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Top Drawer: The best of everything for your home and garden

CorrespondentSeptember 6, 2013 


Mix lemon or lime juice with condensed milk to make a “magic pie” in a graham cracker crust.


Best for closets

The Apartment Therapy blog recently listed 10 tips from House Beautiful for streamlining your closet. We’ve excerpted our favorites here:

1 Begin by thinking on paper, which will help speed up and simplify the process: What do you love? When tossing items, refer to your list.

2 Ask yourself: Which is more valuable? The item or the cleared space?

3 Ask yourself these questions: Do I love it? Is it flattering? Is it the image I want to project? If you answer “yes” to all three, the item is a keeper.

4 To determine if something is a personal treasure, ask yourself: Is this the best reminder of that particular time in my life or that person I knew? If not, toss it.

5 Invest in matching wooden or padded hangers and quality containers.

6 Practice SHED. Separate the treasures. Heave the trash. Embrace your identity and connect to who you are without your stuff. Drive forward.

7 Decide who will get the cast-offs, such as a favorite charity or homeless shelter.

You can read the rest of the tips at

Best for earrings

Do you struggle to keep track of earrings? The Nick and Caeli blog suggests cutting ice cube trays to the size of a chosen drawer and storing your jewelry there. The bloggers said the trays cut down on clutter and make it easier to keep track of earring pairs.

You can see an example of the trays in use at

Best grade school keepsake

With a new school year underway, an organizing tip from the Destination Domestication blog will help you keep a record of your child’s milestones throughout the years. Buy a clear portable file box and hanging file folders. Take an 8.5-by11-inch shipping label and print or decoratively pen your child’s name on it in large letters. Attach it to the front of the box. You can label the files by age, grade year, with “Church,” “Scouts,” “Athletics,” “Artwork,” “Medical Records,” “Awards,” “Portraits” or anything you choose. The completed file would make a great keepsake for your child upon graduation or marriage. See an example at

Readers’ best

Cary reader Sun Park Choi wrote in with a suggestion that might help you get rid of pesky bugs flying around the house. Spray them with water.

Choi writes, “Instead of reaching for that chemical-laden bug spray, a spray bottle with water is the best way to catch any flying insects – mosquitos, flies, moths, etc.

“The water weighs down the insect’s wings so that it gets too heavy for it to fly. If you spray the bug while it is at rest, it cannot fly, so you can easily catch it. If you spray it while it is flying, it will immediately fall down to the ground because the water loads its wings down. Then it is easy to catch from there.”

• Have a household or gardening tip to share? Send it to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best 3-ingredient recipe

Raleigh reader Marvin Woll wrote in to share his recipe for Magic Pie.

You’ll need:

Small graham cracker crust

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 large lemon or 11/2 limes, depending on your taste preference

Empty can of milk into a mixing bowl. Thoroughly squeeze lemon or limes into the bowl. Mix well by using at least 40 or 50 strokes. As you mix, the mixture will begin to thicken. Pour into the pie crust and refrigerate at least 3 hours.

“This pie tastes like a key lime pie but with a different texture,” Woll reports. “We call it Magic Pie because when we were kids we thought it was ‘magic’ when the citrus juice made the mixture thicken.”

Seeking your best 5-ingredient or less cool weather recipes If you have a simple, five-ingredient or less cool-weather recipe to share, please send it to If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best recipe” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


N.C. newcomers: Joey, his wife, Micki, and their two girls have been renting in a Wilmington suburb since moving from New Jersey for his job. They’re eager to find a place of their own closer to town. With a $1.25 million budget, it would seem a cinch to find an ideal space. But Joey must be within 30 minutes of his job as an on-call anesthesiologist. See what a million bucks can buy in the Wilmington area. “House Hunters” airs at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

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