Monday, June 23, 2014

My Personal Gainesville Restaurant Week | MUST EATS!

In honor of the Annual Gainesville Restaurant Week that has so graciously been put on each year by the Gainesville Chamber of Commerce, I have decided to highlight my personal, favorite restaurants in the area.  Now, none of these are featured restaurants on this years official tour, but make no mistake about it, they are OFFICIAL IN TASTE and need to be frequented. My wife and I are self-proclaimed "foodies".  We are contacted by many in our circles and are considered  reliable and consultative specialists when it comes to food and restaurant recommendations.  I would venture to say that, between us, there isn't one restaurant door that has gone unopened in Gainesville and the surrounding areas so I have a pretty qualified opinion on most places.  We enjoy dating and family time in a good restaurant, mostly the ones that are least advertised and underground favorites. So whether you're looking for a date spot, a catered event, or a brief meeting location, these eating sanctuaries will be right up your alley!

1511 NW 2nd Street
Nestled near the Duck Pond area of Gainesville, this quaint restaurant is ideal for quiet conversation, a
small little getaway, and, of course, a great meal.  Now, me being from the densely-populated, urban demographic of the Chicagoland area of Illinois, I have never come in contact with a buffalo, let alone ever tasted one.  But let it be known, Civilization has an undeniably great and hearty Water Buffalo burger.  I would liken it most closely to an Angus beef burger, but with a more robust and rich flavor.  It's sure to capture your taste buds and leave you full; especially on the king of buns, the kaiser roll.  This is just one of the many organic, international treats on their menu. And, for the health conscious, Civilization is greatly vegan-friendly.  Civilization is definitely a natural food lover's spot and a free-feeling ambiance to take advantage of in Gainesville.

The Top
30 N Main Street
This is, hands down, my favorite restaurant in Gainesville.  With me being a city boy, I am always on a
quest for venues, activities and restaurants that most closely resemble the food, culture and ambiance of "the big city" and, if only for a few hours, remind me of the urban, city culture.  THIS IS IT! Located right on Main street near the precise center of Gainesville (University and Main) it is always a bustling and tasty option.  But you may want to allow for a long wait time because it's always full… and well worth the wait.  If you go, and I highly recommend you do, you absolutely cannot leave with out at least ordering the corn nuggets.  I don't know how they make them, but they are similar to chicken nuggets but with a burst of seasoned cream corn, flavored just right to leave you wanting another bite each time.  You truly can't go wrong with anything on the menu, though.  A MUST EAT!

Southern Charm
  • 1714 SE Hawthorne Road
What good is it to live in the South and not have a viable option for "good ol' home cookin'".  I, too, enjoy southern cooking, but my biggest hang ups, most times, are that the food is heavy, in most cases, unhealthy, and usually cooked with a bunch of grease.  This makes it hard to justify eating these meals regulary and preserving my sexy LOL!  However, Southern Charm, qualifies for the best of both worlds. Nestled in the heart of east Gainesville, with a decor of an upscale, blues shack, Southern Charm is the brainchild of the same people that brought you the tasty goodness of Reggae Shack.  There are a number of guilt-free and creative dishes that they have fused together with names and tastes that we have come to enjoy such as Shrimp and Grits, Chicken and Waffles, Succotash, Okra, collard greens, apple turnovers and more!  I highly recommend the Shrimp and Waffles followed by the Apple turnovers with ice cream.

The Jones B-Side
203 SW 2nd Avenue
This upbeat, eclectic joint has moved it's home from it's East Gainesville location to one centered downtown in the party district of Gainesville. This is another new-aged, organic and naturally-raised food restaurant and it is DELICIOUS! And, for my personal taste, you can usually catch them playing some underground and old school hip-hop beats from A Tribe Called Quest, The Roots, Mos Def and the like. For someone like myself that just plain LOVES food, but needed to find a balance that I don't revert back to the 5'6", 200 pound frame of my former self, I have struggled to find delicious, gluten-free and/or organic alternatives to desserts that would rival my all-time favorite sweets.  But I have found some at The Jones. Let me recommend the vegan chocolate cake, the pecan bar, the chocolate chip brownie and the gluten-free chocolate chip pecan cookie.

