DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS

DOWN TO EARTH SIMPLE LIVING FORUMS
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25 July 2013

Cleaning the silver

I spent some time sorting out my silver cutlery recently. It was all over the place. When we're here alone, Hanno and I use few knives and forks but we often have visitors and then we need quite a few. I don't have to have everything matching but it's nice to achieve it every so often. I didn't have one full set in the drawer we use every day. We had some in there and the rest all thrown into a bottom drawer. So I sorted out both drawers, divided up the daily use and the occasional use items and then started cleaning it all.




I hand-washed the stainless steel utensils, the silver plated ones went into the kitchen sink with a sheet of aluminium foil, water, bicarb and salt. It sat in there for about an hour and most of the silver came out bright and shiny. I had to hand clean about a dozen forks and spoons but the rest of them were fine without any extra treatment. Some of the really old utensils will never shine again but I've kept them anyway. Now I have a set to serve six people in the daily use drawer and the rest is divided into sets and wrapped in zip lock bags in the bottom drawer. If we need more, they're clean and ready for use.

How do you organise the tasks you only have to do once a year or six months? Are they entered on your calendar, do you do them at the same time every year?  Please share your secrets with us.

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I'm talking about writing for publication at the Reality Bites Literary Festival today. It's booked out but if you've already made a booking, please come over and introduce yourself. Tomorrow I'll be at the Kawana Library giving a talk about simple living. Again, if you will be at the library, please introduce yourself. I love meeting the people who read here. 

26 comments:

  1. Hi Rhonda,
    when I was at home full-time I used index cards with all of the monthly/seasonal tasks on them. Now that I work full-time I do a Spring-clean at the start of Spring, and also at the start of Autumn so that blankets etc...are clean before it gets too cold to get them dry on the line.

    Unfortunately, other tasks just get done when I notice them - as in 'gosh those windows are dirty I'd better wash them'! Winter is half over and I haven't pruned the roses or fruit trees yet!

    When I come back home full-time at the end of the year I imagine I'll use my diary and put in all of the seasonal tasks at the beginning of the year. I 'm also considering a home-keeping folder with a list at the beginning - I'll be interested in seeing how other domestic godesses do it :)

    Have a great day, Madeleine.

    PS Hanno, I hope you are feeling much better today :)

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  2. Cleaning the silver is a pre-Christmas preparation that we do involving the three generations and gives us a chance to sit and talk and focus our thoughts towards Christmas. It is like a "tradition", a chore that we make the best of I guess. I once knew a girl who said in their family Bathurst Race Day was polishing day LOL. My husband absolutely loves to get in and do the silver...I wonder if he was a footman in a past Victorian life?

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  3. Hi Rhonda,

    Just had to let you know I absolutely love the first photo you posted today, my favourite part - the little child's fork sitting amongst the silver. This photo was like a work of art, just lovely.

    Hope you are all keeping well. Bye for now.

    Dawn Packer

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  4. I have just discovered a program/app? called cozi. I have tried different planners in the past and grown tired of them, but this does look good. You can put in birthdays, repeating appointments, meal planning, shopping lists, pretty much anything you want. You could probably also schedule cleaning, but I am also more of the "oh the windows need cleaning" type of gal. I do try every weekend to either clean one room really well or at least a closet or drawer, and that is as far as the scheduling goes. I also use that method for cleaning silver - it is great. I am trying to plan our meals and this is why I started it, and so far so good.

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  5. Good Morning, I love those old knives, I think they have bone handles but not sure. I have about ten that belonged to my Parents and I use them constantly. A reminder of childhood and just like the way they feel. We have our day to day cutlery, and a 'good' set that I keep in a drawer by themselves. All stainless steel. The 'good' set I bought to use for family dinners, so we can all have matching! I don't really think anyone would have noticed anyway, too much talking/eating going on. Have a good day everyone, Kathryn :)

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  6. Fascinating. I have one silver tray that I polish and the rest is stainless steel.

