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Top Drawer: The best stuff for your home and garden

Invest a little time today to make a homemade Valentine’s Day gift that will infuse some romance, such as bath salts.
Invest a little time today to make a homemade Valentine’s Day gift that will infuse some romance, such as bath salts. THE KANSAS CITY STAR

Best Valentine’s craft

Invest a little time today to make a homemade Valentine’s gift that will infuse some romance into your home and relationship for weeks to come. A post on the Everything Etsy blog gives step-by-step directions on how to make lavender bath salts. This may be a fun craft to have the kids help you with.

You will need:

1 cup Epsom salt

1 cup Himalayan Sea Salt (pink-tinted salt is suggested, if you can find it)

1/2 cup Kosher salt

1-3 tablespoons of dried lavender buds (optional; can often be found at farmer’s markets and specialty food stores)

10-20 drops of lavender essential oil

2-5 drops of purple food coloring (optional, but recommended)

Mix Epsom salt, sea salt, Kosher salt and the dried lavender buds together in a large bowl.

Add lavender essential oil and food coloring and mix it well. A little food coloring goes a long way, so start with a couple drops, mix, and then add more to get the desired look. Once you’re done mixingmix a little more! It needs it!

Spoon your bath salt into beautiful jars or bottles, top it off with twine or ribbon and you are finished!

You can see a pictorial of the process and the finished product at: nando.com/x0

Best reader recipe

If you missed out on snagging that prime spot at a local restaurant tonight, never fear. You can prepare a warm and satisfying meal for your Valentine at home, courtesy of Raleigh cookbook author Jeanie DeGroff.

To make Stuffed Ravioli, you will need:

1 package chopped spinach, cooked and drained well

1 pound of loose sausage (spicy to taste)

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Ravioli pasta shells

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first four ingredients well. Partially cook pasta shells, just until pliable enough to fill.

Fill each pasta shell with the mixture and arrange ravioli in a baking dish that has a thin layer of spaghetti sauce. Top shells with a spaghetti sauce or marinara sauce of your choice. Bake for about 45 minutes. Sprinkle with Romano cheese and serve.

DeGroff is the author of “Everyone Brings Something to the Table: Time-Honored Recipes that Celebrate Family, Friends and Cooking From the Heart.”

Seeking your best recipes for sweets

All this talk of Valentine’s Day has us craving sweets. We’d love to help our readers prepare some sweet treats with your help. If you have a simple dessert recipe that’s a hit with your crowd, we’d like to share it. Send your recipes, using exact measurements, to topdrawer@newsobserver.com. If we use it, you’ll be entered in our quarterly drawing for a gift certificate. Be sure to include your name, street address and city. Put “Best dessert” in the subject line.

Best for kitchen prep

Betty Anne Lennon of Raleigh wrote in to share a tip for keeping her kitchen tidy during meal preparation. “I use an old Jellyroll pan (or cookie sheet with a 1-inch rim) that has lost its finish to put under a small chopping board on my countertop when chopping vegetables, slicing juicy fruit, or meat with drippings. This keeps both my countertops and floor clean, and I can take the pan to the trash to easily empty. The pan can then be thoroughly cleaned in the sink. This has saved a lot of cleanup, and my floors aren’t covered with dinner prep.”

Best for nonskinny jeans and boots

Don’t give up on wearing nonskinny jeans with your favorite boots. A post on Listotic.com shares the secret for getting a skinny-jeans-boot-look with wide, boot-cut jeans. You should cuff the jeans just a little above your ankle. Grab the back portion of the cuff tightly and wrap it back around to the front of your leg. Pull a sock over the newly cuffed jean leg to hold the cuff in place. Pull your boot over the sock and cuff and repeat with the other leg. To see this method demonstrated, step-by-step, visit: nando.com/x1

Best for laundry

Simplify laundry day with this tip from the I’m A Lazy Mom blog. Give each member of the family a zippered mesh lingerie laundry bag and a hook, which can be hung on the back of their door or on the wall. Have them put their dirty socks and underwear in the bag each night. On laundry day, have them bring the bag down to the laundry room. Toss the bag with detergent in the wash and launder the whole mesh bag (zipped up). When dry, give the bag back to each family member and have them return their clean clothes to the proper space. As the blogger states, “No more sorting through and figuring out which socks are for which person.”

Check this tip and others out at: nando.com/fr

Best of the tube

DIY Network

Outdated kitchen rehab: Rick and Becca Graf recently purchased a home that needs a lot of work, including a complete overhaul of the ugly, outdated kitchen. In an attempt to bring the room into the 21st century, Rick and Becca must remove the birdhouse wallpaper, stenciled cabinets that are falling apart, laminate floors, and wood-paneled walls. Their DIY skills have fared well in the past on other projects, so they’re confident they can get this done in no time. However, setbacks along the way threaten to derail their well-laid plans. “Renovation Realities” airs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

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

email topdrawer@newsobserver.com.

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