Satchel's Pizza
1800 NE 23rd Avenue
Nestled on the Eastside of Gainesville, this iconic pizza restaurant resembles the home base of Scooby-Doo, Shaggy and their crew and it's by design.  The decor includes old 1960's games, paraphernalia, and even vehicles, in which you can dine, that resemble Scooby's mystery machine.  This theme and creative measures taken are what make Satchel's so unique and set apart from any other pizza place you will visit in the WORLD.  And it only helps that their jumbo pizzas with a wide array of toppings and flavors are mouth-watering and euphorically delicious… Come to think of it, I've often questioned whether their pizzas are baked with some other artifacts made popular in the 1960's era (please see Snoop Dogg.)  Two important things to be aware of when eating at this Gainesville Landmark: (1) allow for much wait time because it's always packed.. rightfully so, and (2) Be sure to bring cash! They're one of the few businesses that still operate on a cash basis in 2014.

The Hyppo
214 SE 2nd Avenue
I would have never thought you could find so much value in a popsicle.  But these aren't your everyday push-pops or Rocket pops.  The Hyppo is a boutique popsicle shop that prides themselves on an extremely unique offering of gourmet popsicles made with authentically real (not from concentrate either) ingredients.  They were birthed in St. Augustine, Florida and brought their coastal exclusivity and popularity to downtown Gainesville.  Their unique flavors such as Guava Hibiscus, Pineapple Cilantro, and Mango Habanero make this not just a great symphony of flavors, but an unparalleled experience… And they are DAAAAARN GOOD!!!  My favorite is the creamy, dreamy Key Lime Pie flavored pop.

Thank you so very much for you continued support.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions pertaining to this or any other real estate related topics at (352) 246-8706 or at  You can also visit my website at  And remember, when it comes to real estate, THINK HURST 1ST!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Home Alone | 10 Ways to Protect Your Home While on Vacation

I know we all wish we had a blonde-haired, eight year old kid, with the intellect of a Harvard grad student to conveniently "forget" at home to protect the fort while we're on vacation; much like McCauley Culkin in the hit 90's movie, Home Alone.  But let's face it, though his antics made that one of our all-time favorite movies (well, at least one of mine anyway), it couldn't be further from a realistic tactic.  Home burglary while you're off on your summer and holiday vacations is a very real risk and you have to be prepared.  Here are 10 very practical ways to protect your home and valuable assets while you're enjoying your vacation time.

1. Ask a Friend to Help - commission a family member or close friend of the family to periodically stop by your house to patrol the inside of the house, the perimeter or even collect important mail, packages delivered in your absence, or bring the trashcans in/out for the neighborhood trash day. If you're going on a vacation to a point of interest that they've never been, you may even want to bribe them with a special gift from that point of interest upon your return. I typically find that bags of Garrett's Popcorn do the trick when I take trips home to Chicago.

2. Don't Broadcast Your Vacation Plans on Social Media - it's nice to share your life with others via social media, but your life shared with the wrong hands could spell trouble; particularly if you're broadcasting your vacation plans. Take pictures of your vacation and save them until you return before you create the album on social media to share with your friends. (Don't worry... I'm guilty of this one, too.)

3. Completely Unplug Appliances - utility companies and energy conservation organizations agree that even though your appliances may be completely turned off, they still use energy even if they're still plugged. However, you may want to reconsider unplugging the refrigerator. Otherwise, you may end up with some award-winning science fair projects upon your return.

4. Notify the Police - believe it or not, your neighborhood police men take interest in stopping potential theft in your particular home. Contact local law enforcement to put them on watch and they will periodically patrol yor neighborhood for suspicious activity... And let's hope they're not the Joe Pesci type as seen in the movie, Home Alone. 

5. Install Motion Activated/Timed Lights - consider installing lights that are triggered by motions within a certain proximity to your house, door, or the like. Or, you can install lights that are programmed to activate at a certain time. Both of these options will confuse a potential thief as to whether or not a home is inhabited, or it will at least make them think twice about their attempt to rob the place.

6. Leave a Light or Two on Inside - Leave a low beam light, or two, on such as a small lamp, oven light or ceiling fan light. This will also confuse a break in plot when it gets dark outside.  It may be a small expense on the GRU utility bill, but it's a small price to pay in comparison to replacing items stolen in the event of a break in. 

7. Pause Mail Delivery - Contact the USPS online or by dropping by your local branch and request that they hold your mail. You can provide them with the specific dates of your vacation and the mail will resume upon your return along with all the mail that was slated to be delievered while you were gone.

