Top drawer:

Top Drawer: The best stuff for your home and garden

August 16, 2013 

Add a decorative touch to your foyer by adding a foyer sized table for resting flowers, and accessories to pull your guests into your home.


Designer’s best

The design team at says there’s nothing like a home’s entry to make a visual impact.

“When guests walk in your home they should get a sense of your style instantly. Maximize a foyer space without over cluttering. Try using a chest or decorative baskets to house keys or mail. Add a decorative touch by adding a mirror and foyer sized table for resting flowers, and accessories to pull your guests into your home. The mirror will open up your foyer and reflect the gorgeous décor of the space. Save money by using vases and decorative urns from other areas of your home that already exist.”

Best for chores

The Money Saving Mom blog has a sanity- and time-saving tip for parents with young children who struggle to keep their houses ordered. Put them to work! Seven-year-olds can be particularly helpful around the house, the blog notes, if you make expectations clear and reasonable. A springtime post listed 20 tasks that first- and second-graders can do around the house.

We’ve excerpted a few of them here:

Pick up their room. Make sure you show your child exactly what a clean room looks like. And if their room is really messy, I’d suggest working with them to clean it and giving them a few specific projects to work on at a time. Children at this age are often still learning the concept of staying on task, so you want to make sure you don’t overwhelm them by giving them too many tasks to accomplish at once.

Make Bed. Seven-year-olds can usually do a pretty good job of making their beds.

Vacuum. Kathrynne often helps by vacuuming two rooms in our house. Two rooms seems to be a great number for her age and ability – not too much to overwhelm her, but it’s still a big help to me. And if she vacuums two rooms each week day, I don’t have to do much vacuuming myself! She also enjoys using the attachment on the vacuum to vacuum cracks and crevices.

Water plants and gardens. Create a watering can from a milk jug that’s just the right size for kids. It makes watering the plants and gardens fun! Instructions are online at

Sort, start and put away laundry. I recently taught Kathrynne how to sort and start the laundry. She still needs a little help with figuring out whether some things qualify as lights, darks or colors, but she can do most of the sorting and starting of the laundry herself. She also often helps to fold and put away her clothes.

Clip coupons. Kathrynne does a great job of clipping coupons for me – and it saves me a lot of time. I pay her for the amount of coupons she clips for me so it’s a win-win for both of us.

Take care of pets. Kathrynne is in charge of most of the care for our bunny, from feeding her and keeping her water bowl filled, to cleaning out the cage and making sure there’s enough hay in it.

Dust/wipe down surfaces. Seven-year-olds are great at cleaning baseboards, small floor areas, wiping down cupboards or dusting surfaces. If you have a feather duster, they might have fun trying that out, too.

Empty trash. Youngsters can usually handle tying up the trash bag and hauling it out to the garage or back door – or even hoisting it into the dumpster.

See other age-appropriate chores for 7 year olds at

Best recipe

Tina Clyburn of Raleigh wrote in to share her simple recipe for a luscious blueberry crumble.

You’ll need:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1 stick butter

2-3 pints blueberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a microwave-safe dish. Using a fork, mix the melted butter with the flour and sugar until it’s an even consistency. It will be a very dry mixture. Rinse the blueberries and pour into your baking dish. (She says her mother makes the recipe in a 9-by-13 dish. I like my blueberries and topping a little thicker, so I use an oval baking dish that’s somewhere between 8-by-8 and 9-by-13.)

Pour the topping over the blueberries, spreading evenly and pressing down lightly with the back of a fork. Bake for 30 min at 350. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Reader’s best

Rhonda McNeill of Sanford found a simple way to organize the endless array of cords littering her home. “I clip all my chargers (Nook, computer, phone, etc.) by clothespins to a string hanging from my lamp near my chair. They are plugged into a power strip!”

Best for stuck locks

The folks at This Old House offer advice that may save you a call to a locksmith the next time it appears that your lock is jammed. Instead of reaching for the phone, reach for a can of WD-40.

“Some WD-40 sprayed into the keyhole will lube the mechanism quickly. If that doesn’t do it, you may have a broken spring or tumbler – and need that pro after all. If so, keep the new lock from locking up by giving it a yearly spritz of long-lasting Teflon spray.”

See the complete list of 47 skills you need to survive home ownership at

Seeking your mother’s best tips

From cooking and cleaning to gardening and organizing, it’s true that mom knows best. Share mom’s best tip for household chores and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a quarterly gift card. Send your tips by email to

Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best of the tube

Room to grow.

The “Renovation Raiders” team takes on a kitchen and dining area. It only takes the team five hours to tear down a wall, rip out the old kitchen and install new cabinets, a kitchen island with a built-in dog house and beer keg refrigerator for a homebrew aficionado. This raid is tailor made. “Renovation Raiders” airs at 9 p.m. Thursday.  

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