Monthly Archives: October 2010

Boo! Scare Yourself for a Good Cause.

Looking for something scary on Halloween, but not too scary?  Atrox and Sloss too much for you?  Well, one Northport resident has an answer for your Halloween fun!  For free!

(Although a small donation to the Alabama Humane Society is greatly appreciated.) 

For more information, please see the Tuscaloosa News article!


Re-letting Your Apartment

Sometimes an occasion arises where you need to move out of a rental property before the end of your lease term.  Unfortunately, we cannot let you cancel a legally binding contract, but we have procedures in place that let you re-let the property and turn over your lease to another tenant.

First, you need to decide when you will be leaving the apartment.  Once that decision has been determined, come to our office and fill out a re-let form.  A re-let form states your intention to vacate the apartment at a certain date and put your apartment back on the rental market.  The re-let form also lets you offer any incentive (like transferring your deposit ) that you think will make your apartment more marketable.  Putting your apartment up for re-let requires a $50.00 administrative fee so make sure to bring cash, check, or money order.

Once you have declared your intention to put your apartment back on the market, you have three options for finding a new tenant.

  1. You can find a tenant yourself.  If this is your preferred option, then you need to have the new tenant come in and go through the application process. If they are approved, we will draw up a lease and you are officially out of your obligation to us.
  2. You can let us find a tenant for you.  We will advertise and show your apartment, plus handle the administrative processes. If you choose this option, you will owe us a commission equal to one month’s rent.
  3. You can do both.  While we are showing your unit, you can also search for a potential tenant.  If you end up finding the new tenant, you will owe us a commission of half a month’s rent.  However, if we find the tenant, you are still responsible for a commission equal to a full month’s rent.

There are pros and cons to each method, and I encourage you to think them through fully before making your final decision. 

Most importantly, you are still responsible for your lease until a new tenant has signed a new lease and paid the new account balance.  We at the office will make every reasonable attempt to help you secure a new tenant, but sometimes depending on the time of year or location of the property, it takes time or doesn’t happen at all.  Just keep this fact in mind.

Hope this helped clear up one of our most frequently asked questions!


Kentuck Festival of the Arts

Kentuck Festival of the Arts isn’t a hidden gem of an event in Tuscaloosa, because it is a nationally-renowned outsider and folk art festival.  I just want to draw your attention to this wonderful event and encourage you to visit this weekend either in lieu of the university’s homecoming or after it.  I have been two or three times, and it is a great pleasure. My highlights include eating some of the yummiest fair food, viewing cool art that I will one day have the money to buy, performing on one of the stages, hearing Kathryn Tucker Windham tell a story, and experiencing some great musical acts like Ruthie Foster, Feufollet, and Ralph Stanley. For more information, please go to the Kentuck Museum’s website and/or  read the Tuscaloosa News article.

À la prochain,

Stocking Your First Kitchen

Moving out of my parent’s house was a rude awakening in many ways, the least of which was the lack of Mom’s (and Granny’s) home cooked meals.  Even though they both tried to stock my kitchen with what I would need, they came from the perspective of an established home cook, not a college student on her own for the first time. So, I decided to put together this post with a list of things I found invaluable to my starter kitchen.  Please remember that while I may think I have great advice, I am still writing from my perspective.  There are probably others that think I left something off or added too much.  I just wanted to give you an idea of what worked for me and my roommates.

So, without further ado, the list…

You might know a saucepan as a pot, but if you google “pot” you won’t get many hits for cookware…   Anyways, a good saucepan is invaluable for everything to boiling water for pasta, heating up spaghetti sauce, or cooking beans.  A 2-qt. saucepan is the ideal size for just about any of your cooking needs.