    I have a 3-tiered system: the daily tasks and every day has its jobs. Then I put larger, unusual tasks on my weekly to-do list to fit in as I can (repotting plants, preserving blueberries, beets, and making sauerkraut this week). The once-a-year tasks I usually put on my yearly calendar. Just redid our filing system today, a much-loathed, necessary task. And my husband put "update will" on an evening coming up. Ugh. But if I put a task on a list, it gets done! I used to be more organized about deep cleaning, but currently, I do it when I notice it.

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  7. I'm not so organised that I plan when I'm going to do those seasonal-type tasks. I'm like Madeleine - I do them when I notice them. Now that I have an on-line diary that sends me reminders, when I do a one of those tasks, I try to put a reminder in that diary for when it next needs doing - but only if I remember!

    Cleaning the silver and washing the windows are jobs I associate with the Christmas school holidays, because us kids had to do them then. I think Mum used to save up those jobs for when we were at home - something to keep us all occupied over that long break.

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  8. Absolutely love your post. I have only a couple of silver cutlery but I notice you have a few of my most treasured items. The first being the cream/white handled knives in the 2nd photo - yours are the shorter blade knives - I have a few of them but most are the longer blade more square rounded ends that are great for spreading for sandwiches etc. and of course also sharpen up very well as cutting knives. Mine are all pretty old, different brands I've picked up on the way but I have a box of near new ones that were my nana's that never get used. Feeling guilty about that I have put them with other items for family to claim or off to the church.
    2nd item is the knife sharpen in the bottom photo, never could sharpen them properly any other way.
    I love the feeling you get when everything is sparkling and organised especially when little work is required and you use every day home made cleaners to do it. My sister & I both cleaned our ovens a couple of weeks ago (on the same day without either of us knowing!) - she cleaned with expensive chemical spray, I soaked & hardly had to scrub with just soap & scourer.
    In regard to organising less frequent tasks I've always been a 'looks like it needs to be done' kind of a girl however I have realised that for some tasks, especially home maintenance ones, I always think it wasn't long ago that I did it only to find it was 6 or 12 months ago.....From a comment on your site I found FLYLADY which was very helpful but it was from Home Organising (Alejander Costello) that got me started on setting up Home journals (so far Home, Kitchen & Laundry started) and on listing weekly, monthly, quarterly and semi annual/annual tasks. Haven't quite finished it yet but getting there. This way I will know when I last cleaned out the gutters - and not just because of high risk fire danger day warnings! Of course being organised like this brings other benefits e.g. easier cleaning if done more often, save money as detect problems earlier such as cracked roof tiles and small gutter leaks....Now I just have to be consistent and stick with the plan.
    Cheers
    Hadassah

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  9. In years past, I made lists and did things by a schedule, daily, monthly, bi-annually and yearly.
    Now it is catch-as-catch can!
    I'm trying so hard to start where I am and begin again. Retraining is tedious.
    I love hearing how others are doing ordinary tasks... and I love not just reading your posts, but your readers comments as well.
    You have a broad reader base---I'm finding there is lots of wisdom here.
    Pat

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  10. I'm fascinated with your method of cleaning the silver, the foil, bicarb, water and salt. is that literally all you do, just sit them there together like that and they come out clean after a couple of hours? I have a couple of cake slices and bits and bobs that could do with that treatment, so I'll give it a go! Thanks Rhonda!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sue, yes, that's all I used. Every piece of silverware needs to touch the foil, so I had to move them around a bit. I had way too many pieces in there and should have done it in two batches. As I said, I had to hand clean a few pieces but they were very tarnished, but that's all it takes.

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  11. I need to clean all the silverware too.
    It's all been op-shopped so is in varying shades of shiny.
    Thanks for the reminder. x

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  12. I love how organized you made your cutlery. I could certainly take this hint & reorganize some of my kitchen drawers as well. My scheduled tasks are usually placed on a calendar that's stored on my computer - it automatically pops up a reminder when it's time to do specific tasks that are not daily/weekly and therefore subject to being forgotten. It's worked well for us.

