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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentMay 2, 2014 

FOOD HOMEMADE-BACON 6 TB

Covering bacon with water for the first stage of cooking will help keep it more tender.

BILL HOGAN — MCT

Best for Mother’s Day

Lift Mom’s spirits with little love notes on her special day. You can print and tie free tags from the I Heart Naptime website onto any gifts or gift cards, her morning coffee mug and more. Check them out at http://nando.com/fp. Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 11.

Share your best spring recipe

We’re looking for simple spring recipes – no more than five ingredients. If you have one to share, send it to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. If we use it, you’ll be entered in our quarterly gift card drawing. Be sure to use precise measurements and to include your name, street address and city. Put “best recipe” in the subject line.

Best keepsake

Have the kiddos make Mom a keepsake she’ll always treasure. A post on the Better Homes and Gardens site suggests making a keepsake jar filled with all the reasons she’s loved. “Have kids write their thoughts, or have them tell you their ideas and you write them down. Roll up the strips of paper and put them in a jar. Tie a bow around the jar for added flair.”

You can see an example at http://nando.com/fq.

Seeking your best tips

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

Best for laundry

Simplify laundry day with a tip found on the I’m a Lazy Mom blog. Give each member of the family a mesh lingerie laundry bag and a hook or hanger. Have them put their dirty socks and underwear in the bag each night. On laundry day, wash the whole mesh zipped- up bag, and give it back! There will be no more need for sorting through and figuring out which socks are for which person. Love it! For more, visit http://nando.com/fr.

Best way to prepare bacon

A chef offers this recipe for perfectly crisped yet moist bacon, on the Huffington Post blog:

“Spread your bacon evenly in a pan on high heat and cover the bacon with water. You want just enough water to cover the bacon.”

As chef Bryan Roof explains, “Water keeps the initial cooking temperature low, which helps the bacon retain some of its moisture and keeps it tender. When the water starts to boil, lower the heat from high to medium. The water will simmer away, at which point you have to turn the heat down again from medium to low, until the bacon is browned, crisp and ready.”

Best way to clean your pillows

Your pillow can harbor all kinds of mites and allergens. The Clean My Space blog suggests that you launder your pillows three times per year and replace them every two years. The blogger says this method works for polyester and feather-filled pillows, but don’t use it on silk or foam pillows. We’ve excerpted the steps here:

1 Use a gentle detergent (preferably one that is scent-free).

2 Press out as much air as possible before loading the pillow into the washer.

3 For top-load machines, wash two pillows at a time for balance (or else you will hear a loud knocking sound coming from your washer).

4 Front-load washers don’t have an agitator, so you can do one to two per load. Set your machine to run a full cycle using warm water. Run a second spin cycle to help eliminate excess moisture. By removing excess moisture, you’ll help reduce mold growth and development of unpleasant odors.

5 To dry, place a tennis ball in a clean sock and tie sock to secure the tennis ball. Place two sock-wrapped tennis balls in the dryer. They will help beat out excess moisture. Put the pillows in the dryer on a low heat setting. It may take a few cycles to fully dry the pillows.

Blogger Melissa says you can test to see whether you need a new pillow by folding the pillow in half. If it bounces back readily, it’s still good. If it doesn’t bounce back, it’s time to replace. Learn these and other helpful tips at http://nando.com/fs.

Best of the tube

On DIY

Kid-friendly kitchen: Set the DVR to see first-time home renovators Ross and Jeni bring their unique parenting style to their kitchen renovation. Their goal with the renovation is to create a kid-friendly kitchen where their children can help with cooking and meal preparation. Things get complicated when their three cranky kids and the construction crew cross paths. “My First Renovation” airs at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

Send news and photos to The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, NC 27602;

email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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