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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentJune 7, 2013 


Water tomato plants regularly; daily, if the weather is hot.


Reader’s best

Alice Baker of Raleigh shared a tip that’ll keep you from hunting through mounds of socks to find a perfect match.

1 Buy 2-inch safety pins (or giant baby safety pins).

2 After wearing, put socks together toe-to-toe and heel-to-heel.

3 Pin both socks together at the heel.

4 Launder with safety pin in place. 5 Place clean socks in drawer with pin in place. When removing to wear, place pin in a jar convenient to use again in the same manner.

Seeking our readers’ best

Do you have a cleaning, organizing, gardening or time-saving household tip to share? Send it 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.

Designer’s best

Interior designer Thomas O’Brien shares this worldly tip for decorating your home on “Decorating with maps is one of my favorite things to do for clients. Maps of the region personalize any interior. Use them as art or blow them up and use them as a whole-wall covering. I buy maps from around 1833, the year my house was built. You can find old maps from $60 to $200 on up to $10,000 for early ones.”

Reader’s best 3-ingredient recipe

Paul Daly of Raleigh wrote in to share his recipe for Blue Cheese Biscuits.

You will need:

• 1 8-ounce package of refrigerator biscuits

• 4 tablespoons butter or margarine

• 3 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese

Cut each biscuit in quarters. Arrange in two 8-inch round baking dishes.

Melt together butter and blue cheese. Pour over biscuits, coating them well.

Bake in a 400-degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Serve warm.

(A 10-biscuit package will make 40 biscuits.)

“This is a recipe that I’ve been making for 50 years,” Daly wrote. “I cut it out of a Better Homes and Garden Christmas magazine. Everyone raves over them.” His wife, Lucille, is the baker, he adds.

Best for tomatoes says you can get the most from your garden tomatoes this season by following a few simple steps. We’ve excerpted them here:

Applying about 3 inches of mulch will help hold the moisture and keep the soil temperature even.

Water regularly, daily if the weather is hot. Cracked skin is a sign of overwatering. Water at ground level rather than from the top down to ensure water reaches the roots and prevent scorched leaves. Do not allow plants to dry out.

During the season: Most tomato plants will need to be staked or supported with cages or trellises to keep vines off the ground. This offers protection from rot and disease and saves space. Staking also helps expose the fruit to more sun, which helps with ripening and makes harvesting easier. Strips of pantyhose or twine can be used as ties.

Cover with tarp or sheets overnight when there’s a danger of frost, but be sure to pick all the fruit before fall’s first hard frost.

Harvesting: Once ripe, simply twist off the vine and store at room temperature. A length of the vine can also be snipped off and stored with tomatoes attached. To preserve their flavor, it is best to store tomatoes in warm to room temperature.

Learn more at

Best for scuff marks

Are your floors looking dingy and abused from unsightly scuff marks? The Budget Savvy Diva says removing the marks can be a breeze if you have a tennis ball handy. “Simply take a dry tennis ball and scrub it over the mark until it disappears!” Check out this and other budget-saving tips at

Best for boots

Now that warm weather is here, I put my winter boots away. Last fall after I did this, I was disappointed to see that my tall boots had sagged into a crumpled position, which left unsightly bends and creases. This year, I heeded a tip from Pinterest andpurchased several swimming pool noodles at a discount store. I cut the noodles to the interior length of my boots, inserted them through the top and my boots now stand at attention in my closet, ready to wear the next time a chill fills the air.

Best of the tube


Mother-daughter showdown: The fur flies when two mother-daughter duos square off. With $500 and only one hour to shop at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in Pasadena, Calif., the teams must find items on their Flip List. Both teams work side-by-side to transform their finds and then offer their wares at Hollywood’s Melrose Trading Post. The women who make the biggest profit take home $5,000. “Good Morning America” co-anchor Lara Spencer is the host of “Flea Market Flip.” It airs at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

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