Do You Know Your Neighbor? “Will” Power

As part of our ongoing series, “Do You Know Your Neighbor”, we would like to highlight Will Nevin.  Will maintains the blog Duct Tape Wedding Ring that chronicles his journey to become half a man.

You may ask what it means to become half a man, and Will is all too happy to tell you how he went from 350 lbs to his goal wieght of 175 lbs.  That’s where the title “Will” Power comes from, because he accomplished his goals by making a commitment to healthy eating and exercise.  His blog now chronicles his commitment to maintaining that healthy weight and lifestyle.

Sounds pretty unbelievable, but this author who personally know Mr. Nevin can attest that his story is entirely true. Please head over to his blog and read his witty, frank, and often poignant accounts of what it is like to lose a massive amount of weight by making a drastic life change. He is an inspiration to anyone who sets a goal to accomplish something whether it is losing weight, training for a marathon, learning to dance, keeping a clean house, climbing Mount Everest, you name it!

Say hello to Will the next time you see him!

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

Renewal FAQs

Many of you are receiving renewal notices in the mail, and we here at the office understandably have been receiving your questions.  Here are the answers for some of the more frequently asked questions.

 

 

  1. When is it due?
    The renewal letter and addendum that you receive in the mail will have the date in large, bold letters. Please look carefully.
  2. Do I have to turn something in?
    If you plan to leave at the end of your lease term, you must ABSOULTELY, POSITIVELY turn something in, or we will assume you are staying and automatically renew your lease for another year as stated in your lease.  We understand that sometimes you make an error and miss that deadline, so if you come in and apologetically say that you missed the deadline, we are happy to work with you a week or so after the deadline.If you plan on staying, we like to have the addendum back as soon as possible so we can go ahead and update your account.  You will be automatically renewed if we never hear back from you.
  3. Do I have to renew for a whole year?
    All campus properties MUST renew for a full year lease term.  The off-campus properties of Cedar Crest, Quail Valley, and Windsor Hill can be negotiated with our property managers.
  4. What if I live in a campus property, but will only stay for six months?
    If that is the case, when you send in your renewal, indicate that you want to put your apartment up for re-let. (For more information, please visit our post on re-letting).  We have a good number of students that come in January looking for campus properties, so the likelihood of getting your apartment re-let are good.
  5. Does my co-signer have to sign too?
    It is preferable that all parties sign the addendum and return, but one signature is enough.
  6. What if I want to stay, but one or more of my roommates do not?
    First, the addendum needs to be brought into the office, and both roommates need to sign and indicate who is staying and who is leaving.  Then you have one of three options.

a)      If no other roommate will be added, no further action will be required.

b)      If another roommate will be added to the lease, the new roommate needs to come into the office with an application, co-signer application if applicable, and the $35.00 application fee.  When the new roommate is approved, the lease will be re-drawn, and all parties involved will re-sign.

c)       If the remaining tenant and co-signer agree, the new roommate can be added to the account but not sign a new lease.  If you choose that option, the new roommate will not be financially or legally obligated to the unit should any problem arise.

More importantly, the two original tenants need to decide what to do with the original deposit.  The outgoing tenant can leave the deposit with written instructions signed by both parties stating what to do with the deposit at the end of the lease.  The other option would be for us to refund the deposit to the outgoing roommate, and the incoming roommate would be responsible for paying that half and bringing the account back to balance.

Hope this answers your questions and helps you make an informed decision about renewing your lease with us.

 Kate

Making Holiday and Vacation Preparations

With the Holiday break approaching (Yay!), we thought we would give you a list of things to do before you head out for your various destinations.

Remember that while this list was posted before the Christmas holidays, it is a good idea to go through this list anytime you head out for an extended period of time such as spring break, summer vacation, etc.    

General

  1. If you are going to be gone during the 1st through the 6th of the month make arrangements to pay your rent. You can pre-pay or mail a check to our office. 
  2. Many of you have noticed the abandonment clause in your lease. We expect you to be gone for the span of a week or two during the holidays, and as long as your rent is current, abandonment is not an issue.  We just need to know if you’re going to be gone for more than a month.

Safety

  1. Take all belongings such as laptops, valuable jewelry, etc.  in case of a break-in.
  2. You can set a light or two on timers to give the illusion that someone is at home.  Target or Wal-Mart have cheap ones for around 7 bucks.
  3. If you are going to be gone for an extended period of time, it is a good idea to have the post office hold your mail delivery or arrange for a friend to pick it up periodically. Don’t forget about newspaper delivery too!

Climate Control

  1. In the winter, make sure your thermostat is set to 55 degrees to ensure pipes do not burst.  Remember that if your pipes burst, they will be repaired at your cost. Be responsible and leave the heat on!
  2. In the summer, make sure you keep your thermostat at 78-80 degrees to ensure that mold and moisture do not grow while you are gone. (This actually did happen to the neighbors of some friends one summer).
  3. If you have window A/C units you can put them on timers so that you won’t have them running constantly, but only during the hottest parts of the day.

