Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tip Tuesday & Other Things

I hope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! Everyone says Labor Day is the end of summer, but there are plenty of lovely, warm days left. Autumn doesn’t arrive officially until Sunday, September 22, but stores are full of fall clothing and home d├ęcor items in gorgeous fall colors.

We’re starting to think of fall foods – those that are more hearty and filling, as well as the wonderful fall harvest foods such as pumpkins, apples and squash. And who doesn’t look forward to a big pot of bubbly, fragrant chili or vegetable soup? Yum.

We had a simple Labor Day dinner last  night. My husband grilled the London broil, and it turned out perfect. Here’s the marinade that I made up on the fly:

QUICK AND SIMPLE MARINADE

3 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
several basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Mix well and pour over beef, pork or chicken. Marinate several hours, turning occasionally.
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Now, on to Tip Tuesday!

A lot of you, I’m sure, have some pieces of silver. They may have been inherited or may have been bought at an estate sale or antique store. They’re beautiful, and you want to keep them that way. It isn’t an easy task. Air is the biggest enemy of silver – it causes the oxidation that leads to tarnish. Add to that any acidic foods that the pieces are exposed to, and you’re sure to find they don’t stay shiny for long.

There are several ways to clean the silver pieces, and all of them are time-consuming and not necessarily pleasant. Actually, it’s a pretty messy procedure, but one that should be done on a regular basis. Keeping the silver clean – and using it often – are the best ways to preserve its sheen.
After doing some internet research and reading books, here are some tips about cleaning and caring for silver. One book actually told how to oxidize silver – why would we want that? We want it shiny!

1) Don’t mix silver and stainless steel in the same storage container or drawer because the stainless steel will tarnish the silver.

2) Put pieces of chalk in the silverware chest and small chunks of charcoal in larger areas to absorb humidity.

3) Always wash and dry silver by hand – not in the dishwasher.

There are several ways to clean silver:

1) To easily clean silver jewelry, use either Alka Seltzer tablets or denture cleaner tablets. Drop a couple into a cup of water and carefully drop in your jewelry. When the fizzing stops, remove the sparkly jewels, rinse and carefully wipe dry. I’ve done this numerous times and it works great and makes those diamonds shine, too!

2) Toothpaste is mildly abrasive - simply rub on gently, rinse under warm water then dry with a soft cloth.

3) Lay a large sheet of aluminum foil in the kitchen sink. Add 2 tablespoons salt and 2 tablespoons baking soda and fill the sink with hot water. Lay the silver pieces on the foil. When the tarnish is gone, rinse and wipe dry. Badly tarnished pieces should take about 5 minutes.

Tarnish prevention:

1) Wrap each piece carefully in 2 layers of plastic wrap before storing.

2) Clean with silver polish no more than once or twice a year.

Remember, the best way to preserve your silver’s beauty is to use it!

My Notes: I’ve never actually tried the toothpaste or foil techniques – always stuck with a good silver polish. So I decided to do an experiment. I have some very old berry spoons that, unfortunately, haven’t been used in some time. They looked like this:

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I polished one with toothpaste and the other with silver polish. Photo #1 is the silver polish result, photo #2 the toothpaste result.  #3 illustrates the distinct differences between the two results (the toothpaste-polished spoon is on top).
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As you can see, the toothpaste didn’t work quite as well, but there was an improvement. It could have been that our brand wasn’t abrasive enough or that the tarnish was just too bad for the toothpaste to clean. The silver polish did an admirable job, though, and the spoon looks ready to use!

If you try some of the other cleaning techniques, please let me know how they work for you. And if you have a good way to polish silver that hasn’t been mentioned, please share. Thanks.
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Your comments and suggestions are always welcome. Thanks for reading!

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