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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentApril 4, 2014 


Use a slow-cooker for this easy pot roast recipe.


Best for updating meds

As temperatures warm and attention turns to spring cleaning routines, don’t forget your medicine cabinet. Nutrition researcher Susan Mitmesser, who works for Sundown Naturals, a maker of nutritional supplements, offers four tips for cleaning out that oft-forgotten space.

• Discard anything expired, discontinued or recalled.

• Replace anything you’ve run out of like sunscreen, insect repellant, heating and cooling packs and a first aid kit. You should always have those items on hand. And while you are at it, don’t forget to check the batteries in your digital thermometer.

• Throw out any vitamins or supplements you’ve stopped taking because they are too hard to swallow.

• If you have young children, make sure you place medicine bottles on higher shelves; their contents may look like candy.

Best for thawing out

After a harsh winter, our homes have taken a beating. The folks at Traveler’s insurance have come up with a checklist to help homeowners protect their homes from future damage.

Roof This winter was rough on your roof. Consider hiring a licensed professional to inspect your roof for damage from ice and snow that can cause leaks. Clean gutters and downspouts so water can move away from your home’s foundation.

Driveway Repair cracked, broken or uneven driveways and paths to provide a level walking surface. This will not only prevent damage to cars, but also keep guests safer.

Yard Remove dead trees and keep healthy trees and bushes trimmed and away from utility wires. Safely store oil and gas for lawn equipment and tools in a ventilated, locked area to reduce the risk of accidents.

Patio Check deck or patio for possible deterioration and safety hazards, such as loose boards and protruding nails.

Water flow Beyond cleaning out your gutters and downspouts, use springtime to determine how rain and melted snow flows through your yard and around your home. You can protect your home by keeping rain as far away as possible.

Best recipe

Little says “comfort food” to me like a good old pot roast. Vanessa Durham of Manson, N.C., shared her favorite, slow-cooker version.

You will need:

1 5- to 6-pound beef roast (Top Drawer likes chuck roast), cut in chunks

1 large onion, cut up

1 (12-ounce) bag of carrots, peeled and cut up

4 to 5 medium red potatoes, washed, skin on and cut up

1 package of your favorite prepared slow-cooker mix for beef


Place roast in slow cooker. Add onions, carrots and potatoes. Add slow-cooker mix. Stir well. Cook on high 4 to 6 hours. (Important: Do not remove lid until time is up.)

Readers’ best

Carrie Jo Wintermute of Raleigh wrote in to share one of her favorite organizing tricks.

“Here’s a tip that saves lots of time and effort when grocery shopping – it just requires a little initial effort. Type up a list of all the items you buy on a regular basis from your favorite grocery store, organized by aisle. When you are ready to make a grocery list, just circle the items you need to purchase that visit. When you go shopping, you can very quickly target the items because you know exactly what aisle they are on.”

Best for spring

We love this idea for spring celebrations found on the House Beautiful website.

“Have a party where every guest is asked to bring a plant of one color – say, purple – for an instant garden with a little story of friendship behind each plant.” This would be a great way to stock a new homeowner’s flower garden or a fun plant-swap for friends.

Best for bathrooms

Good Housekeeping suggests an easy and inexpensive way to freshen up stale bathroom decor: Hang a new shower curtain.

Designer’s best

Jackie Morra, a Canadian designer who does a lot of talks and consulting on the HGTV home show circuit, offers this tip for spring decor. “Get a spring/summer area rug and put the fall one away for a completely new look so you won’t have to use the same one all year. Your spring/summer rug can be lighter in tone and in weight as well with spring colors that are neutrals so you can add a new pop of color each year. Seasonal neutrals include green, blues, whites and yellows.”

Seeking your best tips

We would love to share your simple recipes and useful tips for cleaning, organizing and gardening around your home. If we use your tip, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a VISA gift card. Send your tips to Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” or “best recipe” in the subject line. Please include precise quantities of ingredients in recipes.

Best of the tube


Budget buster: Danielle, Chad and three rambunctious youngsters share a tiny bedroom in his mom’s house after a stint abroad. They need room to breathe and desire a private, detached home with four bedrooms, spacious kitchen and playroom, plus a nice backyard. Jonathan and Drew Scott help them find a budget-friendly dream home that can be renovated quickly. But costs quickly become an obstacle. Find out how it all plays out when “Property Brothers” airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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