8. Remove your Hidden Spare Key - I know you usually leave a spare key under the mat, above the door frame, under an outdoor pot or other removable fixture outside. You may even leave it in the garage somewhere. However, none of these places are safe when you're out of town because experienced thieves know where your spare is too. Consider removing the spare key while you're gone.

9. Have Lawn Freshly Cut and Hedges Clipped - I'm sure you have a regularly scheduled time for lawn and shrub maitnenance. However, you'll want to make sure you cut your grass and manicure that greenery just before you leave (or schedule your maintenance crew to pay a visit while you're away.) Uncut grass and shrubs are dead giveaways for thieves to signal that no one is home. Or, it can be a dead giveaway of a lazy homeowner as well.

10. Invest in a Good Alarm System - a good alarm system will trigger cops and neighbors in the event of a break in. There are several reasonably-priced services that charge a monthly monitoring fee and also provide monitoring options via your phone through an app. I, personally, use ADT and have been very satisfied with their services. Feel free to contact me if you need me to refer you to a good rep in town.

Thank you so very much for you continued support.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions pertaining to real estate at (352) 246-8706 or at  You can also visit my website at  And remember, when it comes to real estate, THINK HURST 1ST!

Monday, June 9, 2014

FATHER'S DAY GIFT IDEAS | Your Last Minute Gift Guide is Here!

Well, according to most Americans, mothers are very important to us and that's why we tend to acknowledge them first in everything that we do.  When kids approach dad and want something, or want to play outside, his famous, almost universal response is, "Go ask your mother."  When men and women compete in sports, accomplish something major and get interviewed after the game, they famously end the interviews with, "Hi mom!"  The famous scripts on the top of UF Graduation hats, more often than not, read, "Thanks Mom."  Mothers a very integral in spending time cooking for us, getting us to extracurricular events, cleaning behind us, serving as the buffer between us and the wrath of our fathers, and just plain caring human beings.  This is probably why we typically regard the Mother's day holiday so highly and typically treat Father's Day with equal importance of, say, GroundHog's Day.  But let's be honest here, with out the seed and family support of what fathers provide to us, we wouldn't even have families, let alone be able to experience life.  Fathers are the leaders, providers, decision-makers, the warriors for the family … and they should be honored as such.  Some of the pressure and cares of the world are taken upon the shoulders of fathers as to create and keep peace at home so that the wives and children don't ever have to fend for themselves and they can feel protected.  So maybe this year, you can think outside of the annual tie gifting.  I've compiled a list of 30 DIY (Do-it-yourself) gift ideas for the typical Father who takes care of his castle:

Welders always need to use proper protection while they’re working, and there’s no reason they can’t look cool while staying safe. This eye-catching helmet looks fantastic, while providing him with the comfort and added safety measures he needs.

Stripped and rusty screws are a major frustration for the handy man and DIY dad. However, they’re a common enough occurrence, so give Dad the tool he needs in order to handle stubborn screws like a pro.

The Handy Dad book is a thoughtful gift idea from the kids this Father’s Day. Choose from 25 different family-friendly projects that Dad and kids can enjoy together.

Any guy who considers himself to be a handy man or DIY pro needs a high performance rotary tool kit. This one features a high performance motor and adjustable speeds for top performance, precision, and control.

A tub of cleaning putty is an awesome gift for Dad on Father’s Day. He can use it to gently yet effectively clean those tight spaces in electronics, appliances, air vents, fans, watches, and so much more.

If you’re stuck on what to give Dad for Father’s Day, you can’t go wrong with a high quality multi-tool like the Leatherman Wave. With so many uses in one easy-to-carry tool, it’ll quickly become his new favorite item in his kit.

Tiny pieces like nails, washers, and screws are easy to lose in the midst of a DIY home project. A magnetic wristband is a hands-free solution that eliminates the problem completely.

These magnetic LED Light Mines sure look cool, but there’s also incredibly useful as freestanding, 360-degree lights. They’ll stick to magnetic surfaces and the lighting is fully adjustable, creating a convenient and hands-free light source any time and any place he needs it.

Add an unbreakable hatchet to his tool belt or outdoor kit. It’s great for hikers and campers, or anyone who might have a need to chop kindling or small to medium logs and wooden planks.

Instead of the usual, cumbersome extension cords he’s used to, get him this retracting extension cord reel. An impressive 30-foot cord easily pulls out and locks at whatever length his project requires, and it automatically retracts when he’s done. He’ll also love how easily it stores, unlike his typical extension cords.

