Top Drawer

CorrespondentDecember 7, 2012 

Best for cleaning baked-on foods

As you’re cleaning up messes from holiday baking, try this tip for removing baked-on or burned foods. Fill the pan or dish with water, drop in a fabric softener sheet and let it soak overnight. The food will come right off in the morning and you can clean it as you usually do.

Best for gift wrap

Have trouble keeping rolls of gift wrap from unraveling when stored? A post circulating on Pinterest offers a simple solution: Simply make a vertical cut in a cardboard toilet tissue roll, slip the open end over the gift wrap to act as a cuff, and the paper will be contained.

Best for bulbs

It’s not too late to set out bulbs for spring. The experts at Logan Trading Company in Raleigh note that we have until the end of the month to plant spring bulbs. Be sure to add bone meal or Bulb Tone to the hole when planting. Get more gardening tips at logantrd.com.

Best for poinsettias

Keep your holiday poinsettia plant looking fresh with these pointers from gardenguides.com:

1. Position the plant away from drafts and heat sources such as TVs, fireplaces and vents that can cause the leaves to drop. Their colors last longest when temperatures don’t exceed 70 degrees during the day or fall below 65 degrees at night.

2. Choose a spot where the plant can get at least six hours of indirect sunlight a day.

3. Water it when the soil feels dry to the touch – but just until water starts coming out of the drainage holes. Don’t let it stand in water because that can cause roots to rot.

4. Mist often to keep your poinsettia happy. When blooming season is over, apply a balanced fertilizer to help promote new growth.

Learn more here.

Best holiday potpourri

Capture the essence of the most wonderful time of the year with Make It Do blog’s recipe for a homemade holiday potpourri.

You’ll need:

• One whole orange or just the peel

• 1/2 cup fresh cranberries

• 1 tablespoon whole cloves

• 3 sticks of cinnamon or a small handful of cinnamon pieces

• A bit of grated nutmeg

Step by step:

Quarter the orange. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and fill it with water. Place the pan on the stove on the smallest burner, on the lowest setting. Don’t let the water evaporate. Refill water as needed.

Blogger Calli says the mixture will turn brown, but it will stay good for weeks. Visit her blog for this and other holiday tips.

Designer’s best

As cards come in, punch a hole in the top left corner of each. Use a decorative ribbon to attach the cards to a metal ring and you’ll have a neat and orderly way to keep your cards organized on a coffee table for viewing.

Best for cookie swaps

Cookie swaps are filling up our to-do lists this month. But who has time to slave over a hot stove in the midst of all the holiday revelry? Never fear, here’s an easy and delicious no-bake recipe for Oreo truffles that I turned to last year.

You’ll need:

• A package of Oreos (chocolate, mint or golden), about 36

• One 8-ounce package of cream cheese

• 16 ounces of Baker’s chocolate, melted (can be done on the stovetop or in the microwave)

Step by step:

Crumble half of the cookies and reserve 1/4 cup crumbs. Pulse remaining whole cookies with the cream cheese in a food processor until blended.

Shape into 48 one-inch balls. Dip in melted chocolate; place on waxed paper-covered rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs, colored sugars or sprinkles.

Refrigerate one hour or until firm.

(You can use dark, milk or white chocolate and an assortment of colored sugars and sprinkles to decorate the cookies.)

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Downsized dreams: Rob and Kim always dreamed of filling a big home with lots of children. When life didn’t go according to plan, they found themselves living in an oversized space, with only hopes of filling it with family. Designer Hilary and Realtor David are ready to help the couple find a home that fits their lives now. Hilary and her team will revamp the house, while David searches for smaller sized homes. Will the couple decide to love it? Or will they list it? Find out at 8 p.m. Monday.

On DIY

Mudroom makeover: Kevin and Nicole Murphy saw potential in a 1960s-era home in a great neighborhood – an imperfect flip that was almost finished when the seller ran out of money. It’s got a few quirks, but one of the problem spaces can be addressed by turning an oddly placed bedroom into a mud and laundry room. Kevin and Nicole have $10,000 to make the space usable. Will adding a mudroom add any value? Find out on “Sweat Equity” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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