Florida homes, houses, realtors, Stuart, Sewall's Point, Martin County, Real Estate
Bob and Maryellen Castellano's Blog

Free today! Room Planning App

I have often wished I had the kind of app that interior designers have:  where I could enter my room dimensions and then start moving furniture around on the screen.  Well, I think I found one and since this neat floor planning  app is free today, I wanted to alert you to it. I thought: people who love to rearrange their furniture weekly will love this!  Then I thought, spouses of people who love to rearrange their furniture weekly will love this because they won't have to push all of this furniture around!

 My IT guy told me about it, so I know the link is safe. There is generally a charge for it, but if you’re like me, you love a bargain, so today is the day to get it before they start charging again.



RoomScan - The app that draws floor plans by itself

By Locometric

 RoomScan draws floor plans all by itself - just touch each wall with your phone! To get the best from the app, please have a look at these demo videos: http://locometric.com/demo

"This app is incredible. It draws a floor plan after you tap it against the wall a few times." — LIFEHACKER

"It's incredibly simple, but seems to work really well." — HUFFINGTON POST

"You can trade your tape measure for this slick app called RoomScan" — GIZMODO

This version of RoomScan is great for scanning single rooms, and RoomScan Pro is available with more advanced features.

We're here to help if you need any assistance - tap the ? button in the app and send us an email.

• The floor plan appears in seconds, with approximate wall lengths and floor area.

• RoomScan can draw floor plans of L-shaped and complex rooms just as easily as small rectangular rooms.

• Measurements are estimated to the nearest 10cm (or half a foot).

• For super-accurate instant floor plans, use RoomScan in conjunction with a laser measure. Just tap a wall on the finished floor plan and input your measurement. RoomScan intelligently combines its own measurements with yours to create a perfect plan.

• Add doorways as you walk around the room - no need to "drag and drop" them on later.

• Rooms are automatically connected together to create a plan of the whole floor.

• Choose your own custom floor plan colours (RoomScan Pro only).

• Measurements are available in metric, feet & inches and East Asian units.


Happy planning!!

DIY Project Ideas

It's that time of year that many of you think about selling your home.  School is letting out, summer vacation is starting and what better time to move than before the start of the new school year.  Whether you want to add some pizzaz to spruce up your home for prospective buyers or you're staying put and to make some changes you can enjoy yourself, I've got a few ideas for you.  And all of them can be completed in a weekend for under $500.

Click here to check them out.






#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Rescue, #Dog, #Cats, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate #sunshine

Great Plants That Don't Need Watering

Since Florida is located in a tropical zone, we often go for long periods without rain.  (No complaining here!) However, this rain can make landscaping a little challenging.  Do you need some ideas on plants that will do well without a lot of fuss and water?

I have a brown thumb.  If plants have feelings, they cry when they see me.  I try my best, but I have learned that I need to have the same attittude about plants as I do about cut flowers:  they are going to die, it's my job to keep them alive as long as possible.  From personal experience, I need to share a great secret with you. Orchids.  Orchids can be relatively inexpensive, are pretty and they grow like crazy here, with very little care.  I received one as a birthday gift about 4 years ago, and not only is it still alive, it's blooming again! Not only are the blooms beautiful, but this one has lasted about two months now and is still going strong.


Do you want some more tips on easy care plants that don't require a lot of water? Click here to to find out.

Have a beautiful day!




#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Rescue, #Dog, #Cats, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate #sunshine

The "Real" News May, 2015

Memorial Day weekend evokes so many thoughts and images for us.  Having grown up in the northeast, it was the unofficial start of summer.  We loved visiting the beaches on this long weekend and enjoyed hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill each evening.  As a Girl Scout, Maryellen marched in the Memorial Day parade, and was honored to carry the American flag one year, and our youngest daughter, Chelsey, marched as a Girl Scout as well. Bob’s dad served in both World War I and World War II and landed on Normandy Beach, so Memorial Day was always a very special day of remembrance in his family.   Here in Stuart, we attend the parade each year, with tears in our eyes as salute our living veterans and  we remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice that me might continue to live in freedom.  With these thoughts and memories, we begin our Memorial Day weekend.

We hope this message finds you well.  We are thankful to report that we have been very busy, between listings, showing, closings and volunteer activity.  We always enjoy keeping in touch with you and hearing about the changes and milestones in your life.  In our lives, we have had a lot going on.  We attended the NAR/WCR Legislative meetings in Washington DC (and met some wonderful realtors from across the county) .  Bob was the photographer at the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast’s “Bunfest” and Maryellen assisted him.  Five kittens and a mama cat have temporarily joined our family as we provide foster care for them, giving them time to grow and mature.  (They will be available for adoption from HSTC in about 2 months.) We are chairing the “Prêt à Manger” (Little Taste) fundraiser to benefit Molly’s House on November 2, from 5:30 - 8PM.  (Save the date!) This event is so much fun, you will NOT want to miss it. Finally, both of our daughters went under contract to buy their first homes, working with outstanding realtors in our network—and our oldest, Dina, and her husband Chris, closed on her home in Texas yesterday! This reminds us that no matter when you buy or sell a home, we can help you—so please do not hesitate to contact us!  You are the reason for our success, and for this, we are very thankful.


The latest real estate data for single-family Martin County homes show that the number of closed sales has stabilized after growing 25% in 2013. Prices, on the other hand, continue a gradual increase of about 15% per year. This healthy, steady increase represents the positive change in the market. The median price is approaching $300,000 for the first time since the bubble. Pending sales experienced a normal seasonal uptick in April. Inventory bottomed out last June and is beginning to rebound as fewer homes are "under water" and more sellers are able to move on without bringing cash to closing. Overall, the single-family home market continues in recovery mode. For more detailed information on the real estate market and how it affects you, please give us a call and we will be happy to meet with you!


As always, we thank you for your support and loyalty.  We wish you a wonderful weekend and a meaningful Memorial Day.


Warmest regards,


Bob and Maryellen

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Rescue, #Dog, #Cats, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate

Stuart Named Top Small Town by Smithsonian

Stuart is an incredible place to visit, and just as wonderful a place to live.  During Spring Break of 2000, we decided to take a trip to Stuart, Florida. I remember it like it was yesterday.  When we left New Jersey it was 40 and lightly raining.  The sky was battleship grey--you know, the kind of day that chills you to the bone. That weather lasted the whole time we were gone.  We arrived in Florida after flight changes, delays, connections, lost luggage and an extremely upset nine-year old who knew that her favorite giraffe, Joshie was in that lost luggage. It was 11 PM so the sun wasn't shining, but the temperature was pleasant--no heavenly--after a long NJ winter.  By the time we woke up in the morning, the sun WAS shining and the luggage had been delivered--including Joshie.  I went for a run and then we went to the beach.  Imagine my delight when we found a (free!)  parking spot without much difficulty.  When we got to the beach (also free!) I was pleasantly surprised to find that blankets were not placed so tightly that they touch.  Actually, I could easily find a spot with room for our blanket, umbrella and multiple sand castles--with an unobstructed view of the ocean.  I built sandcastles with our youngest daughter and toasted in the sun.  I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day in the low eighties and the bluest sky I'd ever seen.  I was ready for a dip and walked right in the ocean--where the water temperature was a refreshing but pleasant mid-70's--a temperature the water never hit even in the dog days of summer at the Jersey shore.

