Bugs, be Gone!

I will say one thing about our apartment complex–the maintenance guys are very attentive and quick to respond, when we place a service order through our company’s website.

For a week or so I had been seeing some straggler ants on the linoleum by the front door. I would just kill them, scan the area for their buddies, then go on my way. I even saw a stray in the bathroom a few times, but didn’t think too much of it… a nuisance, but probably just looking for moisture, as bugs tend to do.

One day, though, I killed 10 in the kitchen before work and decided to put in a service request. Living for over ten years in Temecula, which is notoriously bad with ants, has instilled a paranoia in me that once I see even one in the kitchen, nothing is safe anymore. I put in the service request and we had an appointment set for the next week.

Kitchen Unloaded

Unfortunately for us, prepping the kitchen and bathroom for the exterminator’s attention meant (dun dun dunnn) emptying every cabinet and drawer and wiping them out.

When’s the last time you emptied your whole kitchen and wiped out every cabinet? My money’s on “not recently.” You will be surprised how grungy drawers can get (yuck!) and surprised at how much stuff fits into even a small apartment kitchen:

Kitchen Unloaded

(The majority of our pile was not as picturesque as our coffee table full of dishes from above.)

Glad to get that taken care of. Doug hemmed and hawed about it, thinking what a pain it would be to empty out the whole kitchen… then again he’s never lived through a full-blown Southern California ant invasion, so really he doesn’t know what we’ve avoided. I was at work when the exterminator came, but Doug said that he was professional and quick. Yay!

My major take-aways from this experience were:

  • So glad we’re not moving after all (read: look at all that stuff!)
  • I’m glad we can call and have something like this arranged for us, unlike with a previous landlord who was very, ahem, laissez-faire with repairs, etc.
  • Well, now the inside of our cabinets are clean and kinda reorganized!
  • I still really, really like my whiteware dishes (from Crate and Barrel).

Chalk one up in the renters’ column… you don’t have to pay for things like this! Additionally, we finally got the large burner on our stove fixed (we had been cooking with three small burners) and it’s amazing how much faster a kettle boils on an appropriate sized coil! Imagine that!

Any boring but important repairs around your place lately? 

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The 5 Kitchen Tools You Need

When I thought up this post, I wanted to do an experiment. “If I could only have five kitchen tools, what would they be?” Excluding tabletop items like plates and silverware, here’s what I came up with, and my rationale.

Top 5 Kitchen Tools

  1. Every kitchen needs an 8-inch chef’s knife. This much is a given. Get a sharp one with a nice point, and you can do most of your detail-work, paring, with it as well (although paring knives are safer since they’re less unwieldy). I wholly recommend this one–my favorite feature is the hollows along the edge, which reduce the effect of food clinging to the knife after you’ve made your cut. A great chef’s knife can also be used to peel/smash garlic.
  2. If you make the investment of a good knife, you must have a cutting board to keep it in shape. The people who lived in the apartment before us just used… the kitchen counter. There are cut marks all over and it’s so awful–not to mention bad for the knife’s blade! Getting a good cutting board (wood or plastic) is very important. And never, ever use a knife on tile, glass, stone, or metal. Just don’t! If you get a large and attractive cutting board, you can also use it for tons of other things. Decor, serving tray, perched on an ottoman to make it a coffee table? All of the above.
  3. If I could only have one pot/pan, I would get a nice large sauté pan (with lid). The large surface area on the bottom can be used like a skillet (frying pan), but the high sides and lid can act as a saucepan or stockpot to make rice or even soup or chili, if you have to. This one in particular has some slope to it which makes it almost wok-like, too. Every pan has its own use, but this one is a nice, useful hybrid and can perform lots of duties in a pinch.
  4. My go-to item for stirring, flipping, everything is my bamboo spatula. If you want to cheat on this “five tools” challenge, you can grab this set, which is what I have used for years and I loooove. Bamboo holds up really nicely (I prefer it to regular light-wood spoons or turners) and will not damage nonstick pans. Overall, one should avoid using metal utensils in any pots and pans unless it’s a non-coated stainless steel pan.
  5. The sauté pan I listed above can go in the oven, but there’s just something about a rectangular, covered casserole dish that I wouldn’t want to be without. Use it for anything from casseroles to roasting meat, to brownies or cakes.

I hope this is encouraging to someone who watches the Food Network and sees the chefs using all this specialized gadgetry or walks into a kitchen store and gets glassy-eyed. You can create amazing meals at home with the most minimal of tools. Even someone with the smallest of kitchens surely has space for these… right?

But, just for fun… come back Wednesday for 5 unnecessary but awesome-to-have tools. ;) 

More Thoughts on Moving (Gripe List Edition)

As I mentioned the other day, as September approaches I’m getting antsy about the prospect of possibly moving to a new place. Spending an extended amount of time at a few of our friends’ really nice places this weekend has only compounded my desire to pack up for greener pastures! Taking into account the rager that kept me up until 4:00 Sunday morning, let’s just say that most of my thoughts this weekend have had to do with the possibility of a new place.

Time for the gripe list. If for no other reason, I’m doing this for me–so I can see it all written down in one spot. Maybe rereading it in a few weeks will tip the scales one way or another?

  • First and foremost, if nothing is done about the noisy parties, we are so out of here. It’s kinda a dealbreaker at this point. Repeated complaints from a lot of tenants have done nothing, but rumor has it “something” will be done today.
  • The paint. I don’t mind that everything is painted white, white, white. I have nothing against white paint–in fact I like the idea of a blank canvas. However, I don’t know what kind of paint they used but on frequently used or brushed-up-against places, it flakes off and leaves little white pieces all over the floor–especially the kitchen and bathroom cabinets. This is so aggravating! It looks really shabby and we’ve only been here a little over eight months.
  • The neighborhood. Not only was Doug’s bike stolen, but his truck was vandalized and the object of an attempted break-in. It got to the point that selling it became an attractive option. I don’t know why it was targeted, and it still makes my blood boil since I know it was special to him. Thankfully my dad generously gifted us a 12 year old vehicle that does not draw attention to itself and has been unscathed so far (knock on wood).
  • Wonky layout. The long and lean apartment makes it so awkward to space plan. I’ve been challenging myself to be creative but I think I’m just the kind of person who likes walls, and doors, and real divisions between rooms. At least now I know I wouldn’t do well in an urban loft type of place!

Renters, what would you do? Is it worth the hassle? Getting a new place is tempting but the physical act of moving is the worst! Weigh in! 

If you didn’t read the whole gripe list, I am not offended! If you did, please know that despite my renter’s remorse about our current place, things overall are on the up and up and I’m not letting this drag down my mood or anything. Overall these are happy days! I’m happy to be living in America’s Finest City and enjoying life!