Category Archives: Apartment Living

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

Advertisements

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

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.

Stocking a Kitchen: Nice to Have

A while back, I wrote about the things that I found essential to a starter kitchen here.  Those items got me through many years of basic cooking.  However, as my skills (and tastebuds) refined, I began to attempt more complicated methods and recipes.  Naturally, I found that I needed additional equipment. Below is a list of equipment that I find particularly useful in a kitchen, but that are by no means necessary.

Stock pot/Boiler
As a French major, I took a class on Louisiana and got the wild idea that I should try to make a big ‘ole pot of gumbo.  That was the first time I realized that a boiler was useful.  It is much larger than a saucepan and is also useful for chili, large quantities of pasta, or just about every Cajun/Creole dish you can cook. (See where my tastebuds lie?) If you like soups, stews, or large quantities of pasta, I highly recommend a decent boiler.

Blender/Food Processer
The blender and the food processor share many similar functionalities mainly the blending and mixing of food.  For most people, they can be used interchangeably.  However, you should know that the blender is for mixing soft foods or liquids, so if you want to make smoothies, icy beverages, and even blend soups like black bean soup, then a blender is for you.  However, if you want to chop vegetables or blend beans for hummus, then you should go with a food processor.

Coffee Maker
For me, a coffee maker is a necessity, but for others the addiction isn’t strong.  Even if you don’t drink coffee, it is nice to have a coffee maker if you entertain or have parents that enjoy a cup of coffee. A small 5 cup maker is 20 dollars or under, so it’s not a huge investment. You don’t even need to keep coffee filters. I have successfully used a double thickness of paper towels in a pinch.

Toaster/ Toaster Oven
Some people may consider a toaster a necessity, but since you can toast in the oven, I consider this a nice to have item.  I own an awesome toaster/toaster oven combo that lets me toast both sides of my bread before melting cheese on top. Genius!

Chef Knife
At some point in my culinary journey, I was introduced to Anthony Bourdain—chef, writer, tv host. Ever since I read his first book Kitchen Confidential, I was in love.  He also convinced me to learn how to use a chef’s knife with one simple statement, “Please believe me, here’s all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef’s knife, as large as will fit in your hands” (76).  He was right. Once I learned how the knife felt and worked in my hands, I only ever use my chef’s knife and occasionally my pairing knife for EVERYTHING!

Cutting board
I swear by a cutting board that is dishwasher safe.  I really don’t think it matters what material it is made of, even though there are many people that will tell you otherwise.  The only thing I recommend for cutting boards is that you keep one for cutting raw meat and another for everything else to cut down on cross-contamination.

Whisk
Wanna make the fluffiest omelette or scrambled eggs in town? Get a whisk! They are useful for mixing cake batter, brownie mix, jello, etc., but I like to use mine to make eggs that rock!

Hand mixer
You can use a whisk to mix most anything, but when you are beating the lumps out of a cake batter, a hand mixer saves your arms and shoulders a lot of trouble.  Hand mixers are also great for making fluffy mashed potatoes.

Tea kettle
If you are a regular tea drinker (hot or iced), a tea kettle really makes things easier when pouring boiling water into a pitcher or cup.  You can purchase one of the fancy electric models, but the old fashioned stove top models have always served me well.

Corkscrew
Are you a wine drinker? Do you have guests who like to drink wine? You should probably have one of these.

Stemware
Yes, you could drink wine out of the gameday cup collection in your cabinet, but if you are stocking your kitchen with non-necessities, why not go ahead and get something a little classy? A set of four wine glasses are very inexpensive.  If you are worried about breaking the stems then there are stemless models available.

Spice rack
Every cook is going to have differing opinions on what constitutes the basic spices one should have besides salt and pepper. I have found one website that lists a good list of basic spices here and another that lists spices that are necessary to cooking different ethnic cuisines here.  If it were me, I couldn’t live without my sea salt, black peppercorns, oregano, basil, cumin, bay leaves, and paprika.

Electric Skillet-“Controversial” amongst the bloggers
I say controversial amongst the bloggers because Kate uses hers to cook the pre-made pasta dishes that are perfect for a quick meal. In using the electric skillet, she eliminates the need for using the stove. I however use a skillet or wok for anything I would fry.  As with all cooking, it is up to the preferences of the chef!

Crock pot
As many of us are very busy and don’t have time to cook when we arrive home, a crockpot becomes a great way to start something in the morning before we leave and then cook it all day long until we are home.  There are tons of crock pot cookbooks on the web, in the bookstore, or in your mother’s head.  The smaller models are useful for keeping Velveeta cheese dip or little cocktail wienies hot during a party.

 Bag Clips
I have used paper clips and rubber bands in the past, but a good couple of bag clips seems to keep my chips and pretzels that much fresher. If you have a tendency to lose small items, there are clips that have magnets on the back and can live on the fridge when you’re not using them.  Just one caveat, I have gone to get one of my fridge magnet clips, only to discover that they were being used to hang something important on my fridge!

Pizza Cutter
A knife will cut a pizza, but a pizza cutter just does it better.

Hope that inspires you to expand on your kitchen and your culinary repertoire!

 À la prochain,

Kim