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

Top Drawer

May 9, 2014 


Prune roses in spring and midsummer. Here’s an example of a proper cut on a rose bush.


Best tip for

spring cleaning has a list of helpful spring cleaning tips that includes an annual ritual that will help keep bathroom grime at bay. Don’t forget to vacuum and wipe the walls and ceilings. “If you clear them annually of the almost imperceptible grime that builds up, then you won’t have to deal with the impossible-to-remove kind that can accumulate if they’re left untouched for a few years. Vacuum first, using the brush attachment. Then, wipe them with all-purpose cleaner, which is fine for painted walls. Don’t forget the wall that’s behind you every morning when you do your hair and makeup; it could be coated in hairspray, perfume or other beauty products.” See the entire list at

Best garden inspiration

Seven private gardens in Cary, Raleigh and Wake Forest will be open to visitors May 16-18 as part of the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days program. See cloud-pruned cypress trees, a rain garden, Victorian gazebo, hand-built arbors and fences, innovative water features and more. Open Days, held in conjunction with the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh, will take place rain or shine and no reservations are required. Admission to each private garden is $7; children 12 and under are free. Discount tickets (six gardens for $45) are available at the Arboretum, 4415 Beryl Road, through Thursday.

Visit Click “Open Days” for more info.

Best for

scorched foods

Ann Rogerson Weaver of Kenly shares two tips that are worth a try next time you scorch a pan of food.

“If you scorch a pan of food, immediately plunge the pot into a few inches of cold water. Wait a few minutes and gently pour the food into another pot. Do not use a spoon to scrape the food out. This process removes the scorched taste and the scorched part stays in the original pot.”

Then, “Remove scorched food by first scraping all you can out and then reheat the pot. Pour in a half cup of Coke. Allow it to boil for 2-3 minutes. Let the pot cool. Most of the scorched food should come out easily with slight scrubbing.”

Best for roses

The DIY home and gardening website Craftsy offers these tips for knowing when and how to prune roses. We’ve excerpted the step-by-step tips here:

1 You can prune roses anytime in early spring after threat of heavy frost. Prune again, midsummer, to encourage a second blooming. Many also advocate pruning in the fall to clean upafter summer.

2 Remove any dead, aging wood to encourage new growth. Take out old growth, dead wood and diseased canes and leaves to help with air circulation to the center of the plant. Using a small saw makes the task easier. When trimming, cut at an angle at 1/4 inch above a bud eye facing out.

3 Deadheading is the process of removing dead blossoms so the plant can put energy into making new ones. In the summertime, the more you deadhead your plants, the more flowers you will have. Do this as blossoms die. Deadhead just above the five leaf branches. Always remove leaves and rose debris from under the plant, as it will encourage disease if it stays there.

4 Climbing roses don’t need to be trimmed back as drastically. Take out weak canes, dead wood and diseased branches and leaves. You can trim back offshoots too. Don’t reduce the size as much as you would with a shrub rose.

For more tips, visit and register for an account.

Best dust busters

Keeping dust at bay is a constant struggle in most homes. Home Depot offers these tips for keeping dust bunnies from getting out of control.

• To lift off dust on pleated shades and mini-blinds, wipe a new paintbrush over the slats vertically, then horizontally.

• Dust top to bottom, as dust will fall as you’re cleaning. Microfiber cloths work best for dusting.

• Lint rollers clean dusty lampshades.

• Dryer sheets clean computer and TV screens because they zap static electricity.

Best dessert for Mother’s Day

I’ve never been big on bananas, so I was surprised when a fellow PTA mom managed to wow me (and about 65 hungry teachers) with her relatively easy and delicious rendition of Banana Pudding. Today would be a perfect time to put this recipe together to serve to Mom tomorrow for Mother’s Day. Many thanks to Amber Jones of Raleigh for sharping this recipe.

You will need:

4 or 5 bananas

1 large box of sugar-free instant vanilla pudding

1 regular container of Cool Whip

Reduced-fat Nilla wafers

2 cups skim milk

Mix pudding and milk until thickened. Add half the Cool Whip and mix until combined. Layer wafers, sliced bananas, half the pudding. Repeat. Top with remaining Cool Whip. (Note: Tastes best if made the day before.)

Best for cupcakes

Dads, spend the afternoon baking cupcakes with the kids and then fashion them into a cupcake bouquet that’s sure to make her smile. The 52 Kitchen Adventures blog lays out a game plan for impressing Mom with a simple planter, a Styrofoam ball, tissue paper, toothpicks, icing, cupcake liners and cupcakes. Check out the step-by-step directions at

Seeking your best tips

We’re getting some great suggestions for readers’ favorite recipes and cleaning, organizing, decorating and time-saving home and garden tips. But we want more. If we publish your tip, we’ll enter you in a quarterly drawing for a gift card. Please include precise measurements for recipes and keep them brief. Send your best tips or recipe, along with your name and city, to; subject line: “best tips” or “best recipe.”

Best of the tube


Floors: As they finish up the interior of the Dollar house, Nicole works in the bedrooms to put up all new walls and ceilings and to remove the black-and-white linoleum flooring and patch a burn mark in the hardwoods. The staircase needs attention as well, so Nicole repairs some broken treads and comes up with a cool idea for turning an odd space into storage. Watch “Rehab Addict” at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

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


News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service