Frying pan/Skillet
I think we all identify a frying pan or skillet, but the trick is to get the right one.  You definitely need to make sure that your pan is non-stick, because scraping your freshly cooked meal off the sides could potentially ruin your appetite.  A good 8 or 12 inch non-stick skillet from Wal-Mart, Target, or TJ-maxx will serve your needs perfectly. If you are going to invest in something for your kitchen, this is the one thing to splurge on.  Also, NEVER, EVER, EVER use metal on your non-stick skillet to cook or clean because you will quickly scratch and ruin your investment.

Spatula/Slotted spoon/Serving spoon
In order to cook, you will need these three basic implements.  The spatula is very important for flipping grilled cheeses or eggs, which is why my family calls it a “flipper”.  The slotted spoon lets you drain liquid, while the regular serving spoon is perfect for dipping spaghetti sauce or a casserole.  If you have the money and/or inclination, you can buy a kit that includes those utensils plus a few others like a pasta spoon and whisk.  While those tools are useful, they are by no means necessary. The important thing to remember is to go ahead and invest in either plastic or wooden tools so that you don’t ruin that nice skillet.

Mixing bowl
A good mixing bowl is invaluable to your kitchen, and it is also the cheapest to acquire. You can buy one at a store, find one at a yard sale, or swipe one from your Mom’s kitchen (with her permission, of course).  Your bowl can be metal, plastic, or glass as long as it is fairly deep.  You can buy them at a reasonable price as a set of three, but really, all you need is one decent-sized, reliable bowl.

Again, a colander is something that you can get cheaply and easily. I have found that plastic and metal (like the one pictured) work the best and are easiest to clean.

The important thing to remember about Tupperware, or plastic food storage, is to get a variety of sizes. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, and I would suggest not to if you have a habit of losing tops or whole pieces.  If you eat sandwich meat, some brands come in little containers that work great, and they’re free-ish!  Also, don’t forget that butter, cool-whip, etc. containers work well for food storage.  Getting plastic food storage can be as expensive or as cheap as you want, just make sure you have it!

 One sharp knife
What you get is up to you, but make sure you have at least one decent sharp knife. I would get a paring knife, as it is the most versatile of knifes and will allow you to do the most basic of kitchen cutting. If you don’t know what a paring knife is then please reference the enclosed picture. I have so far refrained from endorsing any particular brand, but I am going to break my rule here.  The picture is of a Kuhn Rikon knife. I got mine at TJ Maxx for about 4 dollars and it’s the best knife I have ever bought. It is dishwasher safe, has a protective covering for travel, and never gets dull. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Make sure you have a few good dish towels and rags, especially if you don’t have a dishwasher and have to hand wash everything.  If you have decent towels you can use those instead of a drying rack for hand washing.

I prefer the kind that covers my whole hand, but I am also a pansy. The flat ones are nice for keeping  hot plates, pans, etc. from scorching tables and countertops.

 Can opener
The only tip I have about a can opener is to not buy the cheapest one. It will rust and become stiff quickly and cause you much pain and suffering.

Measuring tools
If you want to get fancy and learn the difference between dry and wet measuring cups you can here: .  Honestly, the difference only matters if you want to become a serious baker.  So, you just need to make sure that you have measuring tools for ¼, 1/3, ½ , and 1 cup, plus ¼, ½, 1 teaspoon, ½ , and 1 tablespoon.  As with so much else, you can get them as expensive or cheap as you wish.

Casserole Dish
Many of the first recipes that you will attempt that don’t involve boiling pasta will require a casserole dish.  Fortunately, the best brand is also easily attainable and reasonably priced.  Again, I have tried not to endorse brands in this post, but you absolutely cannot go wrong with Pyrex.  Not only do they cook the best, but also they are virtually unbreakable.  Investing in a good 9×9 or 9×13 casserole dish will reward you with a lifetime of use.

Cookie Sheet
Everyone likes cookies, so getting a good cookie sheet is a good idea.  You can also use it to cook bread or a frozen pizza. Just make sure you get a fairly thick one to avoid burning the bottom of whatever you are baking.

