially with stores like Costco) you will pay a little more due to the weight of the items you select.

Some of the possible cons would be that you won't be picking up those "extra" items that you would by shopping in the store; you know those items you say "Oh I forgot I need that." stuff.  Some people also won't like that for food like fruit, meat, vegetables, etc., you don't get to pick it out and relying on someone you don't know (or may not care like you do) to carefully inspect what you prefer. Others have said the more online shopping options there are will lead to more people staying in and not going out to be social.  I don't know about you, but I don't consider the grocery store a social experience.  Plus, I would rather spend that "grocery time" with my family at home!

 All in all if you have small children, if you are not feeling well, or maybe you are rushed and just too busy to get to the store, this is something you really need to look into. We order food from restaurants that deliver, why not get your groceries delivered too?

 

Check out these links for more info:

                    

 

 

 

 

May 12, 2017

Mothers Day

How Were We Ever Lucky Enough to Get A Day for Us? 

 History tells us Mothers Day technically started in medieval Britain. The 4th Sunday of lent was the day servants were given the day off to be with their mother and it was called "Mothering Sunday". 

Later, the real "Mothers Day" came early in the 1900s when a woman named Anna Jarvis had a memorial for her mother.  It is said she heard her mother pray that a day would be established to thank moms for all they do, so when her mom died in May of 1905 she vowed to make her mother's prayer a reality.  Anna contacted a philanthropist and joined a committee to honor all moms all over. 

In 1910 West Virginia was the first state to hold the second Sunday of May as Mothers Day. After campaigning, Anna got the congress to recognize the holiday so in 1914 it became an official "holiday". Originally the tradition was to attend church with your family while the moms wore carnation flowers and afterwards the children were to write a letter to their mom. In 1920 pre-printed mothers day cards began selling and it soon replaced the hand written letters from children. As the holiday became more commercialized, Anna began to get so upset she wanted the holiday abolished and was even arrested to make her point. Sadly she spent all of her time and money on fighting the holiday she once fought so hard to create she died having no children of her own.

Guess which day has the largest telephone activity? Yep, Mothers Day as more calls are made on this day than any other.  

Although we celebrate Mothers Day on the second Sunday in May, other countries have their own date for celebrating. For example, in Ethiopia & Thailand Mothers Day is celebrated in the fall while in Mexico it is always May 10th.

For all you moms out there Wes and I wish you the best Mothers Day yet! 

Posted in Kids & Families