Top Drawer: The best of everything for your home and garden

CorrespondentDecember 27, 2013 

Homes Right Knitwear

This product image courtesy of Ferm Living shows knitted baskets. These baskets are made of cotton rope and make interesting textured storage pieces.

FERM LIVING — AP

Best craft

If you missed your window for getting your child’s teacher a Christmas gift, send a New Year’s remembrance instead. The Projects and Polkadots blog offers up a cute, easy-to-make Post-it frame that teachers can use to keep notes on their desk.

You will need:

4-by-6-inch acrylic frame stand (check dollar stores)

Cute scrapbook paper

Ribbon

Embellishments

Post-it notes

How to make it:

Cut decorative scrapbook paper to the size of the acrylic frame. Turn the frame so that it stands vertically and glue ribbon across the top front. Glue an embellishment of your choice to the center of the ribbon.

Glue a stack of Post-it notes to the center of the frame below the ribbon. You can see an example of the finished project at http://nando.com/e7.

Best recipe

Start 2014 off with a sweet treat with this chocolate chip pound cake recipe from Raleigh reader Amber Jones.

1 box yellow cake mix

8 ounces sour cream

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs

1 small box instant chocolate pudding

1 cup oil

1 cup chocolate chips (Jones likes Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate)

Heat oven to 325 F. Mix all ingredients except chocolate chips. Fold those in last. Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan.

Bake 60 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Best New Year’s resolutions

HGTV offers up a list of five home resolutions to make your home more beautiful and efficient in the coming year. We’ve excerpted some here:

1 Streamline the stuff: Resolve to go room-by-room periodically clearing anything that you don’t use, wear or love, and donate it to charity. Stash useful (but not beautiful) items such as DVDs, remotes and those kicked-off shoes in simple woven baskets. Group similar items together on sleek trays, says Stuart McCormick, a Washington, D.C., designer.

2 Make it safe: Check your house for radon. This colorless, odorless gas causes about 21,000 lung cancer deaths each year from the radioactive particles it traps in your lungs as you breathe, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Test kits cost as little as $20 at your local hardware store. In addition, install carbon monoxide and fire detectors on every floor of your home. Clean your dryer vents of lint; it’s highly combustible.

3 Shrink your bills (and your carbon footprint): Remember your mom’s advice, and switch off the lights when you leave a room. Turn off your air conditioner when you leave the house, and dial your heater down to 55 degrees at night. Install compact fluorescent bulbs and low-flow showerheads. Don’t run the dishwasher or washing machine until it is full. Turn off your power strips and/or set your home computer to revert to sleep mode when not in use.

4 Work out a weekly system for keeping your house clean: Jeff Campbell, author of “Speed Cleaning,” says these tips will keep the mess under control:

•  Daily: Dishes go in the dishwasher every night. Dirty clothes go in the hamper, and jackets or clean clothes are hung in the closet. Bring everything back to its assigned place.

•  Weekly: Clean your entire house using the schedule at http://nando.com/e8.

5 Get your place ready for entertaining: Why not give the areas you entertain in a little update? One easy update that makes your home seem more “finished” is the addition of plants, McCormick says. “They bring in new energy and help clean the air. And it’s a great way to decorate if you’re on a budget.” Pick an underused color in the room, and add more of it in the form of a new pillow or throw. A colorful rug or runner can also help anchor your space. Last, rearrange your furniture so it is oriented in conversation groups and not just facing the television. That just might boost your odds for real conversation and connection in the New Year.

You can see the entire list http://nando.com/e9.

Seeking our reader’s best

We are seeking a fresh batch of useful tips for cleaning, organizing, cooking and gardening around the home. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card. Send your tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” in the subject line.

Winner of the quarterly gift card is Sandy Galloway of Raleigh, whose name was chosen randomly from among those whose tips were published in Top Drawer. Congratulations!

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Coming home: After living and working abroad, Megan and hockey pro Greg are ready to settle down and start a family. They want a sunny, open space with a backyard and man cave in Greg’s childhood neighborhood. Unfortunately, the couple’s big ideas don’t match their budget, and their indecision soon proves to be a big challenge. See how it all shakes out at 8 p.m. Saturday on “Property Brothers.”

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