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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentFebruary 22, 2013 

FOOD THANKS-STUFFING-MIXES 3 TB

The next time you prepare meatloaf, liven it up by substituting prepackaged stuffing for breadcrumbs.

JAMES F. QUINN — MCT

Best meatloaf

The next time you prepare meat loaf, liven it up by substituting prepackaged stuffing for bread crumbs. A friend taught me this trick years ago, and it’s always a hit with friends. I usually choose a savory, herb-seasoned stuffing to complement the flavors of peppers, onions, meat and sauce that I use. But you can experiment with whatever flavor you like. If you have a strong stand mixer like a Kitchen Aid, use the paddle attachment to mix the ingredients instead of your hands.

Best blog

I was recently cursing my fourth load of laundry and attempting to fold a fitted sheet neatly when I threw my hands up in exasperation and thought, “There has to be a better way.” I headed to my computer and Pinterest and searched for a solution to my fitted-sheet woes.

I stumbled upon the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking blog. It’s all about the imperfect task of everyday housekeeping when you’re too busy to put your inner Martha on display. You’ll find tips from blogger and mom-of-five Kelly on everything from cleaning small appliances and baseboards to crafts, organizing your pantry, laundry, cooking and more.

The site is heavy on pictures and candor, which is perfect for busy moms who are light on time and patience. I loved Kelly’s post on folding and organizing sheet sets. She starts with this: “Flawless is for people who have all day to spend folding sheets. Pretty is good enough for the rest of us.”

Here is her step-by-step:

Step 1: Fold the fitted sheet in half, wrong sides together. Tuck the elastic corners inside each other.

Step 2: Fold it in half again, tucking the elastic corners inside each other once more. Lay out on bed or table and smooth into a nice square or rectangle (depending on the size of your sheet).

Step 3: Fold into thirds lengthwise. (You may want to fold larger sizes into fourths instead. If so, fold the top quarter down and the bottom quarter up and then in half so that there are no exposed edges.)

Step 4: Now fold in thirds the other way.

Step 6: Fold your flat sheet to be the same size as your fitted sheet. Stack together.

She finishes by showing four ways to fold and store the sheets with a pillowcase. Check it out at http://tinyurl.com/a6j33tl.

Designer’s best

Housebeautiful.com suggests you think big when wanting a small room to appear larger.

“Small-scale furniture only makes a small bedroom look smaller. Try a high bed and a tall headboard. Your room will grow.”

Best for updating your home

Bring your dated metal knobs and fixtures up-to-date by spray-painting them with Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze. Remove the fixtures, take them outside over newspapers, cover uniformly with paint and let dry. Consider refinishing surfaces such as knobs, pulls, light fixtures, lamps, frames and bathroom fixtures. You can see an example at http://tinyurl.com/bh7yjme.

Reader’s best

As we head into spring with its requisite rain showers, Cary reader Jeri Redman shares a tip for containing soggy messes created by dripping umbrellas. Save the plastic sleeves that your News & Observer comes in and stash them in your purse or car. When caught in a downpour, you’ll now have a handy sleeve to slip your wet umbrella into. No more messes.

Seeking our readers’ best tips

We are seeking your best household tips for cleaning, organizing and gardening. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card of thanks Send your tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best for grout

Are you struggling to remove grime and dirt from bathroom and floor tiles? Give your grout a much-needed facelift with this grime-busting recipe found on the A Mum ’n the Oven blog.

Mix 7 cups water, 1/2 cup baking soda, 1/3 cup ammonia (or lemon juice) and 1/4 cup vinegar. Spray on grout, leave for about 1 hour, then scrub vigorously with a scrub brush.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Back to the beach: A former pro-surfer plans to move his family back to Oahu. Being close to the beach is a must, as is a space that can grow with the couple’s teenage children. “Hawaii Life” airs at 9:30 p.m. Sunday.

On DIY

The party yard: Jared and Jane’s backyard is a bust with its tiny concrete patio, a chain-link dog run, and an elevated deck with no connection to the yard and storage below. It all adds up to an unsightly mess. To bring this home up to the value of those around it and give the couple a place to entertain, Jared and Jane have to bring the interior charm of their home outdoors. “Sweat Equity” airs at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

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

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