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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentSeptember 13, 2013 

The I Heart Organizing blog chronicles one family’s budget DIY makeover of their three bedroom, two-bath home over 12 years.

COURTESY OF IHEARTORGANIZING.COM — COURTESY OF IHEARTORGANIZING.COM

Best 5-ingredient chicken salad

Anita Bell of Raleigh wrote in to share her favorite recipe for “1, 2, 3 chicken salad.” “The wonderful thing about this recipe is that all the variations give the salad a totally different taste – all delicious! Amounts can be varied to taste, but only five ingredients are necessary!” Bell makes the recipe “to taste,” but we’ve included her suggested amounts here:

2 cups cooked, diced chicken

1/4 cup chopped celery

Enough mayonnaise to bind

You can vary the taste by adding 1/4 cup nuts and 1/2 cup fruit. Add more or less to suit your tastes. Suggested combinations include:

• Cashews and pineapple

• Pecans and grapes

• Almonds and mandarin oranges

• Walnuts and chopped apples

Best decor and organizing blog

If you’d like to see what a fresh coat of paint, some well-placed accessories and some decluttering/reorganizing can do to spiff up a home, check out the I Heart Organizing blog. The blog chronicles one family’s budget DIY makeover of their three bedroom, two-bath home over 12 years. The blogger even includes information on the paint colors and brands used for each room. You’ll also find organizing tips on everything from storing your kids’ stuffed animals, staging an entryway and arranging an orderly nightstand. Blogger Jen’s a bit of a perfectionist, so prepare to get your Martha Stewart on when tackling her tasks. If you’ve got the organizing bug – or just wish you did – we’re pretty sure you’ll ♥ ♥ ♥  http://nando.com/c8.

Best natural cleaner recipes

My family has made a decided turn away from expensive, store-bought cleaners in recent years, so we’re always intrigued when we come across recipes for more economical ways to clean. The Little Ms. Robinson DIY blog offers a variety of cleaning recipes that we were eager to try.

First up was a tried-and-true solution that I’ve used many times. This recipe adds a touch of commercial laundry detergent to scent the vinegary solution.

Combine:

• 12 ounces white vinegar (I use hot vinegar when initially making this cleaner.)

• 12 ounces regular blue Dawn dish soap (not concentrated)

• 1 teaspoon laundry detergent

“This stuff will get through anything, make your sink and shower shine like new, and save you when just about nothing else works,” the blog says. “The laundry detergent is optional.”

Check out this and other homemade cleaning solutions at http://nando.com/c9.

Best ways to keep produce fresh

The BuzzFeed Food blog is chock full of ideas to extend the life of perishable produce and foods.

For example, freeze herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and oregano in olive oil poured into ice cube containers. The herbs will infuse the oil with flavor and make a handy base for recipes in the cooler months.

Store asparagus standing up by cutting the stem’s ends, placing in a jar of water and covering it with a plastic bag. The blog says asparagus will stay fresh a week longer using this method.

Wrap the crown of a banana bunch with plastic wrap. “They’ll keep for 3-5 days longer than usual, which is especially helpful if you eat organic bananas. Bananas also produce more ethylene gas than any other fruit, so keep them isolated on the counter.”

You can read these tips and more at http://nando.com/cb.

Seeking your best tips

For every cleaning, gardening and organizing dilemma, there are multiple solutions. There’s no way to cover them all. But with our readers’ ideas, we’re chipping away at clutter, weeds and household mayhem across the Triangle. Send your tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. You’ll be entered in a quarterly drawing for a Target gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Best of the tube

On DIY

Kitchen rebuild: Val and Bob Honan have renovated all of their Chicago home except the kitchen. Construction crews start rebuilding the space from the ground up, incorporating new floors, cabinets, a custom banquet, a one-of-a-kind table, appliances and lighting. When this crash is over, there is twice as much space and the result is absolutely stunning. “Kitchen Crashers” airs at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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