Top Drawer

Top Drawer: The best stuff for your home and garden

CorrespondentJanuary 17, 2014 


January is a good time to prepare the vegetable garden by adding compost in preparation for sowing seeds in February.


Best for gardens

The Orange County Green Gardeners say January is a good time to prepare the vegetable garden by adding compost and working it into the soil. Plant asparagus crowns this month when soil is dry enough to work. Prepare to sow beets, carrots, peas, lettuce, mustard, radish, spinach, Irish potatoes and turnips in early February. Grow cold-tolerant leafy veggies such as lettuce, spinach and collards, too. Some may succumb to frost, but it’s worth it to have fresh greens for salads.

Contact a Green Gardener in Chapel Hill with your gardening questions from noon to 2 p.m. Mondays through Fridays at 919-962-2393.

Best uses for Magic Erasers

The Raining Hot Coupons blog has 10 creative uses for Magic Eraser blocks. Make sure to wear gloves when using the erasers. We’ve excerpted a few of the suggestions here:

1 Clean the outside of small appliances such as stand mixers, toasters and slow cookers.

2 Coffee mugs stained with years of coffee and lipstick? A Magic Eraser will take those marks right off.

3 Use them to remove rust from virtually any surface.

4 Do you have a sticky label on a jar that just won’t give? Give the jar a good soak in hot water and then take the Magic Eraser to it to remove the residue.

5 Cut the eraser in half, and leave it in your toilet bowl overnight. With a good soak, it will remove toilet bowl rings.

6 These sponges will get your grout and tile clean. Simply use a wet sponge and start scrubbing; you’ll be amazed at the dirt removal.

7 Remove marks from pen, permanent marker and any other drawing tools from walls and floors.

Visit to see the entire list.

Best for stains

The University of Illinois Extension Service compiled a set of nifty web links with ways to deal with virtually any stain in your home. Visit to browse a list of stains from A to Z and find solutions for removing an array of stubborn messes, from alcoholic beverages and sauces to makeup concealer and hair dye, paint and glue.

For example, you can remove sodas and syrup from washable fabrics with a combination of liquid dishwashing detergent, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, an enzyme presoak and bleach, the extension service says. Or remove oil-based paint from carpet by using a combination of alcohol, detergent and hydrogen peroxide. The stain guide walks you through the ingredients and steps of each stain removal process.

Best slow cooker preparations

As a busy mom, I’m always looking for ways to cut time in the kitchen. I recently came across a Facebook post touting 10 easy-to-assemble slow cooker meals. With names like Savory Pepper Steak, Teriyaki Pork Chops and Honey-Bourbon Chicken, they had me quickly intrigued. I like the idea of assembling the ingredients ahead of time and popping the prepackaged meals in the freezer for use later on. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but they sound tasty. If you’d like to try them for yourself, visit

Best for mixers

Contain splatters from hand mixers by making a shield with a paper plate. Cut holes in the center of the plate. Hold the plate against the bottom of the mixer, and insert the beaters into the mixer. You can see an example at

Best Super Bowl recipe

Everyone knows that the menu is as important as the game when it comes to Super Bowl parties. With that in mind, we’re inviting you to share your favorite simple recipes for scoring a touchdown on game day. Send them to Be sure to include your name and street address. Put “Super recipe” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


Inside the Glass House: Last year, Fanuka Inc. replaced the rooftop solarium in an exclusive penthouse on Central Park West, but the remaining renovations prove to be a challenge for Stephen and new project manager Peter. Every inch of the apartment is beautifully finished with built-in walnut cabinetry and rare materials like wallpaper that’s actually made of stone. “Million Dollar Contractor” airs at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

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