The next day was another beautiful, cloudless and we decided to spend the it day at the pool--which the kids loved.  We had planned to spend two days traveling, two  in Stuart and two at the "house of mouse," but the kids were having so much fun in Stuart, they actually decided that they wanted to spend an extra day in Stuart and give up a day at Disney.  Do I need to tell you that by this point, they were all lobbying for a move to Florida?  Having gone to college in sunny California and moved back to NJ, I never thought I'd move again, but even I was sold.  So we went back to NJ, dreamed about our move to Stuart and came back over Thanksgiving break when we put an offer in on a home.  We closed in March of 2011 and moved in July.  Bob told me we could move back after a year if I didn't like it, but (spoiler alert!) we are still here and can't imagine living anywhere else.

All of this to tell you that I am not the least bit surprised to tell you that the Smithsonian named Stuart in its top 20 small towns to visit. 

Are you ready to move to Stuart (or anywhere in beautiful Martin County? Call us and we will help you make it happen!

#Stuart, #Florida,# houses,# homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #PalmCity, # Martin,# Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate

Just Listed! 3/2/2 CBS Home

You'll love this custom built 3/2/2 CBS home on over 2/3 acre property.  You'll immediately feel welcome and at home with beautiful landscaping and a house that's been lovingly cared for, inside and out.  Screened patio and plenty of room for a pool, mother-in-law suite or guest house.  Private, quiet and conveniently located in Locks Pointe with easy access to Publix and 95. Oversized driveway--bring your toys!

Click here for pictures and more details!

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin, #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate

Working to Help You!

It's official! I have earned my Graduate Realtor Institute designation.  I'm proud to have taken this extra step and gained an extra level of expertise that will benefit my clients.

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Rescue, #Dog, #Cats, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate

The "Real" News March, 2015

It’s almost spring and we have been enjoying the most beautiful weather here in Martin County.  While the rest of the country has struggled with snow and cold, we are enjoying beautiful days in the 70’s and 80’s.  In addition to spring approaching, did you know that the ultimate Pi day is this Saturday, March 14?  For those of you who love numbers and dates, Pi is 3.1415926 and 3.14.15 at 9:26 AM is the time to celebrate—perhaps with your favorite pie?


We have some wonderful news and information to share. Our Martin County Schools were ranked first in the state

The real estate market remains strong as we finish the first quarter of 2015.  Sales are increasing marginally at virtually all price points. It is good to note that the upper end of the market, which had remained stagnant, is catching up. Though not yet reflected in sold reports, the pending numbers at the upper end are strong. Data show a modest change in the median price and substantial change in the average price. This is a reflection of the upper end starting to gain momentum. Inventory remains strong with declines noted in the lower price ranges due to availability and rapid absorption. Closed sales are up 10% in units year to date while new pending sales declined 5%. This is a clear indication that buyers sense the improved housing climate–that is, they are not being as picky because a “better deal” is not thought to be on the horizon. The median sales price, which fluctuates from month to month, is up 11% year to date through December 2015. The overall market is very healthy with most improvement at the upper end as this market sees the recovery previously seen in the lower and median market. For more information and detailed market data, please contact us.

Bob and I were thrilled to work on the committee planning committee, sponsor and attend the Paws and Claws Gala on February 21, benefitting The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast.  This year HSTC celebrated 60 years of saving animals on the treasure coast.  The gala was extremely successful once again, raising over $200,000 for the animals.  Giving back to our community is important to us and we are able to do so though our Giveback Program when you list and buy with us, or refer someone who does.  We have donated over $2000 to local charities through our giveback program over the past year alone. 

Dan and Jane Bailey, Bob Castellano

Dan and Jane Bailey were referred to us by members of the Knights of Columbus Stuart chapter. Their recent home purchase resulted a $250 donation to the Knights. 


Our business would not be possible without the support of you—our valued clients and friends.  We sincerely thank you for your loyalty and your referrals. Please don’t ever think you are bothering us—we are never too busy to help you. We promise to work hard to make your home buying and selling experience the best one possible. 

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Rescue, #Dog, #Cats, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate


Martin County School District Ranked Best in the State

This is just in: another reason to love Martin County! Martin County Schools were ranked the best in the state of Florida.   Even if you don't have children in school, great schools havea positive impact on property values.

To check out the report, click on the link below:




The "Real" News November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!  One thing we love about this holiday is that it gives us the opportunity to pause and reflect on all the gifts we have. We truly appreciate all of you who help make our business successful and we wanted to share the joy of gratitude captured with this short video:

Click here to view

The real estate market remains strong.  Data shows  positive year over year gains for closed home sales. Pending sale have also increased year over year, which is a strong indicator for the remainder of 2014. Inventory remains stable with the absorption rate at a very healthy 6 months’ supply of homes on the market. As the average sales prices continue to climb slowly and we finally see some new construction, we recognize continued recovery in the market, even at the high end. With interest rates still at an all-time low, the market is still favorable to both buyers and sellers. While the weather getting cold (and snowy) this time of year for our northern neighbors, it really does get more beautiful here in on the Treasure Coast.  After the cold and snow of last year, many people want a warm retreat before the winter sets in and we have already experienced a very busy autumn. Please contact us if you want more detailed market data and we will be glad to share it with you.


There is always something good going on in Martin county--Stuart was recently named the top retirement town by “Where to Retire” magazine.  Click here for more details.


Our Give Back program remains active and we are thrilled to be able to help our wonderful clients and at the same time, support many of the local charitable organizations that make Martin county such a great place to live.  Congratulations to Matt and Sarah for the purchase of their first home and thanks to them, we donated $250 to the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast.

Bob Castellano, Sarah Kornegay (Animal Care Manager HSTC and new homeowner),

Karen Bellucy  (Development Manager HSTC)


Whether they are through our Give Back program or based on our work or friendship with you, we always appreciate your referrals.We know that you probably don’t want to carry a stack of our cards with you (although we’ll be happy to give them to you if you do), so when you’re talking to someone who is thinking of buying or selling a home or business property, please let them know that you know a great husband and wife realtor team. Then ask them if you can give us their contact information.  When they agree, just give us a call with their info and we will contact them in 48 hours or sooner.  It couldn’t be more simple, could it? There is no greater compliment than receiving a referral and we promise to treat them like cherished family.


