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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentJanuary 10, 2014 

Woolite Heavy Traffic carpet cleaner can be the perfect solution for cleaning dirty grout.

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Best for grout

Turn grout grime to a clean shine with this tip from the Happy, Hectic Life blog. Blogger Caroline says she’s found Woolite Heavy Traffic carpet cleaner to be the perfect solution for cleaning dirty grout. She sprays it on, lets it sit for a few minutes and scrubs the grout lines with a brush before wiping it clean with a damp rag. “If you have some dirty grout like I do, I definitely recommend this,” she writes. You can see before and after pictures at http://nando.com/eh.

Best for mattresses

The next time you strip your bed linens for laundering, freshen your mattress by sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda directly on top of it. Let it sit for a few hours, and vacuum up the powder before putting the linens back on. Find this and other cleaning tips that use baking soda at http://nando.com/ei.

Best recipe

Cheryl Stevens of Raleigh shares a Broccoli-Cheese Casserole that would make a hearty side for cold-weather meals.

Ingredients:

1 large bag (or two boxes) frozen chopped broccoli

2 cups instant rice

2 (10-ounce) cans undiluted cream of mushroom soup

1 (15-ounce) jar of Cheez Whiz

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a glass casserole dish and bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Or microwave uncovered in six-minute increments until rice is cooked, stirring after each six minutes.

Best for cleanup

Make a snap out of cabinet cleanup with this slick tip offered up on the This Old House blog. “Place a layer of wax paper on top of upper kitchen cabinets where dust and grease particles gather. Every few months, switch out the paper for a fresh sheet.” Find other household uses for wax paper at http://nando.com/ej.

Best for organizing

Get your home office in tip-top shape with these tips from Better Homes and Gardens:

Create a mail station: Set up mailboxes on a desk, wall or bulletin board. Or give each member of your family his or her own labeled box, bin or slot.

Stay on schedule: Hang a large monthly calendar in a spot where everyone can see and use it. Choose a paper calendar or dry-erase version, and encourage everyone to write important events, deadlines and reminders.

Organize office supplies: Outfit a desk drawer near your main working area with a divided tray or multiple small bins. Limit the number of office supplies in each compartment. Label each compartment with an adhesive label.

Get rid of junk: Test all writing utensils. Toss everything that doesn’t work perfectly. Group similar items (pens, pencils, markers, etc.) in canisters for easy access.

Follow BH&G’s month-by-month storage plan at http://nando.com/ek.

Best for scarves

Place shower rings on a closet hanger and loop a scarf through each ring for neat and efficient storage of your scarf collection. Thanks to the Be Different, Act Normal blog for the idea. http://nando.com/el

Best for lighting

Add dramatic illumination above your cabinets with rope lighting set to timers that turn on at dusk and off at bedtime. You can find rope lighting online or at big box retailers. http://nando.com/em

Designer’s best

Barry Dixon of Traditional Home says simple tricks of the eye can make small spaces seem bigger. “To make a room feel larger, use a round rug on the floor. The circle represents infinity, and a round rug brings that esoteric idea of ‘no boundaries’ into reality as a visual element.”

Best of the tube

On HGTV

Finding a “forever” home: With their daughters’ education in mind, Kathy and Michael need to move, and they will have to fetch top dollar for their current home in order to buy into the exclusive neighboring school district. But their property is nowhere near the top of its class. Jonathan redoes the home’s tired interiors and transforms the dated kitchen into a culinary showpiece. Meanwhile, Drew leads the couple on a search for their forever home. Kathy and Michael soon discover they’ll need to be flexible with either the property or the price. “Buying and Selling with the Property Brothers” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Send news and photos to The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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