Home & Garden

Top Drawer

You can turn colorful leaves into a festive fall porch display. See how at  http://nando.com/lp.
You can turn colorful leaves into a festive fall porch display. See how at http://nando.com/lp. PAPER-SOURCE.COM VIA MCT

Best-tasting chicken

Dena Aretakis-Horn of Raleigh wrote in to share her recipe for Tarragon Chicken.

You will need:

4 to 6 boneless chicken breasts or thighs

2 teaspoons fresh tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dry tarragon)

Salt and pepper (Or Mrs. Dash Table Blend seasoning)

Olive oil

One lemon, squeezed

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Add tarragon. Sauté the chicken on both sides in a frying pan with olive oil until browned. Add fresh lemon juice when the chicken is almost ready.

Best skills for homeowners

There are apparently 47 skills that everyone needs to survive homeownership these days, according to the do-it-yourself experts at the This Old House blog.

Among the many skills you need to know are how to: unclog a sink; remove a refrigerator; avoid stripping a screw (and how to remove it if you do); find a stud; remove a broken lightbulb (hint: it involves a potato); hardwire a light fixture; and bypass the electric garage opener when the power is out.

But you already know all those things, right? If you don’t, This Old House has detailed instructions and tips for getting out of some of the stickiest and most costly home maintenance situations. Visit http://nando.com/lp to learn more.

(And if that’s still not your thing, there’s always tip No. 8, which is my personal favorite: How to hire a handyman.)

Best for guest rooms

The holidays will be here before we know it, which means overnight guests can’t be far behind. Make their stay memorable with these tips for creating an inviting, welcoming guest room, courtesy of Home and Garden Television.

1 Ensure that guests don’t miss any planned activities (or an early morning flight) by placing a small clock in their room.

2 Use a deep basket to stash guest towels, a robe and extra blankets. Place it in the room where guests won’t overlook it so they have everything they need to freshen up upon arrival.

3 Hang a small mirror in the guest room to provide a spot for touching up makeup or putting on jewelry.

4 Take a cue from five-star hotels and stock the guest room with mugs, a teapot and small packets of coffee and tea so guests can help themselves to a warm cup whenever they’d like.

5 A low dish of apples not only adds a pop of color; it also puts healthful snacks within guests’ easy reach.

6 Add inexpensive blinds, roller shades or ready-made draperies to any windows that aren’t covered. A guest is on vacation and will appreciate a dark room for sleeping in.

7 If your overnight guests are family or close friends, it’s a nice touch to display photos of happy times spent together. Everyone enjoys a trip down memory lane.

See the full list of tips at http://nando.com/lq.

Best fall porch displays

Add a festive fall touch to your porch entryway by checking out an awesome collection of 90 Fall Porch Decorating Ideas found on Pinterest. You’ll find ways to turn everything from leaves, pumpkins, flowers, urns, baskets, rakes and more into beautiful and colorful fall displays. Check out the pictorial at http://nando.com/lp.

Seeking your best tips

Waste not, want not. We at Top Drawer love to get double use out of single products. If you’ve got a great idea for repurposing an item around the home, we’d love to share it. Please send tips to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. If we print your idea, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift card. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “best new use” in the subject line.

Best of the tube


Dream home nightmare: Lazarus and Evonna’s dream home turned into a nightmare when a foundation problem drained all of their renovation money. Now they want to relocate to a move-in-ready property with plenty of room for their three kids, but their dated interiors make their home a tough sell. Jonathan uncovers a potentially costly problem during the bathroom demolition and later settles a painting wager with Lazarus on the basketball court. Meanwhile, Drew slowly wins the couple’s trust, one house tour at a time. “Buying and Selling” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

Send news and photos to

The News & Observer, P.O. Box 191, Raleigh, N.C. 27602; email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.