In closing, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving,

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Rescue, #Dog, #Cats, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate


Stuart Named Top Retirement Town

Yet another source has recognized a beautiful Martin County town. Stuart was named the Best Place to Retire by “Where to Retire” magazine.  I’m not retired, but I’m not surprised about this latest honor either.  Bob and I moved to Stuart thirteen years ago, just before our youngest daughter turned ten and we LOVE it here.  The weather is great.  The people are so nice.  And just last month I blogged about one of our incredible downtown restaurants, The Gafford. And fast forward thirteen years, our daughter has graduated from South Fork High School’s IB program, attended the University of South Florida and graduated with no debt (thanks to our investment in Florida Pre-paid combined with a Bright Futures Scholarship.) Bob and I are happily finding homes for nice people and families who want to live in paradise, if not all year, at least for vacation or the colder months.

There is something for everyone in Stuart:  restaurants, fishing, shopping, diving, museums, theater, arts, beaches, volunteer opportunities, green market, and festivals—well, the list could go on and on!  Martin Memorial Hospital attracts some of the best doctors in the country who move here for the great weather and top-notch school system.  And back to our retired folks, the Council on Aging offers classes, clubs, a place to meet and eat, Meals on Wheels and even on-site medical. Click here to see the news story WPBF ran about Stuart.

If you are considering retiring or relocating, be sure to consider Stuart and when you’re ready, call us to help you find your dream home.


Roosevelt Bridge, Stuart, Florida

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City,  #Martin , #Paradise, #Relocate, #buy, #Sell, #HomesForSale, #retire, #relocate


Bob and Maryellen Castellano   TeamCastellano@PremierRealtyGroup.com   www.StuartRealTeam.com



Halloween Fun

Every year, Premier Realty Group celebrates Halloween in a big way.  You may have noticed the big, black, sparkly spider on the roof and the witch crashed into the utility pole.  We also host a Halloween party on Halloween night. (Let me know if you’d like to join us.)  There is a pumpkin carving contest for the kids—judging takes place on Halloween night and local dignitaries present the awards.  The Monday before Halloween, we hold our own pumpkin carving contest for the Premier team—and I am thrilled to report that my pumpkin was one of the winning pumpkins!  Check out my pumpkin.  Kudos to our youngest for helping me find the inspiration for the design and helping me draw it on the pumpkin so I could execute the winning carving.


#Stuart, #PumpkinCarving, #Halloween, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #PalmCity, #Foodies, #MartinCounty

Great Night in Downtown Stuart

Our youngest daughter was home visiting this weekend so we decided to check out The Gafford with her.  Spoiler alert:  we loved it.  The location is great—downtown Stuart is charming and always a fun place to spend an evening.  There are entrances to the restaurant on both Flagler and Osceola.  With its chic décor, friendly staff and great mix of clientele, it’s got a great vibe.  We were seated at a great table—near the front window on Osceola Street, in view of the open grill.

Service was great.  Our server, Emry, was quickly at our table taking our drink offers.  She poured our wine at the table and with a little left in the bottle, she topped our glasses off and told us that it was good luck to finish the bottle.  To start, we decided to go with the cheese, cured meat and fruit board.  It was delightful, with craft cured salami, artisan cheeses, homemade pickles (crunchy with a zing), local Palm City honey and green grapes.

In between courses, owners Rick and Elizabeth stopped by our table to introduce themselves.  It turned out they were just getting ready to take a dinner break and sat at the table next to us after visiting for a moment.  Later during dinner, head chef (their son) Taylor, stopped by to make sure everything was ok. (It was!)

As we finished our appetizer, our dinner arrived.  I had the swordfish piccata with garlic mashed potatoes and string beans.  The swordfish was cooked perfectly and the piccata sauce was one of the best I’ve ever eaten—lemony, buttery and perfectly salty with capers.  The garlic mashed potatoes were creamy, generously flavored with garlic and rosemary.  Bob ordered the pepper crusted seared ahi “sammie.”  The ahi was perfectly seared on the outside, raw on the inside and adorned with a wasabi crème.  It was presented on delicious roasted garlic naan with baby arugula, served with homemade potato chips.  Our daughter had the herb crusted chicken, also served with the garlic mashed potatoes and green beans.  The chicken was cooked perfectly (I hate overdone chicken), flavored by its time on the grill and a wonderful blend of herbs.

There were many wonderful options for dessert, but we decided to walk across the street to Kilwin’s for ice cream and candy apples.  We couldn’t resist that Stuart institution. But that’s the subject for another blog post.  As for The Gafford, we can’t wait to go back and try some of the other choices from a eclectic menu.

#Stuart, #RestaurantReview, #Gourmet, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Palm City, #Foodies, #MartinCounty, #Paradise


The Gafford on Urbanspoon


Martin County is Dog Friendly

One of the neat things about sharing your home with a dog is the social aspect—a marked difference from living with a cat.  Dogs by nature love to socialize with each other, as well as field trips to just about anywhere but the vet.

In addition to the beautiful weather that makes outdoor activities with Toto so pleasant, there are so many places that welcome dogs.  Let’s start with the beaches. As long as they are on a leash, dogs can go on every beach without a lifeguard.  Leashed dogs are allowed after 5 PM until before 10 AM on the following beaches with lifeguards: Hobe Sound Beach, Bob Graham Beach, Jensen Beach Causeway, Fletcher Beach, Bryn Mawr Beach, Glascock Beach, Stokes Beach.

Feeling hungry?  You can bring your pup to the Pelican Café, East Ocean Bistro,  Duffy's  downtown, Alice's Restaurant and Sailor's Return are happy to see your dogs on their dog-friendly patios.

Ready to adopt a dog?  Be sure to visit the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast.  To see available dogs (also cats, bunnies and other critters) visit www.hstc1.org. Not only will you rescue a homeless dog, but you'll also gain a new furry friend.


#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #Jensen Beach, #Jupiter, # Sewall's Point, #Martin, #Paradise, #Hobe Sound, #beach #SantaDogs, #Dogs






The "Real" News October Real Estate Report

The real estate market is ever-changing and it's important that you have the most up-to-date information. As we look back at the past 18 months for perspective, we saw a very busy, almost overheated market in spring of 2013. Prices increased by about 12% year over year from 2012 to 2013 and the market remained strong through the summer. While Team Castellano had a really busy fourth quarter, the overall market actually slowed down and the market remained slow through the beginning of summer 2014. By August, things were picking up and in August we saw a year over year increase in volume, median sales price and percentage of buyers paying cash. Furthermore, we saw an increase in inquires, showings and sales as we approached autumn, especially in the market up to $300,000. The market above this price point is also healthy until we hit the very top end of the market over $3 million, where it remains somewhat sluggish. Now is an excellent time to list your home and there is a healthy market of buyers who want to beat the predicted increase in mortgage rates. It’s also still a wonderful time to buy, as interest rates have seen very little increase and the low rates give buyers optimum purchase power.

For more information and detailed data, please contact us directly.



Have you been dreaming of living on the beach?  This is just one of the many beautiful options available for you.


#Beachfront #Home #House #OceanView #Florida #Paradise


Have You Been to Duffy's Lately?

