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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentNovember 8, 2013 


Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting to keep your house comfortable while minimizing the use of the less energy-efficient resistance heat strip.


Best for dark-colored laundry

Are you tired of your black and dark-colored clothes fading in the wash? The solution may be as close as your kitchen. Catherine Ryu, creative director of jean outfitter Citizens of Humanity, says, “Add two tablespoons of salt to your cold water wash, making sure (clothes)are inside out.”

Readers’ best recipe

Marti Van Horne of Raleigh shared a quick, four-ingredient recipe that comes together in no time. She clipped the recipe from The News & Observer several years ago, and quickly decided that “Mona’s Cheese Biscuits” was a keeper.

You will need:

2 cups (about 8 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup butter, melted

1 cup regular sour cream

2 cups self-rising flour

Step by step:

HEAT oven to 425 degrees.

MIX all ingredients together and spoon into mini-muffin tins a tablespoon at a time. There’s no need to grease the tin.

BAKE 10 minutes or until golden brown.

COOL 5 minutes on a wire rack. The biscuits freeze well for up to a month and the recipe makes about 3 dozen. The biscuits have about 105 calories each.

Best time for annual chores

Now that you’ve had a week to adjust to daylight saving time, it’s time to catch up on annual chores with this list from the Housekeeping Channel.

1 Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. This also may be a good time to consider upgrading your detectors to take advantage of the newest technology. For more information, read primers at and

2 Practice your family’s escape plan and brush up on your fire safety know-how.

3 Purge your files. For guidance on what to keep and what to shred: If you tend to be a “keeper,” Monica Ricci offers six questions to consider as you purge at

4 Organize your storage. Switching stuff for a new season can leave storage in disarray; an hour or two invested now could save countless hours and frustration in the months ahead.

5 Have your furnace inspected and your chimney cleaned. Learn more at and

Seeking our readers’ best

Do you have a recipe, cleaning, gardening or clutter-busting household tip to share? Send them to 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” or “best recipe” in the subject line.

Best way to heat your home more efficiently

As cooler temps prompt us to turn our heating systems on, Duke Energy-Progress offers these tips for keeping toasty without busting our budgets.

Set your thermostat to the lowest comfortable setting: If you have a heat pump, adjust in small increments to keep the heat strip from turning on. This will keep your house comfortable while minimizing the use of the less energy-efficient resistance heat strip.

Switch your central heating unit to auto: Leaving the fan set to “on” can add to your monthly heating costs.

Choose the right spot: Install the thermostat on an inside wall, away from windows and doors.

Clean or replace filters every month: Dirty filters can increase operating costs by 20 percent.

Reset the temperature: Set your thermostat back 10 degrees at night. The lowered setting reduces the length of time the heating system operates throughout the night.

Run your fan: Running ceiling fans in winter distributes heat around a room. Be sure they are set in clockwise motion to pull warm air down.

Use fireplaces wisely: Close your damper when the fireplace is not in use. Consider glass doors to help prevent heat loss when your heating system is on.

Let heat circulate: Keep registers unblocked by furniture or draperies.

Avoid heat leak from windows: Use insulated or heavy curtains on north-facing windows. Keep curtains and shades closed at night and on cloudy days.

Readers’ best

Eileen Hays of Raleigh shares a tip for keeping candle wax from pooling on celebratory cakes. “Use small marshmallows as candleholders on a birthday cake when putting on candles. They will keep the wax from dripping on the frosting.”

Best of the tube

DIY Channel: Alison and the “Kitchen Crashers” crew find a Chicago couple with a kitchen that can only be described as depressing. From floor to ceiling, everything must go – including the tiles with little pregnant women on them. The comprehensive makeover includes new hardwood flooring, cabinets, countertops, quartz backsplash, storage shelves and custom stenciled window treatments. The final reveal leaves the homeowners practically speechless. “Kitchen Crashers” airs at 8 p.m. Monday.

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