7 July 2011

Working through the week

Things are still busy here, but that's good, I work well when there is a lot to be done. I worked at my neighbourhood centre yesterday. We got our grant for the life skills workshops so it's now full steam ahead organising them and setting a calendar for the next few months. I'll be teaching how to preserve jam and relish, fermenting, breadmaking, soap, laundry liquid and homemade cleaners and maybe cheese, as well as the ongoing Frugal Home workshop. We might also have a bush tucker and crossing cultures workshop by my friend Aunty Bev, depending on her current commitments, and there will be a series on how to plant an organic vegetable garden, worm farming, composting and keeping chickens. We hope to use the garden as a tool to help people create their own vegetable gardens at home, then use the garden and plant fruit trees so we have a productive kitchen garden operating at the Centre.

I feel this is a strong and positive statement about sustainability for our Centre to make. To get those under-used traditional life skills back into local homes, and many more vegetable gardens and chickens in backyards, will be good for our community. It seems many more people want to learn these skills now too. These tough economic times are making people see possibilities in places they never thought to look before - inside themselves and in their own backyards. 

Today I'll be making aprons and finishing off some knitting. Tomorrow I hope to set the shop up and start trading. It's been a long time coming but it feels good to be earning some pin money using my hands and a little effort. Now that the grandchildren are here it's good to have that bit of extra cash to spend so we can see them whenever we want to, or if we are needed. 

But I have to let you in on a little secret - my work room looks like a crazy monkey has been let loose in it. I'm sitting here now - well, let me take a photo instead of describing this mess.

This is a list of the workshops I was working on when I came back from the Centre yesterday.  And yes, that is this post being written on the laptop screen. This really is instant blogging.

And these two photos are the mess on the other side of the computer. I've been sorting through my stash to mix and match fabrics for aprons. So there, my secret is revealed. Hopefully, before I start sewing this morning, it will all be sorted and the extras put back in the cupboard.

I've been meaning to blog about silver cleaning since the last time I cleaned mine, so here goes. Not many of us use silver cutlery nowadays but I do, although we also have a stainless steel set. I love using my bone handle knives and old silver and every so often it needs more than just washing, it needs the tarnish removed. This is how I do it with no harsh chemicals.

I boil a kettle of water and while it's coming to the boil, place a sheet of aluminium foil on the base of the kitchen sink. Then I sprinkle a tablespoon of bicarb soda onto the foil and place the silverware on the foil. When the kettle boils, I pour it into the sink, making sure I cover all the silverware. I walk away, leave it for ten minutes, when I come back, the silver is clean. If you've got heavily tarnished silver, you could add a tablespoon of salt to help the process along. You can clean any silver like this, including silver jewellery. When the tarnish has disappeared, take the plug out, rinse the silver and dry it with a soft cloth. It will be sparkling and like new.

Thank you for visiting me today. I hope you have a beautiful day.

ADDITION: I'm going to knit a couple of organic cotton teddy bears for our babies. I have the yarn but I would like to stuff them with some kind of organic wadding as well. Do you know where I can buy it online, or in Brisbane or the Sunshine or Gold Coasts?



  1. ~What a fabulous tip for cleaning silver, will definitely try it.

  2. I would love to be able to come to all the class given at your neighborhood centre!! The classes are all of interest! I love the idea that your centre are teaching class after class to be frugal and bringing back lost home arts. There is a real need for such information now as we all know. Thank you for the tip about silver cleaning. I use ours too. I have seen other people say how to easily clean silver but was afraid their way would be too harsh for the silver if used when needed for years. I can trust your recipe. I always find something of everyday use on you posts. Things that will help us now and I can pass on to the next generation. Sarah

  3. thelittleblackcowblogJuly 07, 2011 6:02 am

    I find it very heartening to hear of the work you are doing with the community centre. You can change so many lives with education.I believe there is a gap in 'life skills/homemaker' skills where these things just simply didn't get passed on to the next generation. Now there is a generation just so hungry for skills such as these.
    Well done,