My husband and I went to Duffy's last night for dinner.  They had given him a free appetizer for his birthday and we decided to take advantage of the offer. As soon as we looked at the menu, we noticed some real changes. There were still 2-for-1 happy hour drinks all day and our classic favorites like cheeseburger sliders, fish tacos and salads. But there were also some great additions that made us realize they'd really stepped up their game.

We started with the regular sized sesame crusted ahi tuna, served with sesame noodles and cucmber salad.  We were not just happy but impressed!  We have always considered Duffy's a sports bars with great burgers and fries and even like their fish tacos, but we never looked at seafood as a specialtiy.  This dish rivaled that served at any seafood restaurant.  The ahi was crusted with a mix of light and dark sesame seeds.  Seared perfectly just on the outside and raw on the inside, the sesame seeds gave it a delightful crunch.  The noodles were served cold and were tasty in a sesame peanut sauce.  The cuccumbers were thinly sliced, crisp and tart in a vinegar dressing.  Had I ordered this in the large size, it would have made a perfect meal.  The regular size was just right to split as an appetizer.

For dinner, I ordered my go to bar food: cheeseburger sliders with fries.  The fries were crunchy.  Cheeseburgers were served with my choice of cheese (cheddar), pickles, tomatoes and lettuce. I never rave about cheeseburgers, so these fit the bill and were very satisfying.  My husband ordered the Churasco steak, a skirt steak with chimichurri, black beans, rice and plantains. He was happy with its preparation and ate every bit.

Our only complaints were minor.  The service was a bit slow (perhaps the kitchen was a bit overwhelmed as we stopped by during the UF game) My wine was fine but the vodka on the rocks was a lot of ice with a little vodka in an on the rocks glass--but at least it's 2-for-one.  Overall, it was a good value for some good food and I will definitely go back for that seared ahi.  It's a nice, local sports bar with friendly atmostphere, a varied menu and some nice culinary surprises.


#Stuart #RestaurantReview #Florida #houses #paradise #MartinCounty

Duffy's Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

Independence Day on the Treasure Coast


It’s been so busy lately (always a good thing) that I haven’t been able to blog as much lately.  But Independence Day is worth writing about, three weeks later.  We decided to go to the St. Lucie Mets Game.  There is always fireworks for Independence Day, and what could be more American than baseball (and hot dogs—we had those at the game too!)

We got a rocky start as the game was delayed for about 90 minutes waiting for a storm to pass.  Fortunately, it did pass, the tarp was removed from the field and things got started.  Jenn Austin sang the National Anthem.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this young woman has an incredible voice—far surpassing many stars who have attempted this.  In fact, her performance was so beautiful that I am writing about it three weeks later—just so you can see it too.  Click here to see and hear it for yourself.

Bob and I are both big baseball fans, so of course, we enjoyed the game.  James Taylor, local candidate, threw out the first pitch.  The game was scoreless through the 5th inning when Maikis de la Cruz hit a home run for the Mets.  The Hammerheads tied it up in the 7th, but the Mets came back, beating the Hammerheads 2-1.


After the game came the fireworks.  Once again, they were incredible and accompanied by music.  Each group of fireworks was so spectacular that you felt like you had reached the grand finale.  After about a half an hour it was the grand finale and then time to go home, very happy after an evening of baseball, peanuts and crackerjacks, and fireworks.  I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our independence.

Fireworks after the gamegame

Memories of Independence Day, 2013

Over the course of this year, the server that held our blog crashed and we lost our entire website and blog.  We have rebuilt our webstie and dare I say, it's better than it ever was; however, there was no way to just recover our blog without reposting everything. I saved this blog post from last year's Independence Day.  I hope you enjoy this memory as much as I do, and that it will inspire you to get out and celebrate our independence in this great county.

One of the great things about living in Stuart is that fun and entertainment is always close by.  In spite of the fireworks and festivities planned for downtown Stuart, we decided that the perfect all-American activity for the day would be a baseball game.  The St. Lucie Mets play just a stone’s throw away at Tradition field.  Checking the team’s schedule, we found that they had a home game scheduled against the Jupiter Hammerheads, and much to my wife’s delight, fireworks following the game.

It was a beautiful evening.  Temperatures were in the 80s with a pleasant breeze.  The game was good, with the Mets beating the Hammerheads by a score of 3-2.

But it was the activities before and after the game that really made this July 4th game special.  We arrived in time to see Port St. Lucie Mayor JoAnn Faiella present Army specialist Haley Nine with a key to the city.  After serving in the Army since she was 17 years old, 21-year-old Haley Nine recently returned to Port St. Lucie after her tour of duty.  Nine threw out the first pitch of the game.  Then she surprised family friend Sondra Millman with a flag flow over Afghanistan on Memorial Day in honor of Millman’s granddaughter, Elizabeth Jacobson, who was killed while serving in Iraq.  The flag was presented by the St. Lucie chapter of the Sons of the Revolution.  Before Jenn Austin sang the Star Spangled Banner so beautifully that any American’s heart would swell with pride, there was a moment of silence for Sgt. Justin Johnson, South Fork High School graduate from Jensen Beach who was killed during a mortar attack on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. We counted our blessings as we honored our soldiers, living and fallen, thankful to live in freedom in this amazing country.

The Mets played a great game, scoring first with a sacrifice fly by Matt Reynolds and Dustin Lawley scoring.  Charley Thurther’s RBI brought Kevin Plawecki in for a second Mets run.  The Hammerheads tied the score in the third inning with Christian Yelch’s two-run homer.  The Mets came back in the 6th inning with an RBI by Kevin Plawecki, bringing Jason Boyd home for the winning run.

Fireworks followed the game and they were spectacular!  Showers of blue, green, red and white filled the sky for nearly a half an hour, while the sound of pyrotechnic explosions and patriotic music filled the air.

Coming from the north, Independence Day has always been a great day of celebration for me.  This Treasure Coast Fourth of July could hold its own compared to the New England version, with the added benefit of living here in paradise.

#Stuart, #Fireworks,#StLucie, #StLucieMets, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #Sewall'sPoint, #IndependenceDay, #Martin, #Paradise

Best Places to See Stuart's Fireworks

We’re so fortunate in Stuart to have a fabulous fireworks show planned for Independence Day . Fireworks will be set off over the St. Lucie River at 9:00 PM.  I’ve got a few suggestions of places to celebrate and enjoy the show:

Arrive early, bring a chair and get a great view from the Roosevelt Bridge

Catch a late dinner at one of the great restaurants in downtown Stuart like The Riverwalk Café, Mulligans, the Key Lime Café, Duffy’s, or the Osceola Street Café.  Then head over to the Downtown Riverwalk--one of my favorite downtown Stuart features--for a front row seat.

If you’ve got a boat, raft up with the team from Marine Max.  They’ll be on the St. Lucie River, just east of the Roosevelt Bridge from 6:00 PM to 10:30 PM.  For more information and to register, click on http://www.marinemax.com/stores/southeast/stuart/boat-events/fireworks-raft-up.aspx.

