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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentAugust 2, 2013 


Peaches are ideally stored resting on their shoulders, not touching one another.


Best marinade from Mom

Karen Edwards of Raleigh wrote in to share a favorite family summertime marinade. She uses the marinade on steak, chicken and fish. Edwards writes, “The best marinade I use comes from my mother. My daughter asks for it with grilled flank steak when she comes home from college, but it’s good on pretty much anything.”

You’ll need:

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup white wine or vinegar

1/3 cup oil

Marinate flank steak overnight. Chicken and fish will not need to marinate nearly as long. Grill or cook as desired.

Best for beach photography

If you’re headed to the beach, check out these tips from The Digital Photography School blog to get the most out of your seaside shots. We’ve excerpted a few here:

Find a focal point: Look for a point of interest or focal point that will give those looking at your photo a place for their eye to rest. Perhaps it’s a pattern in the sand, a set of footprints or the crashing of waves over a rock. Also look for the little things that tell the story of going to the beach, such as shoes at the water’s edge, sand castles, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion and the like. Sometimes these can make wonderful little feature shots to break up your vacation album or to display on a wall.

Timing is important: The beginning and end of days can present the best opportunities for shooting at the beach. For starters, there will be fewer people, but with the sun shining on an angle, you often get more interesting effects of shadows and colors – particularly in the evening when the light becomes golden.

Spot metering: Spot metering is a feature on some cameras that allows you to designate which part of the image you want to be well exposed. This is particularly useful in bright light when you want to get a shady area exposed well. It allows you to face people away from the sun and to meter on their shadowy face, thereby avoiding squinting (a common problem with photographing people at the beach).

Out of the shadows: If it’s bright and you are trying to shoot a photo portrait at the beach, people will almost always have shadows on their face (often cast by hats, glasses and so forth). Switch on your flash and force it to fire when shooting; the shadows will be eliminated and your actual subject will be well exposed.

Check out these and other tips at

Best for peaches

Peaches have been a constant in our home lately. But we’ve had quite a time trying to eat them all before they go bad. The folks at Good Housekeeping offer these tips for caring for summer peaches.

“Once home, sort your peaches by ripeness. Peaches are ideally stored resting on their shoulders, not touching one another.

“If you have peaches that you’d like to ripen further, leave them at room temperature in a dry area, even near a window (but not baking in the hot sun). Check daily, and use or refrigerate when they’re ready.

“Refrigeration will stop the ripening process, so even very ripe peaches will last for another couple days.”

You can find these tips, as well as recipes for peach and blueberry crumble at

Best blog

I have a new favorite blog: The Idea Room. I was drawn in immediately with a post about kids’ lunches. In it, this super organized mom describes how she assembles an assortment of healthy snacks (fruits, vegetable sticks, granola and cereal bars, pretzels, bottled water, snap peas, etc.) and puts them in individual zippered bags. She does the same with homemade desserts such as fresh baked cookies or Rice Krispy Treats. She refrigerates the bags in baskets, bins or Tupperware and then pulls out the baskets while making the kids’ sandwiches and lets them pick an assortment of treats to pack. “Fill bags when you are talking on the phone , or when you are unloading the new groceries, to save time so that everything is ready to go in the mornings.” You can see the post at Check out other time-saving tips on everything from home decor and crafts to do-it-yourself projects to tips on holiday decor, parenting, photography and recipes.

Best tips

Clutter busters of the Triangle, unite! We need your organizing and cleaning tips to get our homes in tip top shape for late summer and fall. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Send your tips to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best for orchids

Head over to the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 10 to learn all about growing and blooming orchids. There will be morning and afternoon lectures, an orchid sale and a souvenir orchid plant given to registered participants. The Arboretum is at 4415 Beryl road. Info: 919-515-3132 or

Best of the tube


Property Brothers: Busy medical professionals Samira and Shawn are living out of a suitcase. They want a luxury pad close to Sean’s office that is move-in ready. The Property Brothers help them find a budget-friendly dream home that can be renovated. When unexpected issues arise, anxiety builds and arguments break out. Will Drew and Jonathan find a satisfactory resolution in time? “Property Brothers” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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