Top Drawer

CorrespondentNovember 30, 2012 

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credit: Courtesy Mel Nathanson. Peggy Beasley-Rodgers works on last-minute holiday decorations to her home, the Briggs Argo Aycock House in Raleigh's Historic Oakwood neighborhood in preparation for this weekend's Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour of Homes. Peggy and her husband Raymond S. Rodgers, PH.D., have just finished an eight-year renovation for the home which was built circa 1881. The house, and other historic homes in Raleigh's Oakwood will be featured on the tour this year. Later, enjoying the morning in the home's kitchen, Raymond said, "It's like Mark Twain said about being tarred and feathered...that it's the honor of the thing! Were proud of Oakwood, and when you have company coming, you get dressed up." Oakwood

COURTESY OF MEL NATHANSON

Best way to personalize cards

Put a personal touch on holiday cards by having the kids make adorable thumbprint Christmas lights cards. The Meet the Dubiens blog says all you need is:

• Paper or cardstock cut to your desired size.

• Black Sharpie pen.

• Lots of paint colors.

1 Using the Sharpie, draw a string for the lights at an angle across the length of the paper. (Add a few loops for effect.)

2 Stamp your child’s thumbprint in different colors all along the length of the light string. Allow the prints to dry.

3 Using the Sharpie, draw a little squiggly between the thumbprint and the string line for the base of the bulb.

See the finished craft at: http://tinyurl.com/bhg8tsg

Best for wreaths

Learn how to make your own holiday wreath on Tuesday during workshops at the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. Hands-on instruction will guide you through the steps to make a hang-worthy wreath for your home. All materials will be provided, including a vast assortment of holiday greenery. You are welcome to bring any adornments you’d like. Please bring garden shears.

Workshops will be held 1-2:30 p.m.; 3-4:30 p.m. or 7-8 p.m.

Cost is $35 for members; $45 for non-members. The arboretum is at 4415 Beryl Road in Raleigh.

Register by calling 919-513-7005 or by contacting Chris Glen at chris_glenn@ncsu.edu. Learn more at http://nando.com/8n

Best charity shopping

St. Thomas More School in Chapel Hill holds its annual Christmas Holiday Shoppe 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. More than 60 artisans and crafters from North Carolina and Virginia will sell their wares. Previous years have featured an expansive selection of Yuletide decorations, candles, garden art, paper crafts, hand-sewn children’s items, handbags, pottery, quilts, wooden gifts, knitted and crocheted accessories and more. There will also be live music, a bake sale, hot lunch sales and a coffee bar. Gift wrapping is available for a donation, with proceeds benefiting Hurricane Sandy victims. All other proceeds benefit St. Thomas More School. The school is at 920 Carmichael St. Admission is free.

Best for windows

Before you light that tree or set ledge candles aglow, make sure your windows are sparkling clean. The Daily Green blog recommends a cleaning solution made by mixing 2 tablespoons of white vinegar with a gallon of water. Pour it into a spray bottle; squirt on, then scrub with newspaper for streak-free cleaning.

Reader’s best

Apex reader June Dykstra shares a tip that might be useful for people with high-efficiency washers. If you have difficulty adding bleach to front-loading washers with a pull-out drawer for detergent, bleach and fabric softener, repurpose a small liquid detergent bottle. Clean it thoroughly and add bleach to the empty container. “It’s easier to squeeze out the exact amount of bleach without spills.”(Our note: A commonly found 32-fluid-ounce bottle will work well. We found one specialty brand of laundry detergent in a 10-fluid-ounce container, which might be even better for this purpose.)

Best places for holiday spirit

Check out two holiday tours in downtown Raleigh:

• Mordecai Historic Park will be done up in all its holiday best for an open house 1-4 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 8; and 1-4 p.m. Dec. 9. A number of rooms in the Mordecai House will be decked out in period themes from Colonial to mid 20th century. The house is open to the public and tours are free. Docents will be on hand to answer any questions. Mordecai House is at 1 Mimosa St.

On Dec. 8, tour the house and grounds by lantern light to experience Christmas through the eyes of the Mordecai family and Civil War soldiers. $5, advance registration recommended.

Info: 919-857-4364 or http://tinyurl.com/bg4gay3

• Stroll through the historic Oakwood neighborhood during the annual Candlelight Tour of Homes. This year’s tour, featuring 11 private homes, takes place 1-7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9. Tickets are $20 in advance, $30 the day of the tour. Visit http://tinyurl.com/c353yhk to learn about tickets, homes and tour maps.

Designer’s best

The Reader’s Digest blog offers a simple way to add holiday flair to your sitting and entertainment areas. “Tie a bow around your throw pillows with holiday-colored ribbons, and they’ll look just like Christmas gifts! Add a rhinestone pin for an extra decorating kick.” Get more budget-friendly decorating tips at http://tinyurl.com/aq8m8lu

Seeking your holiday best

Do you have a time-saving tip to get you through the holidays? Is there a special decorating tip, cleaning ritual or go-to home-and-garden stocking stuffer for that someone special in your life? If so, we want to know. If we share your tip in Top Drawer, we’ll enter your name in a quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Send your tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “holiday best” in the subject line.

On the tube

On HGTV

From dated to glam: In this one-hour holiday special, chef Giada de Laurentiis and interior designer Sabrina Soto surprise one lucky family with a floor-to-ceiling makeover of their dated, dysfunctional kitchen and family room. De Laurentiis also shares some of her favorite holiday recipes with the family – the kind of meal they could only prepare in their beautiful new space. “Holiday Kitchen Takeover With Sabrina and Giada” airs at 8 p.m. Saturday.

On DIY

Clean and green: Aaron and Amber fixed up what they could in their new home, but the bathroom was beyond their abilities. The room was ugly, the plumbing was sketchy and the walls were a mess of torn-off wallpaper and old sizing. The Bath Crashers team comes to the rescue with a plan for a clean, modern space with a punch of color and green amenities. “Bath Crashers” airs at 5 p.m. Monday.

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