Top Drawer

Top Drawer: The best of everything for your home and garden

CorrespondentMay 17, 2013 


Combine hydrogen peroxide with water and lemon to create a safe and effective natural bleach alternative.


Best blog

The blogger at A Bowl Full of Lemons has her house in order. We love spending time clicking through her pages of organizing and cleaning tips, crafting projects and decor advice, and we bet you will too.

Does your room need a pop of color? Are you wondering how to decorate your front porch for summer? Or are you desperate for some fresh ideas for meal planning? Then drop by the site and look around.

Our latest visit revealed the blogger’s tips for keeping a clean house. (Hint: It’s not by hiring a maid.) The website breaks it down by room. Here are her tips for keeping the kitchen tidy. “At the end of each day, once the kids are in bed, I spend 15 minutes in the kitchen.” During that time, she:

• Loads the dishwasher (unload in the morning).

• Cleans the sink (rinse out, scrub with baking soda, spray with cleaning solution and wipe out). (Deep clean the sink once per week).

• Sprays and wipes down counters and table.

• Sets out a clean washcloth and dish towel.

You can find other tips at

Best bleach alternative

The One Good Thing By Jillee blog often focuses on natural cleaning products and homemade solutions. Jillee loves them, and she’s happy to share her successes and mishaps. One of her posts sought out a safe and effective natural bleach alternative.

You’ll need:

• 12 cups water

• 1/4 cup lemon juice

• 1 cup hydrogen peroxide

What to do:

Mix the solution together and store in an appropriately sized container. Add 2 cups to a wash load or put in a spray bottle and use as a household cleaner.

You can find this tip and dozens more at

Best improvised speakers

Turn your iPhone, iPod or similarly sized device into a tabletop speaker system by cradling it in the well of a soup or cereal bowl. The concave interior produces a magnifying effect on sounds emitted from the device. It’s certainly not loud enough to deejay a party, but I use this trick as motivating backdrop music whenever I’m cleaning or prepping food in the kitchen.

Best 2-ingredient recipe redux

Reader Susan Sanaga wrote in to say she tried the 2-ingredient lemon bars featured in an earlier column. She was none too impressed. She said the recommended two 14.5-ounce cans of lemon filling were too much. Her cake overflowed the pan and the experience was a “disaster.”

We promptly went to the store, bought a box of Betty Crocker Angel Food cake mix and one 23-ounce jar of California Lemon Fruit filling to test. I mixed the ingredients, poured it into an ungreased 13-by 9-inch Pyrex pan and baked it for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The consistency was more like a soft, spongy cake than custardy lemon bars I’d expected (perhaps I baked it a little too long), but it was delicious, nonetheless. I’d definitely make it again, but with one jar instead of two.

Adjust your recipe accordingly and happy baking.

Readers’ best

Debi Williams of Wake Forest shares a tip that is environmentally friendly and will save you money. “Reuse the interior packaging from your cereal boxes. The heavy-duty wrapping makes great freezer wrap. Use it for meat, bread, anything you want to freeze. It’s sturdy and free. Seal with freezer tape and write the contents on the outside.”

Seeking our readers’ best

There are multiple solutions for every cleaning and organizing dilemma. There’s no way to cover them all. But with our reader’s input, we’re chipping away, one dust bunny at a time, at clutter and household mayhem across the Triangle. Send your household tips to You’ll be entered in a quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Designers’ best

The Squidoo blog has an easy way to make a small room look more inviting. “Try angling your bed or sofa. Or float that large sofa facing a fireplace, two smaller conversational seating groups, or a pair of chairs arranged at an angle. Depending on the shape, size and scale of your room, consider using two loveseats or settees instead of a large sofa.”

Best of the tube


Keeping up with the Joneses: Tarek and Christina tour a home with their contractor in California that is listed for $389,000 and learn that it needs extensive work, including the roof, balcony and driveway. It might be worth the investment, considering that homes in the neighborhood sell for more than $600,000. A home next door has a similar setup and they decide to replicate it in their 1960s remodel. Will keeping up with the Joneses make them “Flip or Flop”? Find out at 8 p.m. Tuesday.


The final countdown: Danielle is delighted when she has the opportunity to redesign the kitchen, dining room and powder room in the home of her neighbors, Roger and Lisa. The renovation would be a snap except that Lisa reveals that she’s already sent out invitations to their daughter’s wedding shower, which will be held at the house ... in six weeks! Danielle feels the pressure to pull everything together in record time. “Wedding Woes” airs at 6 p.m. Thursday.

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

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