Flagler Park in Historic downtown Stuart, at the end of the Star Spangled Celebration. What?  You haven’t heard about the Star Spangled Celebration? This Patriotic, Family-Friendly, FREE Event will feature food trucks, vendors, beer and wine, bounce houses, a giant water slide, pony rides and face painting. Festivities begin at 2 PM with live music on the two different stages beginning at 4 PM. Ben Prestage is returning this year and will be joined by the Sierra Band, Shadow Creek and Emily Brooke on the  "Infiniti Stuart" Riverwalk Stage. The "Audi Stuart" Stage offers a second option with the returning Stuart Community Band, SOLID GOLD, the Andrew Morris Band and the Tom Jackson Band. A spectacular fireworks show starts at  9:00 PM and you’re in the perfect spot to see it .


The multitude of options to celebrate Independence Day is yet another reason I love living in Stuart. Is this a great community or what?!?

#Stuart, #Fireworks, #Florida, #Houses, #Homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #Sewall'sPoint, #IndependenceDay, #Martin, #Paradise

Gourment Thai in Stuart

Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines.  While I am not of Thai descent, I still consider it a comfort food.  The combination of spices, the sweet, sour, salty, hot flavors and the sticky rice all combine to put a smile on my face on the worst of days.  Corner Gourmet is Thai taken up a notch.  Located in the historic 555 Building in Stuart, it is an unassuming little eatery.  Décor is simple.  Even its name conceals the delightful cuisine prepared within. I did however, get a hint from the picture of his lunch my husband posted a week earlier.

Curry is generally my go-to meal when I eat Thai, but I decided to go in a different direction and ordered the Thai Basil Chicken. When my dish was served, I was immediately delighted by the incredible aroma. The sauce was sweet and spicy, with delicious licorice flavored basil. The tender chicken was surrounded by fresh, still crunchy vegetables.  The jasmine rice was cooked expertly and the balance to the dish, allowing me to savor every drop of sauce.

My husband ordered three-flavor calamari with eggplant with brown rice. Calamari is tricky—it must be cooked for just a few minutes or for a few hours.  Anything in between results in rubber rings.  This calamari was tender.  Eggplant can be mushy when overdone, but this wasn’t.  The brown rice had a bit of a nutty taste.  Never have I enjoyed healthy eating so much!

I’ll let you in on another secret about Corner Gourmet.  All of this deliciousness is created by Chef Apinya.  She and her husband, Brian (who runs Corner Gourmet with her) are the former owners of Seven Orchids. So if you’ve been missing Chef Apinya’s cooking, you now know where to find it.

So, next time you are near downtown Stuart and craving some Thai deliciousness, check out Corner Gourmet.  You’ll be happy that you did.

For more information about Stuart and Martin County , FL, please visit our website www.StuartRealTeam.com.

#Stuart, #RestaurantReview, #CornerGourmet, #ThaiCuisine, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Foodies, #Martin , #Paradise

Corner Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Stuart Fine Dining

If you’re looking for the perfect place for a special occasion in Stuart, or you just like fine dining, Chop House 88 is the place for you.  I consider it somewhat of a hidden gem.  It’s location in Plantation Plaza doesn’t prepare you for the experience that awaits you when you pass through its modest portal.

The restaurant has been completely renovated.  To the right of the reception area is a beautiful bar.  To the left is the dining area.  Seating is comfortable and the décor is relaxing, stylish and elegant all at the same time—without that 70’s steakhouse look. Even the restrooms give a sense of comfort and charm.

The experience starts with great service—drink orders were promptly taken and delivered.  There is an ample wine list from which to choose, and our server, Ty, was happy to recommend a nice Cabernet.  He also brought us a basket of crusty sourdough bread, served with butter and a plate of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  For a touch of whimsy, he drew a smiley face in our olive oil with the balsamic vinegar, and it was well-deserved, as this combination with the sourdough bread gave us another thing to smile about.  The oil was earthy and fruity, the balsamic adding the perfect touch of tangy sweetness.  But Ty wasn’t just cheerful, he was also knowledgeable and perfectly attentive.

We each ordered a crock of French onion soup.  Hearty and delicious with that same homemade sourdough bread topped with cheese.  My husband ordered the salmon of the day with a fried egg on top.  The smokiness of the salmon combined perfectly with the egg.  It was served with mashed potatoes and a vegetable.  I ordered the braised short ribs with demi-glace, served with wood-smoked grilled asparagus and feta risotto.  My husband is a great chef, and his short ribs are a joy to behold, but I have to say, this was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten.  And unlike the haute cuisine of years past, the meals were generous in portion—we each had leftovers for another meal.

Chop House 88 has become my new special occasion restaurant.  I have heard they have an early bird special which I’d like to try for a not-as special occasion and I’m going to give it a try because I really don’t want to wait.



Chop House 88 on Urbanspoon

For more information about Stuart and Martin County, visit our website at www.StuartRealTeam.com.

#Stuart, #Restaurant Review, #ChopHouse88, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #Cooking, #Foodies, #Martin, #HobeSound , #Paradise


Random (Neat) Social Media Tip

I just learned a neat little social media tip I’d like to share.  Between Facebook switching the way I view updates from friend (most recent vs. top) and posts from numerous LinkedIn connections, it’s easy to miss something important that a friend or colleague posted or shared. By linking your Outlook account to LinkedIn and or Facebook, you can see your contacts’ latest posts or activities as you e-mail them.

Here’s how to do it.  In Outlook, click on file and account settings.  This will show you several options.  Click on Social Media.  Now, click the accounts you’d like to connect.  You will need to enter your ID and password.  Click the appropriate places for the options you want and click finished.  Wa-la, like magic, now this information is available in Outlook when you send or receive and e-mail from your contact.  (You may need to adjust the way you view messages by clicking on the social media icon on the bottom left of the message and/or the bottom right arrow to expand or contract the view.)

You’re welcome!


Visit us at www.StuartRealTeam.com

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #Techies, #Facebook, #Networking, #LinkedIn, #SocialMedia, #Martin, #HobeSound, #Paradise

All for the Kitties

It’s springtime, so all cat lovers know what time that is:  kitten season!  Every year around this time, Caring Fields Felines (formerly Hobe Sound Animal Protection League) holds its “Kitten Shower” at its Palm City location.  The kitten show is a fun event, featuring food, “tricky tray” raffle items, a tour of the sanctuary and of course, kittens available for adoption. Guests bring donations of kitten supplies or make monetary donations to help support the kittens and approximately 150 cats who live at CFF. This year’s event did not disappoint in any way.  There were wonderful items available in the raffle, ranging from cat-themed to people-pampering.  Sandwiches were donated from the local Subway and home-baked cookies (some cat shaped!) and cupcakes tempted the sweet tooth for dessert. But of course, the stars of the show were the kittens.  Over a dozen adorable kittens were available for adoption and several went home with their new forever families.  And that is the ultimate goal of CFF.

