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Hurricane Nicole

Whilst the brunt of this storm was always predicted to hither East coast here, in Central Florida, we were still on stand-by for some ugly weather. We were out in the days running up to the storm doing some hurricane preparations for clients. Simply bringing in furniture, checking windows and doors are locked down, sand-bagging garages etc. This only usually takes an hour so it’s a small price to pay for a little piece of mind. Of course no one can predict what will happen and that’s why our clients like to order a quick Home Inspection once the storm has passed to double check everything is ok (and if we’ve brought furniture inside we will obviously put that back if requested).

The storm seems to have produced only minimal damage from what we have seen and all our clients escaped unharmed! Until next hurricane season folks!

Portillo’s

Hot Dogs – Beef Burgers – Salads

Portillo’s has been a firm family favorite since we re-located here many years back. It is set up to be the quintessential Chicago diner. Until recently we had to travel to Brandon to sample the menu which made it a once in a blue moon kinda place and so not worthy of reviewing. However a new store has opened on 7715 Palm Parkway, Orlando FL 32836 and another is due to open in the heart of the tourist district on the 192..so we thought it was time to let you all know what we think!

Portillo’s is known for Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches, chopped salad, cheese fries, homemade chocolate cake, and chocolate cake shake. The Italian beef is slow-roasted for four hours, thinly sliced, and served on freshly baked French bread. Then, it’s dipped in hot gravy made with homemade blend of seasonings. If you like a soggy sandwich then you will love this – me, I’m not a fan to be honest.

The diners are clean and have a sense of theatre about them. It’s a walk up self serve style counter but the staff are in ‘character’ and you can see the order cooks hard at work. Once you have your order placed, wait in line and your order will get yelled out by one of the staff like a bingo caller! Seating is first come first served so if you have a large party find your seating before you queue to place an order otherwise you might be walking around holding your food!

Whilst I’m not a fan of the soggy sandwich option I can say that the chocolate cake is super moist (one piece isn’t enough though) and the chocolate cake milkshake (yes you read it correctly) is awesome according to my kids.

The burger though…. their charbroiled double burger is my top pick. I’ve long been a fan of Five Guys burgers and it’s been my No1 favorite for years. Recently though, the more I’ve tried, the Portillo’s burger the better it gets and I can now declare it my No1 favorite burger in Florida! It’s not over complicated – just a soft bun with simple lettuce, onion and tomato added. That’s all that’s needed because the burgers themselves are the star. They are flame grilled and super tasty. Whilst I still love a Five Guys burger this just goes to show you don’t need lots of toppings and sauces to have a winner. Five Guys fries are nothing short of superb though and Portillo’s, whilst crinkle cut, can’t compete.

Editors Note : Five Guys is opening a new restaurant on I27, just a short distance from Portillo’s on the 192, so my drive home is going to become calorific!!

Value
Location
Quality

Hurricane Ian

We are pleased to say that Hurricane Ian did little to no damage to any of our homeowners properties. Whilst others in Florida were definitely not so lucky we managed to escape the worst of the flooding and wind damage.

We did get call outs to hurricane prep some properties and this helped those owners immensely. What can you do to limit damage you’re wondering? Well here is a small list of basic precautions you can take…

If the property is empty…

  • Bring in pool chairs or throw the plastic ones in the pool!
  • Drain a foot of water from the pool and turn the system off
  • If the pool doesn’t have chairs in it – add a gallon of bleach (rains can wash a lot of pollen etc into a pool so give it a kick start on recovery)
  • Lock irrigation / meter boxes
  • Use sandbags at the base of doors and garages – not just for flood but also to stop the wind getting under them
  • Shut blinds and curtains if you have them to prevent glass blowing in should the windows break
  • In flood risk areas unplug any electrical items and secure them higher up
  • Unplug any sensitive electronics (chances are power will go out)
  • Park vehicles in the garage

If someone is in the property…

  • Make sure any generators are working and gas is available
  • Pre-lay extension cords from the generator to any fridges / freezers and lights. If the power goes out in the night you don’t want to be fumbling with wires in the dark
  • Check your torches & batteries are good
  • Charge your phones and tablets

Of course there is a lot more you can do to safe guard yourself but most things are common sense. If you are a remote owner then our services are obviously invaluable at this time. Please remember though we operate on a first come first served basis!

Insurances

We are pleased to announce we have partnered with a new insurance vendor.

Pointe Insurance Inc is a local company with years of experience of securing a broad range of insurance for local Floridians.

