Top drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

CorrespondentDecember 21, 2012 

Best last-minute holiday craft

There’s still time to make a gift for friends and family. One of the most memorable Christmas gifts I received was a set of handmade swirl ornaments from my best friend, Latonya Croney. I always wondered how she made them until a Pinterest post revealed the secret. The directions were so easy that I couldn’t resist sharing it. A crafter at A Yellow Bicycle says you simply take assorted colors of Americana acrylic paint (three or four gives a nice effect) and slowly place one drop of each into the neck of a clear glass ornament. Swirl gently to achieve the desired effect and cover all of the bulb’s interior. Prop the ornaments upright on a few napkins for an hour or so to let the colors settle. Voila! You can see a finished version of the ornaments at http://tinyurl.com/chjgjtd.

Best for stocking stuffers

A Pinterest poster offered a list of practical stocking stuffers sure to make any recipient smile. Consider tickets to a movie, concert, play or sporting event; scarves and gloves; ornaments; socks or slippers; magazine subscription; cookies; small kitchen items; picture frame (with picture in it!); iPod or cellphone accessories; batteries; card games; bath salts; calendar; gift cards; address/calendar book.

Best for breakfast

Little beats waking up to the aroma of fresh-baked cinnamon dough after a long winter’s nap. Unless that’s the aroma that greets you on Christmas morning. So why not make Christmas doubly sweet by treating your family and guests to sticky buns from the toostinkincute blog.

You’ll need:

2 small tubes refrigerator buttermilk biscuits OR 1 tube Pillsbury Grands buttermilk biscuits

3 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted

1/2 cup maple syrup

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

1/4 cup chopped almonds, optional

Directions:

Spray a fluted pan with nonstick spray. Combine the melted butter and syrup in a small bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and nuts.

Place about half of the syrup mixture in the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the brown sugar mixture.

Lay the biscuits on the bottom of the pan, overlapping edges (closely together) to form a ring. Top with remaining syrup and sugar mixtures.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool for one minute in the pan, then invert onto a serving platter and enjoy!

You can see the original entry here: http://tinyurl.com/d4fh9j4.

Seeking our reader’s best

We’re on the prowl for a fresh batch of readers’ favorite time-saving, cleaning, organizing, decorating and gardening tips. If we publish your tip, we’ll enter you in a quarterly drawing. Keep them brief, please. Send your best tips, along with your name and city to topdrawer@newsobserver.com; subject line: Best tips.

Best for oven cleaning

As you’re straightening up after holiday meals, consider this all-natural solution found on Pinterest for cleaning your oven racks.

1 Remove the racks from the oven. Put a stopper in the drain of the bathtub, then place a towel or towels at the bottom of the bathtub so the oven racks do not leave scratches or stains on the tub.

2 Fill the tub with roughly 1/2 to 1 gallon of white vinegar. Add about 2 cups of baking soda inside the tub. A fizzing reaction occurs and the liquid rises. Wait until the reaction stops.

3 Fill the rest of the tub with hot water. Soak the oven racks for one hour.

4 Scrub the racks thoroughly with a soaked sponge. Continue scrubbing until all grease, food particles and stains are removed from the racks.

5 Repeat steps 1-4 until the racks are completely clean. Then rinse the racks with tap water. Wait until the racks are completely dry or manually dry them before placing them back in the oven.

Read more at http://tinyurl.com/clh5p76.

Designer’s best

Here’s an idea for creating a festive centerpiece or for lighting an outdoor walkway. The Better Homes & Garden blog suggests getting wide, fairly low-cut clear vases and filling them one-quarter full with SnoWonder instant snow. Place a wide candle in the center and surround the base of the candle with cranberries. Set the vase on top of some festive greenery.See an example of the candle-lined walkway at http://tinyurl.com/cg7txzb.

Best keepsake

Preserve your little one’s holiday magic for years to come by making his or her Christmas list into a treasured ornament. The Savvy Living blog suggests cutting the list down to size or folding it and placing it (rolling it into a scroll thin enough to fit) in the neck of a pre-made clear ornament (found at craft shops). Make sure that the print is facing outward. You could decorate the outside of the ornament with the child’s name and year. Then when the young ones are grown, you can give the ornaments to them as a housewarming or holiday gift.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

A White House Christmas: Join Genevieve Gorder for a behind-the-scenes look at how the White House prepared for this year’s holiday season. First lady Michelle Obama talks about how each room is transformed to reflect a theme. From the official Christmas tree in the Blue Room to the gingerbread replica of the White House, watch as designers, staff and more than 100 volunteers bring Mrs. Obama’s vision to life. “White House Christmas 2012” airs at 3 p.m. Saturday. Repeats at 11 a.m. Monday.

On DIY

Retro meets modern: The Bath Crashers team transforms a small bathroom into a couple’s retreat by using space from an adjacent bedroom to create the master suite of the homeowners’ dreams. “Bath Crashers” airs at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Send news and photos to News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, NC 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service