How to: Do Your Laundry

The first time I washed my own clothes was a disaster. I absent mindedly threw in a pair of blue Soffe shorts in with my white under things.  What resulted was the ugliest grey color I have ever seen.  In order to keep from making the same mistake, I would like to give you a few pointers about how to do laundry.
 

1)      ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS sort your laundry. Generally people sort them like this:

  1. Blacks
  2. Whites
  3. Colors

Don't let this be you!

You can break it down into further categories if you so choose, like “dryer only colors” or “hang-dry blacks”, but you must respect the basic three categories to avoid catastrophic color calamity.

2)      Make sure you are using laundry detergent. I have seen people get it confused with fabric softener.

3)      Don’t use too much laundry detergent. In fact, you can get your clothes clean with less than the recommended capfuls, and it eliminates the greasy film that detergent can sometimes leave.

4)      Don’t stuff the washing machine. Clothes, towels, sheets, etc. should sit loosely in the tub and shouldn’t go all the way to the top.

5)      Don’t put anything delicate or anything you would be upset if it shrunk in the dryer.

6)      Use a dryer sheet to eliminate static electricity.

Hope these tips help laundry day go a little smoother!

À la prochain,
Kim

How to: Change Your A/C Filter

Don't let this be you! Ick!

With the warmer months approaching, we are going to start running the A/C in our apartments.  So, I thought we should discuss the maintenance/changing of air filters.

For Window Units:

  1. Take the filter out of the window unit.
  2. Turn the filter so that the debris side is facing away from the water. Run it under water and the dust should push right off.  (The mighty Quinn, head of maintenance, recommends using the bathtub to do this chore.)
  3. Let it air dry completely and replace back in the unit.

For Central Units

  1. Depending on your unit, you will need to find the location of the A/C unit.  For some it is in the mechanical closet in the actual A/C unit.  In others, it is behind the grate in your hallway.  If you can’t locate the filter in your hallway, then it is in your kitchen.
  2. Once the filter is located, you will need to pull out the filter.  In some units there will be threaded knobs you will have to unscrew, but it is pretty much self-explanatory.
  3. Pull out the filter and determine the size.  Go buy a new one.* Wal-Mart has the biggest selection of filter sizes and brands. You might want to buy in bulk because…
  4. You will need to replace the filter every 30 days.  Replacing your air filter every 30 days is important because…
    1. It improves air quality in your apartment by removing dust and allergens.
    2. It reduces the amount of energy needed to cool your apartment by improving the unit’s efficiency.

If you want more information, there are tons of videos on you tube about changing an A/C filter, and as always, if you can’t locate the unit, we will be happy to help you!

À la prochain,

Kim

*If you live in the 300 and 400 building of Windsor Hill, then you are lucky! The filters in your units are a weird size and only we can order them.  Let us know and we will provide them so you can replace them.

Thunderstorm and Tornado Safety

When I was in undergrad, my friend and I had a tornado plan: Since our apartment was so close to the stadium, the spirit of Bear Bryant would keep the stadium safe and by extension our apartment. NOT the best plan.

With the spring weather period approaching, I thought we should discuss issues associated with severe thunderstorms and tornados so you can make an informed and APPROPRIATE severe weather plan.  Continue reading

Recipes-Pasta Bake

Now that your kitchen is fully stocked with the cooking essentials (Psst…if you don’t know what I’m talking about read this post on stocking your kitchen), we should talk recipes.  One of the staples of my cooking repertoire is the pasta bake. It’s like a cross between a pasta dish, a twice-baked potato, and gumbo!! If you are looking at me like I’m crazy, I’ll explain.  The base of the dish is pasta and marinara sauce.  The comparison to a twice-baked potato comes from the fact that you cook all the ingredients then combine them and bake them to subtly meld the flavors.  Finally, I call it a pasta gumbo because like a good Cajun gumbo you take the base ingredients of pasta and marinara, then throw whatever else you have or want into it. 

I like this recipe because it’s easy, cheap, and still tasty re-heated.  You can have a meat extravaganza or make it vegetarian.  You can prepare it the night before and you don’t have to measure anything!  Basically, it’s the Swiss Army Knife of my recipe book.

The following recipe should be taken like the Pirate Code as it’s really a set of guidelines that you are free to modify to suit your particular tastes. Bon appétit!