This is the last event CFF will be holding at its Markel Street location before they move to their new 5-acre property on Wedelia Terrace.   My partner, Bob and I support HSAPL through our giveback program. CFF is currently raising money in its capital campaign to pay for the expenses to move to its new location, and we’d like to help them in every way we can.  For every customer referred through CFF to buy or sell a home, Bob and I will donate $250 to CFF at closing. Check them out at http://www.HSAPL.org to learn how you can help them help more cats. For more information on our giveback program, visit our website at www.StuartRealTeam.com.

Rosemarie and Joe Dunn's new home purchase resulted in a $250 donation to Caring Fields Foundation

Rosemarie and Joe Dunn's home purchase resulted in a $250 donation to Caring Fields Felines.

Pictured:  Maryellen Castellano, Addie Dunn (future client), Rosemarie Dunn (Client Extraordinaire), and Pauline Glover (Executive Director of CFF) with one of the very sweet residents Caring Fields

#Stuart, #Florida,# houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #Sewall'sPoint, #Martin, #HobeSound, #Paradise, #cats, #kittens, #beach, #BeachLife

Flag Day

Seeing our American flag waving in the breeze, being saluted or displayed during the National Anthem always brings a feeling of pride to me. So each year when Flag Day rolls around, I reflect on this beautiful symbol and its significance to our country.   The first United States flag was adopted by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Flag Day was established on June 14, 1916 by a proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson.

The thirteen stripes (red and white) of the American flag represent the 13 colonies and the 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states.  There are a few flag rules every American should know.  Never let the American flag touch the ground, out of respect for its symbolism.  Fly it only during daylight, and if at night, only if illuminated. Never fly another flag above the American flag.  Finally, when your flag is old and tattered, do not continue to fly it.  Replace it and burn the old flag, or give it to a member of the Knights of Columbus in your community, and they will safely burn it for you.


#Stuart,# Florida, #houses, #homes, #JensenBeach, #Jupiter, #SewallsPoint, #HobeSound, #Martin,  #AmericanPride, FlagDay, #OldGlory, Paradise

Visit us at www.StuartRealTeam.com

Sectrets for Home Sellers and Buyers

Many of you know that Bob and I are Realtors (R), but did you know thatweI can help you buy or sell a house, be it in NJ, Florida, California, or almost anywhere in the world? Through our network, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, we can connect you with a quality realtor. Don't leave your largest investment to chance. Let us help you!

Many buyers are under the misimpression that they can save money by searching for a house on their own.  This is NOT true.  First, let me make it very clear that buyers do not pay any real estate fees when Bob and I  work with them to buy a house.  Not only can we save you time (and isn't your time worth money?) but we are expert negotiators who know this market.  There are about 1400 homes currently available in Martin County alone, yet only about 3 might meet your needs.  Do you really want to search through that haystack for your needle? And when you find it, don't you want an expert to negotiate for you?  We both have a strong background in negotiating, we understand the market and we have a strategy for your negotiation.  So don't try to go it alone.  Let a professional help you.


7937 SE Sequoia

To see more, go to www.StuartRealTeam.com

#Stuart, #Florida, #houses,# homes, #Jensen Beach, #Jupiter, # Sewall's Point, #Martin, #Paradise, #Hobe Sound, #beach


Spotlight on Sewall's Point

Sewall’s Point, Florida is a beautiful small town in Martin County, with a population of about 2000 people.  A peninsula town located a little over two hours southeast of Disneyworld between the St. Lucie River and the Indian River Lagoon, Sewall’s Point has some of the prettiest waterfront property you’ll ever find, just a stone’s throw to the ocean by boat.

Sewall’s Point has all of the charm of a small town, including an A-rated school system. It was first settled by Captain Henry Sewall and his wife in 1899. The town was chartered in 1957. Sewall’s Point takes pride in its history, and you’ll find historical markers in High Point, Indialucie and Town Park.

There are great restaurants and shopping providing a great place to meet with friends or clients for lunch.  Whether it’s Frances Langford’s Dolphin Bar, Prawnbrokers or Renato’s, you’re sure to enjoy good food along with good company.  Neighbors are very friendly, and you’ll often see people walking running, or jogging on the bridges (some with jog-strollers in tow).  In fact, one of my favorite lunch time activities is walking the bridge over to Hutchinson Island.  With its nice incline, not only does it provide a healthy workout, but a beautiful view as well

If you are thinking of buying or selling a home in Sewall’s Point, there is something for everyone, with 58 houses on the market today at prices ranging from the low $300’s to over $7 Million.  New residents can meet new people at the many town events held each year, from the upcoming July 4th Bicycle Parade and Family Party, Halloween festivities, the Winter Holiday Open House, the Spring Eggstravaganza or Movies under the Stars.  The newly created Marathon and Half-Marathon of the Treasure Coast route took runners through Sewall’s Point. The Town Commons Park, located just across from my office at Premier Realty Group, has a playground with lovely water views and a gazebo that residents can reserve for parties.

My view of the Indian River as I walked over the Bridge towards Hutchinson Island one day during my lunch break.

My view of the indian River as I walked towards Hutchinson Island during my lunch break

#WhatAView, #Paradise, #SewallsPoint, #MartinCounty, #Paradise, #WaterfrontProperty



Hobe Sound Florida Named Top US Beach Town

Are you a beach lover looking for the perfect place to live?  Realty Trac selected Hobe Sound, Florida as the top beach town in the United States for 2014.  Hobe Sound is located in Martin County, about a half hour north of West Palm Beach and about two and a half hours southeast of Disney. The “top beach town” rating was based on four factors:  home values, air quality, weather and crime rates.

While one of the factors making it a top beach town is affordability, Hobe Sound it not limited to “affordable” houses.  Of the 326 homes listed today, there are houses of every type in every price range—from $33,000 manufactured homes to a $2.95 million five-bedroom home in a gated golf community.  Just a bicycle ride down the road is Jupiter Island, home (or former home) to some famous celebrities including Michael Jordon, Tiger Woods, Celine Dion, Alan Jackson and Kid Rock.

"Buying near the beach is one of the best ways to ensure a property will appreciate in value," said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. "Whether buying for retirement, a vacation home or a primary residence, homes located in quality beach towns benefit from virtually unlimited demand and a finite supply of land to build on."

In addition to the beautiful waterfront properties and Hobe Sound is a quiet town with an A+ crime rating (reported by Realty Trac and based on FBI data). It is part of the A-rated Martin County School system—one of the best, if not the best, in the state.  Even if your kids are past school age, school ratings affect property values and Martin County’s good schools have a positive effect.

Our beaches are beautiful in Martin County and we have the weather to help you enjoy it.  Hobe Sound boasts an average temperature of 76 degrees and 64 percent sunny days.   Air quality in this beach town is almost perfect where 98 percent of our days have good air quality. Is it any wonder we Floridians consider this paradise?

