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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentMay 24, 2013 

STRAWBERRIES3.FE.041510.JEL

Prolong the taste of spring berries by soaking them in one part white vinegar to 10 parts water for a few minutes.

2010 NEWS & OBSERVER FILE PHOTO - JULI LEONARD — jleonard@newsobserver.com

Best green weed killer

Got weeds? The Alternative Energy Gardning Blogspot site (yes, Gardning) says you can use a homemade vinegar solution to banish them for good.

You’ll need:

• 1 gallon of white vinegar

• 1/2 cup of salt

• Liquid dish soap (any brand)

Put salt in an empty spray bottle and fill it the rest of the way with white vinegar. Add a squirt of liquid dish soap. Spray it on the weeds in the morning and, as temperatures rise, it will do its work. This solution works best if you use it on a hot day.

Learn more about green gardening methods at http://nando.com/aq.

Best craft

Spend an afternoon crafting whimsical candle holders with your kids or girlfriends. The Makezine blog walks you through the process in five easy steps, which we’ve excerpted here.

You’ll need:

• Tissue paper in your desired colors

• Mod Podge, matte finish. (In a pinch you can also use school glue.)

• Paintbrush

• Scissors

• Glass containers to fit your candle(s), thrift store vases or wine tumblers

• Paper punches in various shapes

• Q-tips, optional

Step by step:

1 Decide colors and shapes you will use. You can go monochromatic, or choose a variety of colors for a playful, confetti-style look. Punch out a pile of paper shapes and set aside.

2 Scoop out a bit of Mod Podge with your paintbrush and water it down for a thinner texture. You don’t want it super drippy, just a bit thinned-out.

3 Brush Mod Podge onto the glass and use your paintbrush to affix the punched-out paper shapes. Brush over the shapes afterward to fully saturate them with Mod Podge. Take your time and brush gently, attaching more and more shapes, overlapping them as you prefer. Once your glass is fully covered, set it aside to dry.

4 Once your piece is dry, you’ll see that any areas you have brushed with Mod Podge that aren’t covered in tissue paper will have a frosted look. If you prefer these areas to be clear, simply dip a Q-tip in hot water and carefully scrub off the Mod Podge.

5 Once dry, place a votive candle in the holder, light and enjoy! The votives would be great for a spring or summer party or family dinner.

You can see a finished product at http://nando.com/ar.

Best for headlamps

Raleigh resident Marvin Woll wrote in with a tip to clean stubborn grime from your car’s plastic headlamp covers.

“A quick and efficient way to clean these covers is with a small plastic scrub pad and toothpaste. Simply put some toothpaste on the pad and scrub the headlight cover in a horizontal motion. When finished, use a wet paper towel to wipe the toothpaste off and then a dry towel to finish the process. You will find that the covers are much cleaner and thus you will also be able to see better at night with added brightness to your headlights.”

Best for berries

With berry season upon us, here’s a great way to prolong the taste of spring berries from The Frugal Girls website.

“Use one part white vinegar to 10 parts water. Soak the strawberries (or other berries), leaves and all in the vinegar/water mixture for a few minutes. Then drain the strawberries in a colander until they are completely dry. Refrigerate the berries in an uncovered bowl. The vinegar/water mixture kills most mold spores on the berries and keeps them fresh longer, without affecting the taste. This also works for all kinds of berries: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc. It really works!!”

Read more at http://nando.com/as.

Seeking our readers’ best

All around the Triangle, people are climbing out from under coatings of pollen and dust in their homes. That means it’s prime time for a good, old-fashioned spring cleaning. We’d love to hear your tips for getting your house in tip-top shape for the spring and summer seasons. Please send favorite cleaning or organizing tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. If we use it, we’ll enter you in a quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city for the drawing. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Designer’s best

We love this idea for a springtime garden party found on the House Beautiful site. “Have a party where every guest is asked to bring a plant of one color – say, purple – for an instant garden with a little story of friendship behind each plant.” Find more springtime decor tips at http://nando.com/au.

Best for avocados

It won’t be long before plump, ripe tomatoes are bursting from vines across the Triangle. In my home, that means fresh, homemade guacamole will soon be on my menu. But how do you know whether an avocado is prime time? The Northwest Edible Life site says they’ve found the secret to buying picture perfect avocados.

Choose avocados that are a very heavy and firm, dark green without any obvious indents or smushy parts. Next, flick off the stem. If it’s brown, your avocado is too ripe, and likely has bruising and brown streaks inside. If it’s a bright yellowish green, you’ve got a winner!

You can see examples of the perfect fruit at http://nando.com/aw.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Moldy mess: After an extensive serach, Tarek and Christina find a promising five-bedroom, three-bath home to flip in Bellflower, Calif. The recently renovated kitchen and dining room appear to have this home on the fast road to a flip – until they discover extensive, toxic mold in the upstairs bathroom.As they open the walls to address the mold, they find fire and termite damage. Suddenly, this dream flip looks more like a nightmare. Can they salvage their dreams and get this home to market? Find out at 8 p.m. Tuesday on “Flip or Flop.”

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