Top Drawer

Top Drawer: The best stuff for your home and garden

CorrespondentJuly 12, 2013 


Simple, homemade lemonade is a cool summer drink for any occasion.


Best lemon refreshers

Here are two lemony refreshers I found to help your family cool off on hot summer days.

Lemonade: Juice 7 or 8 large lemons to make 11/2 cups of juice. In a small saucepan, bring 11/2 to 13/4 cups sugar and 1 cup of water to a boil, stirring to form a simple syrup. Chill in the refrigerator. Stir together lemon juice, 7 cups of water and chilled syrup. Serve over ice.

Frozen pops: For a kid-friendly treat, pour the lemonade into a cup, put a popsicle stick or spoon into it and freeze for four or more hours.

Best way to organize your jewelry

As any woman who owns more than a handful of necklaces, earrings or bracelets can tell you, keeping them organized and untangled can be a challenge. The folks at have come up with an ingenious way to bring order to the chain of chaos. We’ve excerpted the idea here:

Buy several cutlery trays, a pack of rubber-coated hooks and several cans of spray paint. Spray paint all of the trays and hooks and attach the trays to the wall using anchors and screws. Screw hooks to the interior and bottom of the trays. Hang your jewelry from the hooks.

You can see an example of the finished project at

Best for speed cleaning

Ruth, a stay-at-home mom, loves saving time while multi-tasking. She keeps her home clean with a series of daily speed-cleaning tips and she shares her routine on the Living Well Spending Less blog. We’ve excerpted her general guidelines and bedroom tips here:

Start at one end of the house. Cleaning is much easier when everything has a home.

Use a large laundry basket to collect items such as toys or clothing that need to be returned to a different room. If you have multiple offenders, use multiple baskets.

After you have finished tidying every room, take 5 minutes to put away the collected items. Save sweeping/mopping and vacuuming until the end, then do it all at once.

We have mostly hard surface floors, so I use an industrial dry mop to wipe the floors each day. It takes only a couple minutes to run it over all the floors and then shake it off outside.

About once a week, I do a really thorough sweep and then use a Swiffer WetJet to mop. I vacuum the rugs about 3 times a week.

Save the glass cleaning for the end as well. Once the house is completely clean, I will grab my Windex and rag and run around doing spot checks on the glass doors and windows. I wipe the bathroom mirrors as well as the fixtures and sink. Keep daily shower cleaner in the bath/shower and spray down after each use.

• In the bedroom (5-10 minutes each, depending on how much to pick up):

Always make the bed. Even if there are other things laying around, the room will look much, much cleaner.

Quickly pick up any clothes, toys, or dishes that are lying around.

Use a duster or dry rag to quickly dust all surfaces, including the headboard and footboard.


Best 5-ingredient marinade

Pam Cook of Raleigh wrote in to share her favorite summertime grilling recipe for London Broil.

Mix together in a large container:

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup oil (Canola)

2 cloves chopped garlic

Place 2.5- to 4-pound London Broil in the marinade for at least 8 hours.

Grill 7-10 minutes per side (longer if a thicker cut of meat) or until desired doneness. Allow to rest off the grill for at least 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

“Makes an easy summer meal when served with a salad and other local fresh veggies,” Cook said.

Best of the tube


An eclectic vision: Olivia is ready to trade up from her cramped studio apartment. She wants a home that matches her eclectic style and has plenty of room for entertaining. Drew and Jonathan Scott find her a funky fixer-upper to renovate so it will reflect her style. Her last-minute requests and vintage purchases throw the brothers for a loop, but Olivia has confidence that they’ll create the perfect home. “Property Brothers” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.


Going green: Alison makes the environment her top priority in this kitchen project by recycling materials, reusing cabinet hardware and reducing waste by donating cabinetry and appliances instead of throwing them away. Soffits are removed, and five layers of ugly, old flooring are replaced with dark brown bamboo planks. Ceiling-height cabinetry and countertops made of recycled oven glass give the kitchen a new shape and function. A DIY art wall made of cork scraps and a stylish wine rack provide the finishing touches. “Kitchen Crashers” airs at 9 p.m. Monday.

Gift card winner

Congratulations to John C. Ringo of Raleigh, winner of our quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Ringo wrote in with his Slow Cooker Buffalo chicken recipe. If you have a 5-ingredient or less recipe or a cleaning or gardening tip that you’d like to share, send it to Be sure to include your name and address. If your tip or recipe is published, we’ll enter your name in our next gift-card drawing.

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