Hobe Sound Beach


#LivingInParadise, #TopBeachTowns, #HobeSound

The Land of the Free Because of the Brave

To me, Memorial Day is so much more than just the start of summer. It is a solemn day of reflection and gratitude to the brave men and women who gave their lives to protect our freedom.  Fortunately, I live in a town that recognizes the meaning and importance of this day.  Like every year, there is a parade and memorial ceremony downtown in Memorial Park.  This year’s Grand Marshal parade was World War II veteran Daniel R. Walker, Sr.

Sponsored by the Veterans Council of Martin County, the traditional Memorial Day Services began with a parade lead by veterans and veteran service organizations followed by various groups from the community. A helicopter flyover was another highlight of the parade.

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and began as a memorial day for Civil War Veterans.  It’s interesting to note that this holiday was started in the south, but the day was not limited to remembering Confederate Soldiers who perished during the Civil War, but rather the fallen Union and Confederate soldiers alike.   It is now known as Memorial Day and officially remembers those who have died in defense of our nation. Memorial Day now encompasses all national conflicts of war, including WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf Wars. It is proper to fly the American flag at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, and at full-staff until sunset, when the flag should be taken down unless it is illuminated.


Musings on Mother's Day

Mother’s Day doesn’t go by without my thinking of the gift my Mother gave me by bringing me into this world.  I am her fifth child and some people might have stopped after the first four.  And sadly, she became very ill soon after my birth and passed away just after my second birthday.  So, yes, I am especially grateful to be here.


Now that I am an adult with children of my own, I celebrate Mother’s Day from different angles.  I look back on Mother’s Days past.  I remember the handmade cards and gifts, the homemade breakfasts and the sweet little sometimes toothless smiles. I still have those gifts and cards, although the toothless gaps have filled in and those teeth have been straightened to perfect smiles.   I remember taking our youngest to church one year in particular where all of the mothers received a flower.  Our oldest daughter has two boys of her own, so in addition to celebrating Mother’s Day as a grandmother, I have had the wonderful opportunity celebrate her as a young mother.  Our youngest daughter just graduated from college and is coming home for Mother’s day for the first time in 4 years.  She and my husband will spoil me and hopefully I’ll get to steal my grandsons away from their mother for a little Facetime.  I’m a happy mama.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish every mom a happy Mother’s Day.  Whether your children are with you, far away or in heaven, this day is all about celebrating the wonderful gifts we have been given in the form of our children and our motherhood.  Happy Mother’s Day!

Celebration Ideas for Mother's Day in Florida Paradise

Everyone wants to spoil Mom on Mother’s day and there are opportunities aboundin Martin County to do so.  Some restaurants even offer a free meal for mom. Take Mom to Tropical Smoothie where she’ll get a free lunch with the purchase of your lunch.   If you take Mom to Carrabba’s Italian Grill, you’ll receive a $10 coupon card for a future visit. You can treat mom to a Surf and Turf entrée at Duffy’s for only $17.99. First Watch is offering Mom a box of chocolates with the purchase of breakfast. Tijuana Flats will give mom a free meal with the purchase of another meal.  Go online to get a coupon for Stevie B’s, where mom can eat all she wants (including pizza dessert!) with the purchase of a buffet meal.  Mom will love a Teavana Oprah Chai latte with the purchase of the same from Starbucks.

If you want brunch on the water, Shuckers offers brunch on the ocean, or Waterway Café has a champagne brunch for $17.95.  If you haven’t done gotten Mom a gift yet, TJ Maxx opens at 10 AM on Mother’s Day, and there are many Mother’s Day gift ideas right up front.  If you are a bargain hunter, walk to the back of the store where you may find the perfect gift on clearance.

Of course, Mother’s Day doesn’t require that you spend a cent, just that you show mom some attention and love.  The beach is free and it looks like it’s going to be a beautiful partly sunny day in the mid-eighties.  Pack a lunch and you can whisk mom off to paradise. Or just let mom stay home and sleep in while you surprise her with breakfast and a homemade card.  You know mom—whatever you do, she’ll love it.


Real Estate Update

It’s May in Florida and it couldn’t be prettier.  Time for a real estate update from Team Castellano

Have you seen “Premier Insiders”  Martin County Real Estate report ?  If you did not receive a copy of the report, click here.  This report gives you information on the current real estate market, where we think this market is going and what that means to you. We hope you will find it helpful.

Have you seen our completely updated website?  We are so excited to share it with you!  Please check it out at www.StuartRealTeam.com and let us know what you think. If you are one of the people who loves to search for listings online, we’ve got some neat listings of our own, plus the ability to search the very same data base that realtors use for searches.  This gives you access to the most up to date and accurate listings available.

Have you heard about our Give Back program? We have been very busy assisting our clients in finding the perfect home, marketing homes and just plain closing on sales.  We have donated $2,000 already in 2014 alone through our giveback program.  Don’t remember how the giveback program works?  Give us a call (or check out the Giving Back tab on our website and we’ll give you all the details.


Attention Bunny Lovers

 Anyone who knows Bob and me knows that we support animal rescue and adoption.  If you are a rabbit lover, have we got the event for you.  The Humane Society of the Treasure coast (www.hstc1.org) is organizing Bunfest 2014, “a day all about rabbits and the people who love them.” Join us on Saturday, May 31 from 10 AM to 4 PM at the Martin County Fairgrounds for educational seminars and bunny themed and related activities.

Seminars include “Basic Bunny Care,” “Basic Rabbit Emergency Care,” and “The Organized Bunny Home and Shelter Organization.” There will also be a rabbit spa, bunny playground, Bunny Glamor Shots, Arts & Crafts, Live DJ, Rainbow Bridge Memorial Wall, Giveaways and Raffles.  If you are looking for a bunny to adopt, you are in luck.  Bunnies and other “critters” will be available for adoption.

All this, and the cost is only $2.

For more information click here.


The Best Pizza in Martin County

Have you noticed how many of my posts are about food?  It's no coincidence:  there are so many great places to eat here in Martin County. For this reason, I just can't pick one favorite pizza place. Having moved here from New Jersey thirteen years ago, I'm pretty fussy about my pizza.  But try as I might to pick my very favorite, I can only narrow it down to three.

One of my favorites is La Forchetta.  This adorable Italian restaurant is run by two sisters.  Pizza is in their blood, as their parents were the original owners and chefs at La Borgatta in Palm City.  Dad still makes the pizza, and always has a friendly word for everyone when they stop by to pick up a pizza.  And what delicious pizza it is.  Thin crusted, perfectly seasoned sauce and the perfect amount of cheese.  It's almost like being back in New Jersey--or maybe Italy?  In addition to great pizza, their dinners are authentic. Bob's favorite is the calamari sautéed with peppers.  The soup of the day is always homemade and delicious.  Be sure to make a reservation, because the dining room seating is limited and it fills up every weekend.  For reservations or menu, go to http://www.laforchetta.net/.

