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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentFebruary 8, 2013 

Make a Valentine’s-themed votive holder with newspaper and colored tissue paper.


Best for bonsai

The Sarah P. Duke Gardens holds a Create Your Own Bonsai Plant workshop from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Feb. 23. Instructor Harold Johnson will discuss bonsai styles and traditions, then you’ll learn to use techniques to shape and grow your own bonsai at home. The plant, container, materials and soil will be provided. Class cost is $100; $80 for Gardens members. Pre-registration is required.

The Gardens are at 420 Anderson St. in Durham. To learn more, call 919-668-1707 or visit

Best way to clean cast iron

Have some cast iron pots with stubborn orange rust? The Apartment Therapy blog offers these tips for restoring your pots to tip-top shape.

You will need:

• The end chunk of a potato (enough to be able to hold firmly).

• Coarse salt.

• A rusty cast iron skillet.

• A little vegetable oil (canola or olive will do).

• Gloves (optional, but recommended).

Step by step:

1 Place your rusty skillet in the sink and sprinkle a couple tablespoons of salt into it.

2 Start scrubbing the pan with the chunk of potato.

3 The salt will get dirty very quickly. Rinse periodically to gauge your progress. If rust remains, add more salt and repeat Step 2.

4 Continue to the sides, edges, bottom and handle of your pan.

5 Rinse and dry thoroughly.

6 Once dry, use a paper towel to rub a small amount of vegetable oil in the pan.

7 Keep pan over low heat for at least 30 minutes.

8 Once the pan is cool, wipe off any excess oil before storing it; if oil remains, it can turn rancid.

9 Every time you use your pan, clean it, put it on a low burner and repeat the oil and paper towel step.

View this post and other tips on keeping your pans well seasoned at

Reader’s best

Wendy Chrzan of Raleigh shares a tip for removing stubborn stains from laundry.

“My husband was noticing some kind of stain/spot on his newly-laundered cotton sweatshirts and golf shirts. Even after he tried using a spot treatment product, the stain remained noticeable. I read somewhere to pretreat the spots with Dawn dishwashing liquid. He tried it and presto! The spots are gone from the fabric. He’s happy and thinks I’m a genius.”

Designer’s best

Celebrity designer Nate Berkus offers these low-budget tips for sprucing up your home.

• The simplest is to clean your house – it costs you nothing! You can’t have a beautifully designed space if you can’t see the furniture and surfaces in your home.

• Painting takes time, it needs touch-ups, and you have to be very methodical. But the time and effort are worth it, and it isn’t particularly expensive.

• There’s something I call Moving Day, which I’ve done for the last 20 years. Look at everything in your home, then think about how you could combine things in a different way. Maybe you break up your night tables and use one in the family room; maybe the dining room sideboard becomes a console table for your television, with storage underneath. Move around what you already own.

You can find these tips and more at

Best crafts for Valentine’s Day

Grab the little ones for an afternoon of crafting courtesy of the Homemade Serenity blog at

Valentine’s Day card

The base of a celery stalk makes the perfect template for simulating a rose pattern. Take the entire stalk and cut it uniformly across so that you leave about 3 inches on the base.

Take red tempera paint, diluted just a bit with water, and place some on a plate or in a flat-bottomed bowl large enough to accommodate the stalk.

Put the cut end of the stalk in the paint and press it uniformly across the card you wish to decorate. Let dry and adorn with any messages or other decor you like.

Valentine’s-themed votive holder

You’ll need:

• A recycled glass jar (A mason or recycled pickle jar works great).

• Colored tissue paper.

• Scissors.

• Liquid starch.

• Craft brushes.

• Newspaper.

• A container to hold your liquid starch.

To make the holder:

Cover work area with newspapers. Tear white craft tissue paper into three-inch squares.

Lay a piece of tissue paper across the jar. Paint a small amount of liquid starch over the top of the tissue paper. Continue laying the white tissue paper over the glass until the entire jar is covered.

While the jar is still wet, cut small hearts out of red and pink tissue paper. You can add the hearts directly on top of the first wet white layer to help them adhere. If needed, paint on a little more liquid starch.

Add as many tissue hearts as you want and make sure to layer some of them.

Allow your votive to dry overnight. When it’s completely dry, place a small tea light inside.

Best of the tube


Beach bound with a boundless budget: After receiving a job offer he couldn’t pass up, Joey and his wife Micki, and their two girls moved from New Jersey to the Tar Heel state. They’ve been living in a rental home, but they’re eager to buy a place to call their own, preferably across the Cape Fear River in Wilmington. But even with a $1.25 million budget, this house hunt comes with some unique restrictions; Joey’s job as an anesthesiologist requires him to live within 30 minutes of the hospital. Can this family find their forever home? “House Hunters,” airs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.


Waterfall bath: A tacky bathroom with lots of mirrors becomes a retreat with a massive shower room that includes a freestanding tub and waterfall flowing behind it. A custom metal vanity is welded and topped with a recycled glass countertop and black resin sinks. Exotic wood floors warm the space along with a custom decorative radiator and romantic candle feature. “Bath Crashers,” airs at 5 p.m. Monday.

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