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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentOctober 11, 2013 

Designer’s best

Cooler temps offer the perfect opportunity to use warmer colors and accents to cozy up indoor and outdoor spaces. We’ve found just the site to inspire you. offers 15 Best Autumn Decorating Tips and Ideas. We’ve excerpted some of the ideas here. You can see the remainder at:

Welcome fall with dining room tables and centerpieces. Whether you want to go formal or casual for your table, choose colors that reflect your home decor and the season. Consider using red and yellow apples for an informal organic and edible centerpiece. Remember, the centerpiece doesn’t have to be stagnant; add or subtract from it throughout the season for visual interest. For more formality, consider place settings and table linens that have just hints of fall colors and themes.

Dress up your front porch with fall inspiration. Use tall corn stalks, raffia or straw to wrap around entry-porch columns and mailboxes. Use thick ribbon in deep oranges and browns to contrast with the straw. Carry these same materials into lanyards or garlands to decorate around your front door and entry.

Use your fireplace to showcase seasonal décor. Your fireplace mantel has been waiting for this season! Whether you look in your yard or travel to an arts and crafts store, dried leaves and pine cones make great décor. Small pumpkins, gourds or dried leaf vines, along with colorful candles, will brighten your mantel and spirits.

Cooler temperatures mean cozy sitting areas: As the temperatures begin to fall, bring out the fall-colored throws and blankets to place on couches or in adjacent baskets. Complementing fall-colored throw pillows will complete any cozy nook as a place to cuddle up and enjoy a good book.

Best home tour for getting ideas

Wake County’s annual Parade of Homes continues from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and again Oct. 11-13, offering a chance to visit more than 200 new homes with the latest and greatest in technology, design, landscaping and color. The homes, which range from $130,000 to well over $1million, are great places to draw inspiration for your own home or just to see how different color palettes can change the feel of a room. You’ll want to wear comfy slip-on shoes, since footwear is not allowed in many homes. It’s also a good idea to take your camera phone and bring along paint swatches in case you see something you like. (However, some homes don’t allow photography.)

Parade books with floor plans, addresses and prices are available at houses along the route. You can also download the Parade app for your iPhone or Android phone and explore the homes online. Learn more at:

Best Halloween craft

Raleigh resident Kari Raynor and her two sons, Evan and Bennett, had a blast decorating glass jar pumpkins, ghosts and Frankensteins last fall. Raynor got the idea from Pinterest. You can make some, too, with the instructions laid out on the Not So Idle Hands blog. This post takes you through creating pumpkin jars. You can customize your jars by using different colored tissue paper and face designs.

You will need:

• 5 glass jars of varying sizes (varying sizes makes it more interesting)

• Orange tissue paper

• Mod Podge

• Black paper

• Green paint

1 Start by cutting the tissue paper into strips about 11/2 to 2 inches wide. Measure the height of your jars and trim the tissue paper strips to that length.

2 Paint Mod Podge a section at a time onto the outside of the jar. Lay down a strip of paper and smooth them down well. Then move onto the next section. Don’t worry if it’s a little wrinkly or the strips overlap, it won’t show once it’s dry.

3 Keep going till you get the jar covered. Then,work on cutting out faces for them. (The site offers templates for cutting out face shapes.)

4 Glue on the faces and paint the tops of the jars with some pretty green paint. Then brush on a coat or two of Mod Podge. (I used glossy to look shiny, like it’s part of the jar.)

5 Let them cure for 24 hours.

Use either battery powered tea lights or strings of Christmas lights to illuminate the pumpkins at night.

To see a step-by-step guide for creating the pumpkins, visit

Best recipe

Sandra Hardy of Havelock wrote in to share her recipe for autumnal cranberry chicken:

“This cranberry chicken recipe is ideal for busy weeknights when you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. With just four ingredients, this easy cranberry chicken recipe is an easy fix-and-forget-it way to enjoy boneless chicken breasts. I usually serve it with broccoli and some type of potato dish. Baked potatoes are always a good choice because you can bake them in the oven at the same time.”

Cranberry Chicken


6 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 1 oz. envelope dried French onion soup mix

1 16 oz. can cranberry sauce

1 cup Catalina salad dressing


PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

PLACE chicken breasts in baking dish. Sprinkle French onion soup mix evenly over chicken breasts.

WHISK together cranberry sauce and salad dressing. Pour over chicken breasts.

BAKE approximately 50 minutes.

Best of the tube


From remodel to short sale. Caught between their new professional lives and their old student ways, accountants Robert and Marie may be ready to move on, but their disheveled home is holding them back. With water damaged floors, mixed-up rooms and a master bath that somehow turned into a storage area, the house is unsellable. Jonathan comes to the rescue with a plan to breathe fresh life into the home, but is soon tripped up by a costly setback, and the couple gambles on a short sale to land a great new home. “Buying and Selling” airs at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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