  4. HI Rhonda,

    Oh, I love your messy craft room. It's the sign of a brilliant mind :) :) My pastor in Germany used to say that "if you have a clean office, you have too much time on your hands. A messy office is the sign of a brilliant mind" :) :) So I vote for brilliance :) :) I actually loved seeing all the lovely fabrics piled everywhere :) :)

    what is soda bicarbonate? Is that the same as baking soda? Thanks for the silver cleaning tip. I have a few pieces that I inherited from my grandmother, that originally belong to her parents...a silver creamer and sugar bowl to be more correct ;) :) They're lovely...but severely tarnished. I'll try your tip and see how it works :) :)

    It sounds like you have lots of grea things going on. The news about the grant is exciting ;) :)

    Have a lovely week, Rhonda. I'm going to work on some knitting and crochet. A friend of mine is paying me to knit her some crocheted flags :) :) I'm so excited about that :) :)

    Love and hugs from Oregon, Heather :)

  5. I have been looking for a while for a way to clean silver naturally, I had a lucky find in a charity shop one day a set of lovely cutlery but it is heavily tarnished so I will definitely be trying this way. thanks again, love your blog I read it daily and always find inspiration.

  6. I saw that tip about cleaning silver on the UK show, How Clean Is Your House--but for some reason I never even thought about using that method to clean jewelry. Thanks!

  7. Heather: "bicarbonate of soda" is the British way of saying "baking soda" (the American word). Here in South Africa, everyone just says "bicarb". It's used in recipes of course, but also in natural/eco-friendly cleaning products like Rhonda and many others use.

    Rhonda: I have never heard of this tip to clean silver, and can't wait to try it out on the monogrammed silver napkin rings that we use every day (often referred to as "serviettes" instead of napkins in South Africa). Our silver rings are so tarnished but I'm sure with your method, they will be sparkling silver tomorrow. I love using cloth napkins every day and keeping them for as many days as possible and just tossing them in with the dirty laundry instead of using disposable paper napkins.

  8. I love what you are contributing to your local community centre...You hold a wealth of knowledge that Yes! needs to be relearn't by others....I think you are doing a wonderful thing sharing your knowledge with others....I would love to be in a position to do this teaching too....
    With the way things are going with the economy....these skills should be reintroduced to school education.
    Thanks for letting us see your mess...looks like my desk here..and I still can't get into my craft room yet.
    Thank-you for the explanation on using foil for cleaning silverwear...I had heard it in the past, but didn't know exactly...I'm cleaning my old cutlery today....
    Thanks again

  9. Love the silver cleaning tip! Thanks so much!

    You are one busy lady!
    One of my favourite saying, on a magnet on my fridge:
    "Dull Women Have Immaculate Homes." I'm anything but dull !LOL!

    I'm off to cean some silver :-)

  10. ;o) Like to see the 'mess' at your place Rhonda. It shows you are also just human ;o)

    Thank you for the cleaning-your-silver-tip. I'll try it tomorrow!

    Love from Holland

  11. I love the silver cleaning idea! So easy. It's tradition in my family for the girls to get a full set of silver cutlery for their 21st birthday, and I love using my mine, but don't get it out very often because of the time it takes to clean it. Thank you so much for sharing this tip!
    Have a wonderful day. I'm going to be sewing today - :o)

  12. Thank you so much for the tip about cleaning silver! I have some very tarnished silver to tackle and this really motivates me to give it a go :) Fantastic work at the centre - what a lasting legacy of sustainability you are creating there - excellent work!

  13. I have avoided silver cutlery because of the silver polish; I had no idea that it could be cleaned any other way. THANK YOU! Again "Words of Wisdom from Rhonda".
    My "creating room" looks just as bad - truth be told it's probably 10X worse but when the creative juices start flowing I don't take time to clean up between projects too often. I know I really should... something to work on. And I LOVE all the workshop ideas. Here they would have to be taught as a "living history" sort of thing to make it interesting enough for people looking for something "unique" to do. I wish you well with the workshops and a cross-cultural learning session would be amazing!

