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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentAugust 31, 2013 

LIFE HOME-HOUSEPLANTS 3 PH

The Fresh Home site says plants make a great addition to any space.

TOM GRALISH — MCT

Best recipe

Raleigh resident Monica Dood shares a recipe for Tomato Pie that she got from a friend. You’ll need:

4 tomatoes, peeled and sliced (Romas work best)

10 basil leaves, fresh and chopped

½ cup green onion, chopped

1 pie shell , 9-inch deep dish prebaked

1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated

1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

1 cup mayonnaise

salt and pepper

1 Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2 Place the tomatoes in a colander in the sink in 1 layer. Sprinkle with salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.

3 Layer the tomato slices, basil, and onion in pie shell. Season with salt and pepper. Combine the grated cheeses and mayonnaise together. Spread mixture on top of the tomatoes and bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

4 To serve, cut into slices and serve.

Best for storing necklaces - untangled!

Greenville resident Doris Cox wrote in to share a tip for keeping necklaces handy and untangled. “Hang them on cup hanger hooks inside the closet. They are small hooks that can be screwed into wood by hand. I have them under the mantle for hanging Christmas stockings and under a kitchen cabinet shelf to hang cups. You could put them on the back of the door or under a shelf. I have mine on a solid wood section at the end of a rod so that they are visible when I walk into the closet.”

Best home tips

The Real Simple site offers a wealth of cleaning advice. A recent trip to the site yielded a bevy of tips, some of which we’ve excerpted here.

• For lint-free viewing, grab a coffee filter to wipe down dusty and staticky computer monitors and TV screens regularly.

• Clean discolored teacups and teapots by making a paste of baking soda and water. Gently rub over the stain to remove.

• Protect wood floors. Slide socks onto the legs of chairs and tables so they don’t scratch the floor when you rearrange the room (yet again).

• Revive a forgotten candle. Slide a dusty candle inside a stocking and roll it around.

• Keep a retractable cord from rewinding too soon. Just clip the cord near the opening to prevent the cord from being sucked back in too quickly.

• Quickly clean the interior of your purse by running a lint roller over the lining.

• Kiss that smudge of red lipstick good-bye. If the fabric is machine washable, saturate the spot with hair spray, let it sit for 10 minutes, then dab with a damp cloth or sponge to remove. Launder as usual to wash out any residual stain and spray.

• Wash items, then place on aluminum foil in the bottom of a pot. Add a baking-soda solution (¼ cup soda, a few teaspoons salt, 1 quart boiling water) and cover for a few seconds. The result? A chemical reaction that gets the black off the gravy boat.

You can see more tips at http://nando.com/bz.

Best for cleaning produce

Leave it to Dr. Oz to come up with an environmentally-friendly way to clean pesticides and other residue from fresh produce.

The vinegar in this spray has natural anti-bacterial properties, while the lemon juice is a natural astringent. The solution works to both breakdown and clean off pesticides. He posted the fruit and veggie cleaning recipe on http://nando.com/b-.You’ll need:1 cup water

1 cup distilled white vinegar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1/2 lemon

Combine all ingredients in a large container. Transfer to a spray bottle with a pump. Spray mixture on produce and let sit for 5 minutes. Scrub and rinse.

Designer’s best

The Fresh Home site says plants make a great addition to any space. “Add them to every room, small or large, few or many. Plants are an inexpensive means to accessorizing your space and adding color and texture. Not only are plants beautiful but many can clean household air and balance humidity. They can absorb pollutants and remove harmful gases from the air. No home should be without these wonderful greens!”

Seeking your best tips

Clutter busters of the Triangle, unite! We’re in desperate need of 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 topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Send news and photos to The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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