Must have:

  1. Pasta such as ziti, penne, rotini, etc. Don’t use spaghetti or fetuccine. It’s a disaster in a pasta bake.
  2. Marinara  Sauce of your choice

Optional Choices:

  1. Meat of your choice
  2. Vegetables of your Choice (I really like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots)
  3. Onion
  4. Garlic
  5. Cheese
  6. Anything else you deem appropriate

Steps:

  1. Boil water for pasta while chopping your vegetables. If you are using peppers or onions, you can slice, dice or julienne. Your choice.
  2. Cook your meat/sauté onions and garlic/steam vegetables while boiling pasta
  3. When done, dump everything into your mixing bowl and blend with the amount of pasta sauce you deem sufficient.
  4. Grease your casserole dish with oil or cooking spray. If you have neither, you don’t have to grease your casserole, just know cleaning will be a royal pain.
  5. Put in the oven on 350° for 30 minutes
  6. After 30 minutes pull out of the oven, top with cheese, put back in oven until cheese melts.
  7. Let cool for 15 minutes, then spoon and serve. Parmesan makes a great addition!

Not actually my pasta bake. I made one for photos for this post, but I was so hungry I forgot to take pictures when it came out of the oven!

For real cooking lessons watch this you tube video!

Winter Weather Safety

Our favorite part about winter weather--Frosty!

Snow! Since winter weather is such a rare occurrence in Alabama, we get excited about the potential for snowball fights, and forget that winter weather can be very dangerous.  While a winter storm can include snow, it also includes ice, black ice, and freezing temperatures.  By knowing the potential dangers and how to deal with them, you can have fun and stay safe. Continue reading

How to: Re-set a Breaker

This is an example of what a typical breaker box will look like.

For the first in our series of how-to, we are going to teach you how to re-set a breaker.

  1. Find the breaker box. If you don’t know where it is, call us and ask us.
  2. Determine if it is the GFI breaker or GFI receptacle. (Receptacles are located on the wall in all Windsor Hill bathrooms).
  3. If not, locate the switch that is in the off position (they will be labeled) or that is partially popped out of place.
  4. Put switch in off position then back in on position.
  5. This is an example of a typical GFI receptacle. The red button is the reset button.

    If that doesn’t work, then call us and report the problem. Please mention that you have reset the breaker, but ONLY IF, you have indeed done it.

That’s it! Now you know how to re-set that breaker and will be able to instantly fix those small  electrical problems.

*Our head of maintenance extraordinaire, Quinn Stephens,  will be consulting on the how-to posts, so you know you are getting quality information!

Home Matters: Safety

Here is a dreaded question that makes just about every person in the property management world shake their head: “Is it a safe place to live?”  It is a great question.  It is a needed question.  It is a question that professionals wish they could confidently and accurately address.  However, it is a question that every person must answer for themselves because only you know when you feel safe.  As you are considering a place to move into, whether you are renting or just squatting with a good friend, there are some steps you can take to reassure yourself you have chosen wisely.

  1. Call the police department and ask for a record of the activity in the area you are contemplating moving to.  They will give you a lengthy report that you will need to assess for yourself.  You may ask for another record for a neighborhood/area different from your first choice to give you a comparison.  But here too, you will need to make your own determination.
  2. While you are talking to the police, ask them what type of patrol they routinely conduct in your area.  While crime is a movable target and our servicemen have to drop regular beats to take care of emergencies, there is a planned schedule they work from in the quiet times.
  3. Visit the website Family Watchdog to see if there is a registered sex offender in the area.  That may not be an issue for you, but you have the legal right to know.
  4. Ask, ask, ask the neighbors their opinion of what it is like living in that area!  They know better than anyone!!
  5. Visit your place at night.  What type of street lighting is available?  What type of parking lot lighting?  What type of neighborhood activity happens?
  6. Understand that steps of prevention do not guarantee safety.  For example, gated communities may deter crime, they do not prevent crime.  You may be careful to always close the gate behind you, but there may be another resident who is very comfortable leaving the gate propped open for their buddy to come in later that evening.  Know that living in community brings the challenge of people’s differing interpretation of what is “right”.
  7. Check your own locks regularly for proper function-the locks on your doors and windows. Before you rent, check the locks that are available and be sure you think they seem secure.  Consider where you feel the most vulnerable in your home and spend some time securing that area.  You be in control of your feelings of safety.  And as silly as this sounds, lock your doors!  It’s a habit that you will be glad you formed.
  8. Establish your own routine for safety.  The Crimson Choice program at the University of Alabama encourages students as well as townspeople to cultivate an awareness of their surroundings before they walk from their car to their home or store.  Visit their website for some more of their suggestions.
  9. Consider joining or establishing a Neighborhood Watch Program.  It’s a great way to know the people who live around you and be on the offense rather than the defense.  If there is not a program already in place where you live, click here to get more information. Or call the Tuscaloosa Police Department at (205) 349-2121.

Feeling safe in our homes is important but only we can determine what that is like. With proactive steps we can make certain we have done what we know to ensure safety.  It is a responsibility you should take because your Home Matters.

Fleta*

*This post is the first from guest columnist Mrs. Fleta Edwards, Vice-President and Realtor for H.A. Edwards. We are pleased that she will bringing her expertise to our rental blog.