Pointe Insurance Agency, Inc. is an Independent Insurance Agency representing many different companies for your insurance needs. They carefully select their carriers in order to provide you with the best level of service, price and coverage. As independent insurance agents, you have the ability to choose the best carrier for your insurance needs. That is the main advantage to using an independent insurance agency, they work to satisfy your needs!

For auto, homeowner, landlord, business or personal coverage we can get you connected to our representative today – just give us a call!

Welcome Baskets

Why not take advantage of one of our welcome baskets? Either as a treat for yourself or maybe a friend or relative – what better way to start a vacation than a basket of goodies waiting for you.

You decide what you want and we will create something special. Let your imagination run wild – flowers, soft toys, chocolate, Disney merchandise or novelty items. Just let us know what the occasion is and we will work with you to create something special.

Sickies Garage, Burgers & Brews

7640 W Irlo Bronson Memorial Hwy, Kissimmee, FL 34747

Billed as a North Dakota franchise Sickies has been spreading its wings and Florida finally got its own store back in 2021. Boasting 50 brews and 50 burgers on the menu we finally decided it was time to give it a try.

At the back of my mind I was thinking its going to be something like Rock n Brews or Fords Garage and from the outside it is. It’s the usual over the top American themed style restaurant. Old car memorabilia adorns the walls and everything is tool / car / garage themed. Seating is a mix of booths and tables with an obligatory bar area as well. There is some limited outside seating but its location alongside the 192 doesn’t offer the most scenic outlook.

First off you aren’t spoilt for choice it seems when it comes to burgers. However if you want a little variety you might be out of luck. Yes you might get chicken wings on the starter menu and maybe a cob salad for an entree but burgers is what this place does and little else. If you have fussy eaters in your party try elsewhere.

I ordered a burger and fries and on the menu it sounded pleasant enough. Fries come with optional seasoning – but you do have to ask for this (they won’t prompt you). Now don’t get me wrong the burger was well cooked and it tasted ok BUT it wasn’t anything spectacular. It was a simple thrown together patty with a cheese slice and some ‘special’ sauce and a strip of bacon. It wasn’t a towering gut busing burger like you would get from Teak Grill! The fries were disappointing as well – think Steak and Shake $2 fries and you won’t be far off.

Now all this I could stomach if it were Burger King prices BUT this was a $17 burger! Served on a tray, picnic style, for this much money there should have been more effort in the presentation and (strangely for America) more food! For a family of 4 budget well over $100 for a burger and a drink each and that’s before any starters or desserts. This is awful value for money for a restaurant in a mediocre location.

Value
Location
Quality

Fire Inspections

We are pleased to announce we have teamed up with a local fire safety company. Often overlooked, fire inspections are a legal requirement for rental properties. As some of our owners only rent to family and friends this might seem unnecessary but if you are filed with the county as a rental / vacation home business then you do need an annual certification. Certification isn’t costly in most cases and often its just a check of the fire extinguishers to ensure they are in goos working order. If in doubt get it done!

NEW – Hurricane Prep Service

As we enter hurricane season we start to think about getting a plan together and what we should do in the event of a major hurricane. The news is full of ideas and and for those that live here its easy for us to prepare. However what do you do as a remote owner? Who can bring in those garden items? Turn the gas off? Secure windows? That’s where we come in. If a hurricane is forecast to come though our area – don’t delay – let us get things ready. Customers will be dealt with on a strict first come first served basis under such circumstances.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to Mockingjay Services

As a property owner and property manager for many years, here in Florida I realized that there were many people who owned vacation homes that weren’t intended for rental. Owners who have their own retreat or only let family use the property don’t often require the full services that a traditional management company would offer. Such companies charge inflated monthly fees and add on fees for the simplest requests. What I needed was someone who I could rely on to do things as and when needed – so this service was born! You choose how often you use our services. Pricing is basic – you cover our milage and time and any associated material costs (fair enough). There is no monthly commitment. We don’t offer booking services so we are not interested in earning commissions. So if you need a caretaker / friend / boots on the ground – get in touch and let us take care of you and your home.

Lisa W – CEO

Trip Planning

We are adding to our services the offer to help out planning trips. During the years we have lived and worked in America we have vacationed in pretty much EVERY state! We have done 13000 mile road trips and seen most of the sights. Some cities we have visited many times and we have a unique insight into where to go and what to do (and what’s realistic to do within a timeframe).

So if you fancy doing something a little different on your next visit and you need some guidance on where to start, what tools are available or want general advice. Just ask!