  14. Hi Rhonda,

    Sounds like a busy time for you. Those that visit your centre are so lucky to be able to learn directly from you I am sure they will come away greatly enriched for the experience.

    I noticed your fabric baskets in one of the photos in this post. I'd love to hear how you store your fabric - I have been building up a bit of stash from sale times as Lincraft and Spotlight, and op-shop finds. But I just can't find a way to store them neatly. Oh, and what to do with the scraps which are too big to throw away, but too small for any immediately obvious use? At the moment, all I can think of is a scrap hand pieced quilt.



  15. I think I will be moving to your neighborhood centre area.The classes sound lovely, very exciting for the neigborhood, hope they realise how prevliged they are to have you!Off to polish the silver .Sounds so easy thanks.Can't wait for the shop to open,I,ll be buying some soap.Mum and I make it with your recipe but would love to try yours.Linda

  16. Good on you for getting all those workshops happening. We are trying here at Purple Pear to do the same but people are still not ready down here I fear. Glad to see other people's workplaces getting into a bit of a muddle at times.

  17. Hi Rhonda,
    I havent used it myself, but a friend has for some stuffed animals.
    and i would LOVE to be able to attend classes such as those you run. I would love to be able to sit down and become a better knitter or sewer or baker, and learn from our elders.
    You do a wonderful inspiring job !
    thanks for sharing
    Lauren :)

  18. I shall be trying your silver cleaning tips. Thank you!

  19. Hi Rhonda, We have a sheep that we shear annually. I keep his wool for stuffing things. This year I made a pillow stuffed with his wool. I'm sure you have wool near you somewhere but I could always post you some if you can't find any.

  20. Rhonda my 14 year old daughter and I love to read your blog each day and frequently search old posts for loved recipes and tips - just this morning we were checking your post on growing sweet potatoes because we have planted one that is growing into a lovely little bush and had no idea what comes next! When we recently received the happy news that our little ones could have wheat introduced back into their diets I knew exactly where to go to find a simple bread recipe to try - and we have been making it every day for the last fortnight (the little ones even turned one batch of dough into alphabet shapes and a dinosaur!)Last night we had the thrill of eating our first produce from my daughter's garden - two beautiful golden zucchini in our chicken stew and look forward to some fresh-from-the-garden spinach and bok choy tonight with left over stew and dumplings. I really want you to know how blessed I feel to have the benefit of your knowledge and encouragement through your blog and love that you still share hands on in your community spreading the simple living message. You are a blessing to us all. Thank You! Love LeaB.

  21. Well it never ceases to amaze me that when I get to catch up with your blog the hint I need is there,I co- ordinate a little op shop and this week a lady literally bought in her spoon collection for us..all tarnished of course, I sat down here for 5 mins before I go to the shop and look what is here!I am off to my cupboard and on to clean all these spoons,thank you again. Rhonda.

  22. I have some silver cutlery that hasn't been cleaned in ages. I use a very similar method, but I add a handful of washing soda (the crystal looking one) to the foil. Never thought to use bicarb, so I will remember that.

  23. The work shops sound fabulous! Such a great job you do. And I am totally jealous of your fabric stash!!!

  24. WOW - you are going to be so busy teaching all those classes. It would be "the best" to be able to attend your classes in person. Next best is the wonderful blessing of having access to your teaching through the internet. Keep on.

    One of your fans,

  25. Those classes sound fab, makes me wish I lived nearby to take them. Would love to hear how they go

  26. Hi there, I tried to clean what i thought was a silver plated candlestick with this method but no success. Im wondering if its actually pewter now, any suggestions on cleaning pewter?

