Top Drawer

CorrespondentOctober 18, 2013 


Check out the splendor of the state’s 122-year-old Executive Mansion through Nov. 14.


Best way to light pumpkins

Here’s a new way to light the night on All Hallow’s Eve, from the Martha Stewart website. A few quick zaps of a power drill and a string of white holiday lights are keys to making an elegant, “celestial” pumpkin.

You will need:

• Pumpkins of varying sizes

• Tiny white string lights

• Drill with 1/4-inch bit

• Knife

• Fleshing tool or pumpkin carving scoop

• Black tape

1 Turn a pumpkin on its side and use a knife to carve out a circular opening in the bottom. Make the opening large enough so your hand can fit comfortably through it. Remove the flesh and seeds. With a serrated loop tool or scoop, scrape away the pumpkin’s inner wall until it’s about 1/4 inch thick. Turn the pumpkin right-side up.

2 Drill holes using a 1/4-inch bit; use tape as a guide for a uniform pattern or make randomly spaced holes.

3 Insert a string of lights through the bottom and place one bulb in each hole, pushing the bulbs through so they protrude slightly. Tuck the remaining lights into the pumpkin and turn the pumpkin right-side up with the light string’s plug running out from the bottom.

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Best fall drink

Warm up chilly nights with a recipe for Aunt Ruthie’s Hot Spiced Cider found on the Sugar Pie Farmhouse site.

You will need:

1 gallon apple cider

1 cup brown sugar (or a little more to taste)

1 teaspoon whole cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 orange, sliced

Pour apple cider in a crock pot. Add sugar, stir. Put whole cloves and cinnamon in a tea-ball or cheesecloth and place in pot. Add orange slices. Simmer covered on high until hot, stirring occasionally. Once hot, turn heat to low to keep warm. Enjoy the taste and aroma throughout the day!

You can find the original entry about a quarter of the way down the page at

Best time to drop by the governor’s place

Check out the splendor of the state’s 122-year-old Executive Mansion on Wednesdays and Thursdays through Nov. 14. Free tours are conducted at 10 and 10:30 a.m.; and 2, 2:30 and 3 p.m. Child-friendly tours of the nearly 5 acres of flower and vegetable gardens are on tap at 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Groups of 10 or more should make reservations two weeks in advance; visit or by phone, 919-807-7950. The Executive Mansion is at 200 N. Blount St. in Raleigh.

Designer’s best

This weekend is your last chance to draw design and decor inspiration from area builders during Wake County’s annual Parade of Homes. Nearly 200 homes are open to the public, showcasing the latest in home design, decor, colors, lighting, appliances and technology. The tour is free and runs from noon-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Visit to browse through the list of homes by size, price, builder, city or community. Parade books with maps, floor plans and prices are usually available at houses along the route.

Reader’s best

Billie Hurmence of Raleigh shares a smart organizational tip. “Pack your closet the way you pack your suitcase – roll your clothes. You can categorize rolled knit tops and pants on closet shelves by color, season or whatever and get far more mileage out of your storage space. I’ve rolled both summer and winter-wear into my closet now – no wondering where to find this or that ’tween-season garment; they’re all visible at a glance. And so much freed space on the hang-up rod that only heavy coats and jackets need go to the attic now. Works also for the linen closet!”

Seeking our readers’ best

If you’ve got a tip for organizing, gardening, cleaning or cooking, we’d love to hear it and share it with our readers. Send your tips to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “Best tips” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


Big city dreams, small-town budget. Jen and Brock dream of buying a home downtown but will need to find a place that generates rental income to afford it. Scott shows them a century-old, single-family row house and an east-end duplex before sky-high housing prices threaten to scare them out of the market altogether. “Income Property” airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday.

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