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

Top Drawer

CorrespondentMay 16, 2014 


Create a rustic look on your patio or porch by repurposing a tall tree stump into a side table.


Best for burgers

With Memorial Day and holiday cookouts around the corner, Marvin Woll of Raleigh wrote in with a tip to keep those holiday burgers from falling apart on the grill.

“Take one and a quarter pound of lean hamburger, one egg and four saltine crackers. Put the hamburger in a bowl and add the egg to it. Knead the egg into the hamburger until it is well mixed. Then put the four crackers on a piece of wax paper and use a rolling pin to finely crush the crackers. Add the cracker crumbs to the meat and knead until well mixed. Make patties to your size preference.

“Always be sure to turn the hamburgers every four or five minutes to keep them from burning on one side. ”

Readers’ best

If your inner germaphobe makes you feel antsy about using the communal hand towel in a neighbor’s powder room, cheer up. Carrie Jo Wintermute of Raleigh shared a trick she employs whenever guests are expected.

“Arrange fresh washcloths on a small tray or basket by your sink. Add another small basket where guests can put their used cloths. Your visitors will not have to share a hand towel, and they will appreciate your thoughtfulness!”

Designer’s best

Got a teen who is itching to express him or herself in a creative way? Use these tips from the Budget Decorator website to help them get started on a bedroom makeover.

Add color: Use color in a teen’s room with much more abandon than you would in a public area. Teens respond to color and pattern. Paint each wall a different color with the most dramatic color directly behind the bed. Don’t forget the ceiling. Remember, warm colors like red and orange energize a space, while cool colors such as blue and purple bring calm. Match your color scheme to your teen’s needs and personality

Add pattern: Pattern adds energy to a room, and no one thrives off of an energetic atmosphere better than a teen! To keep the look from being too busy, try pairing a print with a geometric, and temper the look with a solid. Repeat the room’s colors in the patterns to tie them together.

Organize: Plastic bins or baskets can go a long way to corraling school papers, makeup, jewelry and knickknacks. Use drawstring bags, hooks attached to the walls or inside closets or boxes under the bed for hobby items. Make sure the room has plenty of hangers.

Make the bed a star: Make throw pillows for it, pick up a couple of yards of fleece in a funky print to make a blanket throw, paint a headboard panel behind it in a contrasting color. Paint the bed frame itself one of the brighter accent colors in the room. For girls, pick up an inexpensive netting canopy, or hang your own fabric from the ceiling with small hooks. In a boy’s room, less is more. Solid colors, fewer pillows and a place to set their sodas and snacks will all be appreciated!

Let your teen’s personality shine through: Find a way to display awards, trophies or certificates that show what is important to them. Don’t judge whether your teen’s decorating taste is boring or loud or tacky … even if she favors black walls. (Chalkboard paint is the perfect compromise!) Let her experiment and have fun decorating her space!

You can check out these tips and pictures at

Best new use for old tree stumps

Create a rustic look on your patio or porch by repurposing a tall tree stump into a cool-looking side table. The Red Head Can Decorate blogger says she saved a stump recently when she had to have some trees cut down. The result, after debugging, sanding and covering it with multiple layers of polyurethane, is stunning.

Check out the transformation at

Seeking your best tips

We’re interested in sharing your favorite simple recipes and shortcuts for cleaning, gardening, cooking and organizing. Send your tips to You’ll be entered in a quarterly drawing for a gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best tips” or “best recipe” in the subject line.

Best of the tube

On DIY channel:

Deck disaster: Matt and Natalie are both firefighters. Tired of watching Matt “repair” their disastrous deck, Natalie has decided it’s time to start over with the help of professionals. Paul and his crew arrive just in time to save Matt from his decking mistakes and turn the space into a point of pride. “Disaster Decks” airs at 10 a.m. Saturday.

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