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Wolfe City, Texas

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  13. Over the years I developed a printed schedule. My memory is horrible due to an auto accident so I needed to figure out a way to not try to keep things in my head that wouldn't stay there anyway. What I ended up with is a 4 week rotation for winter, spring summer and fall. 1 sheet per week of the month. It all fits nicely into 2 clear sheet protectors. Each season I go over it and make a bit of a change if necessary as life changes. It has become a great reference system. The light fixtures get cleaned, air vents are vacuumed out, etc on a decent rotation. I don't waste energy trying to remember when I did it last or when it should be done next. If I don't get something done I just move on to the next day and will catch it later or on a slow day that I have reserved for catch up or food preparations. It has worked wonderfully and as long as I don't get rigid with myself it sure takes any stress or pressure off as I only use it as a guide. It also makes it much easier to get back on track if I've wandered off and gotten a bit lazy. :)
    Have a lovely day! :)

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  14. I don't like the "taste" of silver. My husband says it has no flavor, but I can taste it every time. And, I don't like having to do the special cleaning silver requires to keep it looking nice. I'll stick to my good old stainless flatware.

    Victoria in Connecticut

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    Replies
    1. LOL Victoria! I know what you mean, but with me it's not the taste, it is what it does to my teeth - makes them tingle unpleasantly. My SIL has a set of silver cutlery that was a gift from her Mum, who wanted to give us one too, but I asked her not to, saying I would prefer stainless steel. She didn't give us cutlery at all, but my stepmother gave me her full set of steel cutlery when she went into aged care and I love using it!

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  15. I'm not sure who said it but "Know thyself and to thyself be true" I know myself and even though Ilove to plan and schedule, I never keep to it so I no longer plan if it looks like it needs cleaning I clean it! If it's high up and I can't see it, my DH sees it and he cleans it. I didn't inherit any silver, and never saw the need to purchase any. We have a nice set of stainless that fits our family, we bought it for our aniversary a few years ago, it will hold up in the dishwasher for years to come!
    We got enough place settings for our large family at holidays. We are content.
    One way to get the house sparkling around here is to invite company, then I do an inspection and hit any spots like ceiling fans that don't get much attention otherwise.

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  16. I break my chores down into daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, yearly. I used to write them on paper (in a household journal) but now it seems terribly un-green so I have a spreadsheet homemaker's journal on my laptop.

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  17. I am terribly disorganised but what I have found since reading your blog and others like it is the importance of what I call 'one good job a day'. So I know most of the time my brain is all over the place with distractions from the farm stay and the animals, but I always have to go to bed knowing that I have accomplished one major task eg. cobwebbing or cleaning out the cutlery drawer etc. I found by doing this , that things don't mount up .
    And the other way is by 'throwing my hat over the fence ' ...which is where I invite friends to tea when the house is messy and work all day - I can't get out of it or get distracted because I have people coming.

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  18. I have a beautiful old silver teapot, creamer, sugar bowl and tray that needs cleaning. Do you think your method of alfoil, bicard, salt and water will work on these?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it should work. Just make sure that everything that needs cleaning is in contact with the foil.

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  19. I would be careful with these. If they are plate (rather than pure silver) you may find that you get the odd mark on them. I've done mine by this method once, but won't do so again, for that reason. I think it is because you can't possibly get all of that type of item in contact with the foil, so the chemical reaction doesn't work properly. I love cleaning cutlery that way, though! I have some ornamental silver which I polish the old fashioned way - it is actually a job I quite enjoy and it makes me think of the family members who originally owned the items.

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    Replies
    1. To each her own, Kate. I've been cleaning silver like this for 30 years. It's much safer than the heavy chemical method.

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  20. Hi Rhonda - much to my horror, found a big patch of chewing gum all over the leg of my favorite pants. I can't recall what you use to take it off - eucalyptus oil springs to mind?, but thought if anyone knew, you would, so fingers crossed you can help me - Shari (a malenyite)

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    Replies
    1. Shari, fold the pants with the chewing gum on the outside, put them in a plastic bag and into the freezer for a few hours. When they come out, you should be able to scrape the gum off with a blunt knife. If any is left, try the eucalyptus oil.

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  21. How on earth DO you find time for it all Rhonda?! In between the animals, home-making and the beautiful, extensive photographs you take for your blog, and the DAILY bloggging, how do you manage it?! Lovely blog!

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