  27. Rhonda..thank you so much for the simple silver cleaning method. I used it years ago but forgot exactly what to use and how long to let it sit.
    As for your sewing room..well it makes me feel so much better as mine is also a mess right now. My sewing room/office doubles as a guest room and we've had company the past week. Our company left this afternoon so tomorrow I hope to get the mess from having company cleared up so I can get back to sewing! Marsha

  28. Hi Rhonda,

    I've been cleaning my silver just as you do for years, it works great! Thanks for showing us your "working" office. Congratulations on getting a grant for your classes. They sound wonderful.

    Regarding your Addition: Compostablegoods.com, based in Vermont, USA, sells organic cotton stuffing. I've never bought from them nor am I endorsing them. I just looked them up and thought I would share.

    Hope this helps,
    Miriam, Austin, TX, USA

  29. Dear Rhonda
    Your work room looks exactly like my family room, kitchen and spare bedroom. I bet just like me you know where every thread, scrap of material or crochet hook can be found. Tidy it up and you'll be like me, hopelessly lost.

  30. Thanks for the tip on cleaning silver - I had my MIL's silver out for cleaning this weekend, and was wondering how best to clean it.

  31. Rhonda, what a blessing your classes will be to people in your area! I wish there was something affordable like your classes near me.

    By the way....that light green fabric with the flowers on it....could I please put a hold on the apron you use that in? lol Mostly just joking...but I will definitely be looking for it in the shop when you open. :-)


  32. fantastic tip for cleaning silver, as soon as i finish reorganising the pantry (i was inspired by one of your old blogs on stockpiling) it will be onto the silverware. thank you for all the work you put into keeping your blog relevant, interesting and informative!

  33. They tried to sell that method through televisionshopping here in Holland. A revelotionary way to clean silver...with a magic sheet to put in your sink, and magic powder to sprinkle in the water. Oh boy.. if all those people buying that expensive kit only knew how simple it really is. Thanks Rhonda.

  34. I love that you are reaching out into your community, teaching others of your skills, sharing yourself with others. I also love that you posted photos of your workspace. You have a home not a house, that is what is more important. You are living your life, making, creating, using your skills. My work space often looks the same.

  35. Rhonda
    Thanks for sharing your imperfections with us. It's a rare and beautiful thing. ;D

    Seriously, thanks for sharing the pics and I must say the fabrics shown were gorgeous!


  36. I second the suggestion to use sheep's wool as stuffing for baby toys. It's very soft of course, and I read somewhere that it's good because the baby's own natural scent clings to it and they find that comforting. (I have taken to gathering little bits that cling to barbed wire fences here in the UK, washing it, and storing it away in readiness for my possible/eventual grandchildren!)

  37. I thought you might like to know that removing tarnish from silver using aluminum foil will eventually ruin the silver wear. Eventually removing all the silver away. You are better to use a cleaner, such as from Amway. I do not sell the stuff and never have, but I know from the antique business and a chemist that this is to be true. One jar of silver cleaner will last your lifetime. I have lots of silver..... china cabinet full. The tarnish cleaner keeps it clean so I only have to clean, Easter and Thanksgiving.

  38. I tried this tip just the other day on a heavily tarnished/marked silver sugar bowl from a tea set my husband's grandmother gave me, but it only made a slight difference. Is there a point at which silver is just too far gone? I'm not sure what else I could do to restore it (that's not incredibly costly).

  39. Thanks for the jewelry cleaning tip! I will have to try that on my heart-shaped pendant. It has a lot of scroll work that is difficult to get to, so this no-scrub soak method sounds perfect!

  40. Heritage Fermgirl, I disagree with you. Rubbing silver with baking soda or any silver cleaner will remove the silver. This method requires no rubbing - it is a chemical reaction, and is therefore better at keeping the silver intact. This is from the University of Wisconsin:

    Jenni, was the water boiling? Did the bowl touch the aluminium? If so, increase the amount of baking soda and add some salt.

  41. Brilliant tip on silver cleaning! I have my Nan's old silverware which I usually get out for special occassions but I also use the Tablespoons regularly. They need a bit of love and this will do the trick!

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