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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentDecember 6, 2013 

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Check out the sparkle of North Carolina’s Executive Mansion while it’s decked out in its holiday finest from Dec. 12-15.

CHRIS SEWARD — cseward@newsobserver.com

Best time to visit the governor’s place

Check out the sparkle of North Carolina’s Executive Mansion while it’s decked out in its holiday finest from Dec. 12-15. Visitors can view Gov. Pat McCrory’s official state residence while enjoying holiday music provided by choral groups from across the state. Holiday Open House tours run noon-8 p.m. Dec. 12; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Dec. 13-14; and 1-4 p.m. Dec. 15. Reservations aren’t required, but it’s best to arrive at least one hour prior to closing to beat the crowds.

To learn more about group or individual tours of the Executive Mansion throughout the year, visit http://nando.com/dp.

Best historic tour

Take a stroll through downtown Raleigh’s Oakwood neighborhood during the 42nd annual Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour. This year’s tour is 1-7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, offering visitors a chance to peek inside more than a dozen private homes dating back to the late 1800s. Visitors set their own pace, and docents are on hand at each home to answer questions. Tour tickets cost $30 and are available at the Tucker House (418 N. Person) or the Oakwood Inn (411 N. Bloodworth St.). The event raises money for the preservation of the neighborhood. Visit http://nando.com/dq to learn more.

Best holiday craft

I admit it. I’m a clunky crafter. But every once in a while I see a project that piques my inner artist. It happened again recently when I was decorating our home for Christmas and came across a post on the Living Well, Spending Less blog. Blogger Ruth came up with an adorable way to transform a wire coat hanger into a festive, ornamental wreath.

You will need

• Ornaments in varying sizes (she used about 70 and recommends shatter-proof ornaments if kids will be helping)

• Wire hanger

• Pliers

• Glue gun

• Wired ribbon for bow

Step-by-step

1 Use pliers to shape the wire hangers into a circle.

2 Untwist the top of the hanger and carefully slide the ornaments onto the wire from both ends, varying sizes and colors as you go. (Tip: Ruth suggests securing the first ornaments in place with hot glue.)

3 Once the hanger is full, re-twist the top of the hanger into place.

4 Use pliers to bend the top of the hanger into a hook, and shape a pretty bow out of the wire ribbon to finish it off.

You can see pictures of the process and the finished wreath at http://nando.com/dr.

Best blog for the holidays

Raleigh’s own Pretty Handy Girl has enlisted the help of several guest bloggers to come up with 30 inexpensive holiday-themed crafts and gifts that you can make. You’ll find tips on making a decorative bird house, a rustic wood cake stand, decorated clipboards, fabric coasters, festive room sprays, tea bags, chalkboard mugs, dyed and stenciled scarves (gorgeous!), monogrammed ornaments and a really cool, 3-D snowflake ornament.

So instead of worrying what you’re going to buy and how much you’re going to spend this season, head on over to http://nando.com/ds and start creating!

Best recipe

The Crockin’ Girls are known for their simplicity and love of comfy food made in the slow cooker. A recent post on their website features a holiday ham made with just three ingredients.

You will need

1 ham, pre-cooked, bone-in, spiral cut

3 cups brown sugar

1 can pineapple tidbits, undrained

Step-by-step

Cover the bottom of the crock with brown sugar.

Place ham on top of the brown sugar and add the pineapple tidbits with the juice. Sprinkle ham with more brown sugar.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours (watch the time so that it does not dry out)

Check out the reviews and the rest of their blog at: http://nando.com/dt.

Best twist on a holiday staple

Zip up your holiday Chex Mix recipe with a festive twist we found on the Taylor House blog. The Santa Hat Chex Mix features red melts, Bugles, marshmallows, nonpareil sprinkles, craisins, peanuts, M&Ms, pretzels, white chocolate chips and more. One look and your guests will be salivating to dig in to this scrumptious-looking mix! You can find the recipe at http://nando.com/du.

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Jasmine and Jose both grew up in crowded, low-income apartments in New York City. But their hard word has earned them enough to buy a multi-unit home they can share with her parents. After property expert Egypt Sherrod shows them a few houses, these lifelong renters are shocked at how little their nest egg will buy. Egypt then shows them a higher-priced option in their dream neighborhood that could be a real moneymaker. What will they choose? “Property Virgins” airs at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

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