Another favorite pizza place is Brooklyn Joe's.  It's located between my home and office, so I get there a little more often.  This is authentic, New York, thin-crusted pizza. As you fold it, New York style, and take your first bite, you will feel like you're back in the city.  The crust is perfectly cooked with those wonderful air bubbles.  The cheese has just that little bit of grease that makes it tase so good and the sauce compliments it perfectly.  I must confess that I love the pizza so much, I've never tried anything else on menu.  They even have a neat pizza challenge that Bob vows to take--as soon as he drafts, er, finds the perfect pizza-eating partner.  For more information, go to http://www.brooklynjoespizzeria.com/.

We can't talk about pizza without mentioning our third favorite, Anthony's Coal Fire.  In addition to delicious, thin crusted, well-done pizza, Bob is a huge fan of their chicken wings.  Coal-fire roasted on a bed onions and served with focaccia bread, this is a delicious and healthy alternative to fried chicken wings. They've also got some great lunch specials, from pizza to sandwiches.  The manager Joe and the entire staff is so friendly, stop in and see them or visit their website to see the menu and locations. http://acfp.com.


A Neat Place in Stuart: Two Olive Trees

One of the things I love about living in Stuart is the small town feel combined with the convenience of living in a city.  While chains and franchises have their benefits, I love the funky little stores and restaurants unique to the area.

A welcome new addition to Stuart is Two Olive Trees.  Located in Regency Plaza, The Olive Pit is a chef’s dream, but anyone who has ever turned on The Food Network will appreciate it. This delightful store features a variety of incredible olive oils, balsamic vinegars, spices, bruschetta, pesto, salts, jams and chocolates.  But the real stars of the store are the olive oils and balsamic vinegars.  There are specialty infused and fused olive oils like Tuscan Herb and Milanese Gremololata, as well as extra fresh virgin olive oils crushed in the autumn of 2012.

During a recent visit I couldn’t leave without purchasing some delicious Wild Mushroom and Sage Infused Olive Oil.  My wife’s favorite is the Blood Orange olive oil, which she enjoys in dressings, drizzled over fish or even as a breakfast treat with some crusty bread.  The olive oils and balsamic vinegars are stored and displayed in casks, inviting you to sample the oil.  With so many incredible options, selecting a favorite is difficult, but when you do, the helpful staff will then bottle it up for you in the quantity of your choosing.

You don’t need to be a gourmet chef to love and appreciate Two Olive Trees because the staff is not only helpful and friendly, but extremely knowledgeable as well.  Kaelyn offered suggestions of pairings, such as Eureka Lemon Fused Olive Oil (whole lemons cold pressed with olives) with Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, and cooking suggestions like Herbs de Provence Olive Oil with chicken.

You can check out Two Olive Trees at http://www.2olivetrees.org/ but hey, you live in Stuart, so stop in and enjoy the experience first hand.  And if you don’t live in Stuart—you might find The Olive Pit (combined with our perfect weather) worth a trip.

Beach Baby

One of the advantages of living in Stuart is the proximity to the beach (or the shore, as our northern friends and visitors like to call it).  From Jupiter Beach Park, to Hobe Sound Beach, to Stuart Beach to the many beaches on Hutchinson Island, there are so many wonderful beaches that it’s hard to choose a favorite.

Hobe Sound Beach is lovely, has lifeguards and ample weekend parking at the nearby town hall parking lot. Jupiter Beach is very dog friendly, with a large area where dogs can frolic leash free.  Stuart Beach has great parking and a beachside food stand, is conveniently located on Hutchinson Island new the Elliott Museum and the Florida Oceanographic and has a playground for the kids.  With many miles of sand and surf along Hutchinson Island, there are numerous little beaches just off NE Ocean Boulevard.  (These beaches do not have lifeguards, but if you’re just planning on a day soaking up the sun, you will feel like you have your own private beach.) Of course, parking is free and there is no beach badge required.

While all of these beaches are incredible and I love spending a day at any one of them, my very favorite beach is Bathtub beach.  Located on the south end of MacArthur Boulevard, Bathtub Beach is my favorite.  What makes it unique is the reef just offshore of the beach.  At low tide, this results in a bathtub, perfect for little ones. For those who love waves, those are available as well.  At high tide, you’ve got a reef for snorkeling walking distance from the shore.  Do not walk on the reef, though, this would damage this wonderful ecostructure which attracts beautiful fish to the area. Lifeguards are on duty during regular hours.  The beach is newly reopened and I can’t wait to pay it a visit.

If you’re planning on buying a home in Stuart for seasonal or year round use, you’re sure to love and appreciate Bathtub Beach as well as the many other beaches from Palm Beach to St. Lucie County.   We’re located in the gulf stream, which gives the ocean a pleasant, warm temperature all year.  One you plant your feet  in the sand, you may never want to leave.


Tomorow is Taco Tuesday!

If you are a fan of authentic Mexican food, I am going to let you in on a secret.  I have discovered the best Mexican restaurant that you will ever visit.  No, it’s not flashy and pricey like those television start restaurants.  What it is is a gem diamond in the rough, a gem right here in Stuart.

Mi Cabana is located on Dixie Highway in Stuart. It’s a family-run business with mom cooking in the back and her two sons, Adona and Juan waiting tables.  The atmosphere is casual and everyone is friendly.  But the food is what sets Mi Cabana apart.

After greeting you warmly and taking your drink order of a soft drink, beer or wine, Adona or Juan will bring you some homemade salsa and chips. Flavored with cilantro and just the right amount of kick, you’ll know you’re in for a treat after your crunchy, fresh, flavorful bite.  I always order some guacamole to go with the chips.   Do I have to tell you that it’s homemade and delicious?

Next, on to the main course.  There are so many options--from chimichangas to chile rellanos to tamales--it’s hard to choose.  But choose I do and my favorite generally wins out:  the al pastor taco on a soft corn tortilla.  The pork is tender and seasoned perfectly.  The corn tortilla is unbelievable:  freshly prepared, it will make you wonder how they call those other things you’ve eaten tortillas.  While the al pastor is my favorite, these tacos can be prepared with chicken, ground or shredded beef or steak. Incredible as these tacos are, it gets even better because every Tuesday at lunch, these handheld pieces of culinary bliss cost only $1 each.  At about 4 inches in length, they’re a little smaller than a fast food taco, but 3-4 tacos will leave the average eater feeling more than satisfied.   And the taste will make you forget any fast food taco you’ve even eaten.

The restaurant is open from 10 AM to 9 PM Monday to Sunday. Traditional Mexican-style breakfast is available in the morning, as well at eggs, omelets, French toast and pancakes.  For food truck lovers, you can often find the Mi Cabana food truck near Nautical But Nice and Bennet Auto Supply.

So, if you’re in the mood for a delicious yet casual meal, if you’re more interest in eating the best food than being seen at the trendiest place, you’ve got to get over to Mi Cabana.  You’ll thank me.

Bob and Maryellen Castellano
Mobile: 772-486-6309
Mobile: 772-285-3047
eMail: Contact

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