If Dad already has a good power drill, the next best gift is a great holster for it. This custom drill holster keeps his favorite tool at the ready while he works. It also holds several smaller tools, making every DIY project go a lot smoother.

During the cleaning and polishing stage of any DIY project, there’s usually not much elbow grease left to spare. This rechargeable handheld power scrubber gets the job done with minimal time and effort.

This pen is a fantastic gift for handy dads and the DIY-ers in the family. It’s a multi-use writing tool that works under water, on wood, on aluminum, and even on steel. It features a ruler, a magnetic strip, a level, angle gauges, and so much more.

Every guy who does a lot of handy work and DIY home projects knows how nerve-wracking it can be to simply hammer a nail. Save his thumbs and let him relax with a magnetic nail setter. It holds the nail in place, so he doesn’t have to risk hitting his precious fingers.

When it comes to yard work, few things are as frustrating as a tangled hose. Save him from the frustration this Father’s Day by gifting him an automatic hose reel.

If he’s a camper, hiker, outdoorsman, or fixer-upper of any kind, don’t let him leave home without a versatile, heavy duty rescue tool. It has many uses, but it’s light enough to fit in his backpack or tool belt.

Dad will appreciate how versatile this multi-drive wrench proves to be. It’s designed to work on a variety of fasteners. It also includes an LED flashlight for use at night and in dark spaces.

Power tools and handy accessories are a great go-to gift idea for Father’s Day, but don’t forget the importance of a good pair of work gloves. These durable gloves are a perfect fit for even the toughest projects.

Every handy man needs a multi-tool like this one. It’s perfect for those odd jobs around the home, office, and job site.

The Buffer Bit is a unique addition to any dad’s tool kit. Add a buffer pad to a cordless drill for easy cleaning, buffing, shining, and polishing. Dad can use it to gently clean leather, chrome, cars, tools, sinks, and so much more.

When it comes to DIY home projects, guys don’t usually like to leave things up to chance. A laser level tool is a great way to ensure that pictures, fixtures, and shelves are even and level-before drilling any holes in the wall.

No tool kit is complete without a great screw driver. This one has everything he needs in one sleek but sturdy tool.

Lightweight but tough, this zip blade tool is versatile and easy to use. Pick one up for your at-home handy man and DIY pro this Father’s Day.

Serrated blade edges and a titanium coating make this a multipurpose tool for cutting aluminum siding, light sheet metal, heavy wire, and more. This will be his favorite tool for heavy duty projects.

Built specifically to fit the needs of professional truckers, this survival tool is a great gift for handy men and DIY dads. It’s the go-to tool for any situation that requires prying, hacking, pulling, or pounding. It’s also a great item for those who love camping and hiking.

This Father’s Day, turn his iPhone into a truly impressive camera with this extreme lens made specifically for smartphones. The macro lens applies a 10x multiplier to his regular iPhone camera, letting him focus in on those tight spots and long distances when he can’t get in close himself.

A quality tool set is an absolute must-have for any true handyman. Don’t let him settle for anything less than the best. This chrome-vanadium tool set contains all the necessary tools (over 100 of them!), all in a sturdy and well-organized case for fast and easy transport.

Help him protect his hearing on the job while he also stays motivated with his favorite tunes. This durable headset is perfect for dads who often work with loud tools and equipment, whether at home or on the job site.

This survival handbook helps him prepare for such worst-case scenarios as wrestling an alligator, extinguishing a backyard fire, and calming and crying kid. It’s a fun and enlightening Father’s Day gift for handy men and outdoorsmen.

The JobyGorillatorch is the go-everywhere DIY-er’s tool. Its strong, flexible legs let it wrap around just about anything, and a beam of light with adjustable brightness illuminates the work area. It’s one of the best tools for flexible, adjustable, hands-free lighting.


All of these great gift ideas, and more, can be found on the Amazon website while supplies last.  And if you want them delivered in time for the Father's Day holiday, I suggest you order them today!!

Also, please do me a person favor… you can call it your Father's Day gift to me :)  Please visit my new website with a ton of pertinent real estate info.  Please go to the "ABOUT" page and write me an endorsement or testimonial of my resourcefulness, your experience working with me or however you feel led.  Thank you so very much for you continued support.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions pertaining to real estate at (352) 246-8706 or at  And remember, when it comes to real estate, THINK HURST 1st!