Other Things to Consider

  1. Unplug all appliances such as coffeepots and toasters to ensure that you didn’t leave them on. Just don’t unplug your refrigerator.
  2. Unplug all electronics in case of a power surge. (Also, unplugging electronics will save on vampire energy.)
  3. During the summer, the right combination of sun and rain can cause a well-manicured lawn to become a jungle quickly.  In order to prevent a tenant charge, you might want to arrange for lawn care. 
  4. I know this probably goes without saying, but please make arrangements for your pets if you are going to be gone for more than a few days.

À la prochain,                                                                                        Thanks,
Kim                                                                                                             Kate

Turning in Maintenance Requests

One of the most common calls we receive from tenants is the maintenance request.  My hope is that this post will help you turn in a maintenance issue quickly, efficiently, and painlessly.

Maintenance Issue during Office Hours

To turn in a maintenance issue during our office hours of 8-5 Monday through Friday, you need to call our main office number at 205-345-1440.  When our office staff answers the phone, simply tell them that you would like to turn in a maintenance request then give them the following information:

  1. Your name
  2. Where you live–this means the property AND the apartment number.
  3. Then give us a detailed description that tells us the problem, the location of the issue, and any steps you might have taken to solve the issue.

Here are some examples of incorrect and correct maintenance requests:

Incorrect

“My A/C doesn’t work”

Correct

“Hi, I would like to turn in a maintenance request…This is Mickey Mouse at 314 Bryant Drive…my A/C is blowing, but the air is not cold. Thank you”

Incorrect

“My faucet is dripping.” or “My faucet won’t stop running”

Correct

“Hi, I would like to turn in a maintenance request…This is Big AL of 622 Quail Valley…the bathroom sink in the hallway has a constant drip coming from the spigot.”

Or

““Hi, I would like to turn in a maintenance request…This is Lucy Ricardo of 315-D Cedar Crest Square…the bathroom sink upstairs has a steady leak coming from the pipes underneath the sink. I have placed a bowl underneath to catch the water and would appreciate your attention to the matter as soon as possible”

Finally, we do care very much about getting your issues fixed in a timely manner, but you should know that maintenance is like medical triage. We get to the list, but if an emergency comes in that gets priority.  Issues that are considered priority are busted pipes, A/C during summer and heat during winter (esp. for our elderly tenants), defrosting refrigerators, and boarding up windows after a break-in or severe weather.

Emergency Maintenance Issue

First, you need to determine if it is in fact an emergency. Leaks that might flood the apartment, problems with heating or cooling in severe temperature extremes, defrosting refrigerators, and boarding up windows after a break-in or severe weather are considered after-hour emergencies just as they are considered priorities during office hours.  If your situation fits, call the main number 345-1440, and an answering service will send out our maintenance crew. If you are unsure if a leak fits the criteria, call the answering service, and a trained technician will make the call for you. Just know that if you misrepresent the situation, you will be charged $60.00 per hour.

Thanks,

Kate

Theatre Tuscaloosa

Tuscaloosa is known as a football town, but did you know it’s also a theatre town?  Tuscaloosa is home to several wonderful theatre companies.  One of the best known is Theatre Tuscaloosa which operates in coordination with Shelton State Community College.  Theatre Tuscaloosa has a reputation for excellence dating back to the 1970’s. 

During the month of December, we would like to offer the chance at one of three pairs of tickets to Theatre Tuscaloosa’s It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. Come in to the office, pay December’s rent, and register to win! Remember, only one entry per resident.  It’s our way of saying thanks for participating n the November food drive, as well as, giving you a chance to do something out of the ordinary.

I you are not lucky enough to score a pair of tickets, you can still attend a show on a student budget. Theatre Tuscaloosa offers a “Pay What You Can” preview performance the Thursday night before opening night on Friday.  The beauty of this program is that you can donate items or pay as much as you can to see quality theatre.  Having been involved in a couple of theatre productions myself, I can attest to the fact that a Thursday night preview performance is as good as during the show’s run, and the performers appreciate a live audience.

While living here in Tuscaloosa, I encourage you to go check out a performance or audition and be a part of the show.  Check our blog, facebook, or the Theatre Tuscaloosa Website for performance and audition information.

For more information, visit the Theatre Tuscaloosa main website:

http://www.theatretusc.com

Do You Know Your Neighbor?

So often, we go through our busy lives without ever taking the time to connect to the stranger living next door to us.  Since we at H.A. Edwards believe in the importance of community and family, we would like to start a series on our blog to introduce you to some of your neighbors who are doing neat, unique, and extraordinary things. 

First up is Brian Smith.  You may have seen him around the neighborhood biking on his Catrike (Click the word to find out more information).  If you don’t know Brian, watch the following interview by Olivia Grider, research project coordinator with the Center for Ethics & Social Responsibility.  If this interview doesn’t make you want to meet this charming, witty, and intelligent young man, we don’t know what will! Way to go Brian!

If you know a neighbor that fits the profile, send us a facebook message, email at kim@haedwards.com, call at 345-1440, or drop by the office and nominate them to be profiled on our blog!

À la prochain,
Kim