Microwave and Dishwasher Safe Dishes
Think of dishes as being the window treatments of your kitchen set. They can be utterly basic and practical or as fun and trendy as you want them to be.  The important thing to remember is that they need to say microwave and dishwasher safe!

Flatware is the technical term for spoons, forks, and knives.  They are usually sold in an 8-piece place setting which means that there are 8 knives, 8 forks, 8 spoons, etc.  You can get them relatively inexpensive at a store, or you could look at yard sales and thrift stores for even cheaper ones.  There is no rule that they have to match.  Just know that you need them unless you want to eat with your hands.

Whether you get pretty decorative glasses to match your place setting or collect game day cups after a game at the stadium, make sure you have something to drink from!

Setting up my first kitchen was a lot of fun, and helped me become a pretty decent cook (although my love of eating probably helped more).  Remember there is no right or wrong way of setting up a kitchen, and you should feel free to add to or take away from this list.

 I hope you will discuss in the comments section and make your own suggestions.

 Happy Cooking!

 À la prochain,

Moundville Native American Festival

A little over ten years ago, my roommate and I decided that we needed to inject a little culture into our college existence and decided to head out to the Moundville Native American Arts Festival.  Although the festival that year wasn’t as big as we expected, we were awed by the gorgeous grounds and the majesty of the mounds. It was a beautiful day to walk around the park and enjoy nature and history.

If this year’s promotion is any indication, the festival will host a variety of cultural and historical hands-on experiences for kids and adults that will showcase the Southeastern Indian culture that built those enormous mounds.  A special emphasis will be placed on the new renovations to the museum, an effort over ten years in the making, and one that was in its infancy when my mate and I first visited the park.

I encourage everyone to go and check out the festival, museum, and park this weekend. Don’t miss an important part of Alabama’s heritage and living history!

For more information please check out the Tuscaloosa News article from October 7, 2010:

and the Moundville Archaeological Park main webpage:

À la prochain,


Connecting Utilities

Connecting your utilities is not particularly difficult, but takes a little patience and a little know-how.   Hopefully the tips in this post can help make the process easier.

A common misunderstanding is that if the utilities are on, they will just automatically send the bill to your residence.  Well, no.  You must have them transferred in your name. I cannot tell you how many times tenants have been unaware of that step and had to pay two or three months of bills at one time because they did not transfer power or water to their name. Please don’t let that be you!

If you are a student, you can go to the Off-Campus Association (OCA), and they will deal with setting up your power, water, and gas.  They are a really awesome organization because not only do they save you the time and hassle of contacting the utility companies, but they also help college students with the deposits required by each company. Here is their webaddress and you can join at their website!

With that said, if you are not a student, you should be prepared to pay deposits and connection fees for each connection.  For example, I know Tuscaloosa water requires an 80 dollar deposit and Alabama Power requires a 40 dollar connection fee.

Another way to save time and hassle is to call and set-up your service in advance. As soon as you know where you will be living and when you will be moving in, set up the transfer or connection. If you wait until August to do so, you will be one of thousands trying to do the same thing.  Calling the utility company in June or earlier allows you to beat the rush and talk with a much less harried employee.

Here is the contact info for each utility that you might need.

  1. Alabama Power
  2. Tuscaloosa Water
    (205) 349-0230
    They are very busy and short staffed, so calling earlier in the morning is less of a headache.
  3. Alagasco
    (205) 759-2501
    If gas heat is the only thing you have and you want to hold off till it starts getting cold, you should plan ahead and have the gas company come out in October.  Yes, I know we live in Alabama, but if there is a cold snap and you call us after-hours for no heat and we go out, you WILL be charged if your gas is not on! PLAN AHEAD!!!
  4. Comcast
    (205) 345-0424
    Yes, I know they have a bad rap, but remember you catch more flies with sugar than you do…
  5. AT&T
    If you live off-campus, check their website and see if you are eligible for AT&T U-verse (cable) and DSL Internet.

 I do hope all these tips will help make the connection process easier. Good Luck!

À la prochain!