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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stainless and Silver Flatware

When I got married we didn't have the expensive china, flatware and glassware. We needed practical stuff and that is what we got. So I had cheap silverware. It served the purpose. But later, when we could afford it, I bought a nice set of stainless flatware. It still wasn't what some newlyweds expect their guests to pay for wedding gifts. I've seen silverware placesettings that are as expensive as sterling silver placesettings. But it was nice. Last year, I bought an even nicer set at a thrift store. The boxes had not even been opened! I was so thrilled and paid $97 for a box with 8 placesettings and serving pieces. The only thing was it only had 8 teaspoons and I really need 16. I was always running out of teaspoons until I found some extra spoons that match. I've also bought antique silver plated sets at yard sales and antique malls. I bought one complete set in it's silverware box (8 placesettings and serving pieces) for $25 at a yard sale. For that matter, I've bought china sets at thrift stores and antique malls much cheaper than buying an expensive piece at a time at a department store. I have a set for any time of the year (Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Christmas). If young brides will wait until they can afford it and then shop regularly at yard sales, thrift stores and antique malls/sales/festivals you can get what you want much cheaper. It's a matter of patience and persistence in going to these places and yard sales.

I use my new stainless silverware all the time because I didn't pay an arm and a leg for it. Whether I'm eating cereal or hosting a family dinner. Same with my silver plate silverware. I can use it any time without worrying about it.

When purchasing your stainless silverware make sure the box says it is 18/10 stainless and it's stamped on each piece. If it doesn't say it, then it isn't 18/10. A typical composition of 18% Chromium and 10% Nickel, commonly known as 18/10 stainless, is often used in flatware. Similarly, 18/0 ( aka 302) and 18/8 (aka 308) are also available. The higher nickel content ensures better resistance to stress-corrosion cracking. 18/10 is also referred to as 316 stainless steel, with 16-18% Chromium, 10-14% Nickle, and also 2-3% Molybdenum, which greatly increases the resistance to pitting corrosion. 316L is a very good grade of stainless steel. It means type 316 (aka 18/10) "L"ow carbon. 18/10 (aka 316) is most resistant against acidic and chloride corrosion. Think tomato sauce (acidic) and vegetables boiled in salted water (chloride). The Nickel is the metal that reduces the rust and pitting of the base metal, being Stainless Steel. You want your stainless to have a good weight to it. If it has a good heft to it then it is least likely to bend a fork tine or the tip of a knife. For some inexplainable reason, with a shop full of tools, my husband still will use a knife tip for a screw driver in a pinch! Time and use will affect any flatware. There will be some corrosion, scratches, silver plating will wear away showing it's copper base, sterling silver will get thinner. But a good set will last longer and you shouldn't have to purchase a new set unless you just get tired of the old set. (By the way, all this information goes for stainless steel cookware, pots and pans, too.)

If you have allergies to metals then you might want to use Titanium or Sterling Silver.

Pure silver is too soft for normal use, and so it is combined with another metal for strength. Sterling silver, for example, is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper. German silver is alloyed with copper, zinc and nickel. Silver objects are stamped with a hallmark, showing that the metal was assayed for its purity; the hallmark identifies the maker as well. If the object is not sterling but silverplate or electroplate, the hallmark will indicate so.

Silver plate is made from a base metal such as copper with a thin coating of silver electrolytically deposited on it. Silver molecules will combine with certain other elements for which it has an affinity to create a corrosion product which we call tarnish.

It follows then that removing tarnish (usually by means of an abrasive polish) means removing some of the silver itself. In fact, the effect of years of cleaning can be seen on older pieces of silver, where engraved decorations have become faint due to loss of the surface. Therefore, tarnish formation should be prevented as much as possible to avoid this gradual loss of silver.

Sulfurs are the strongest tarnishing agents, as anyone who has eaten an egg with a silver spoon or fork will know. But sulfurs are also present as pollutants in the air from the burning of fossil fuels, and even generated in our homes from such products as foam rubbers, carpet padding, paints, wool or felt. We can only try to reduce the presence of these agents so that our silver will not combine with them to form tarnish.

Silver kept in a cabinet or cupboard which closes securely enough to prevent air exchange is at least somewhat protected from air-borne sulfurs and chlorides. If the cabinet is made of wood, the interior surfaces should be well sealed (two coats of water-based polyurethane can act as a barrier against acids in the wood).

Other objects stored with the silver should be compatible-- plastics and fabrics may generate tarnishing agents, while china and glass are undoubtedly safe. Chests for storing silver flatware are generally lined with a fabric known as silvercloth which is impregnated with tiny silver particles which sacrificially absorb sulfurs; this fabric is also available in pouches or zippered bags of various sizes for the storage of individual pieces, and in lengths for lining containers or entire display cabinets. This fabric is recommended for preventing tarnish; however, the particles will eventually accumulate so much sulfur that they will gradually become ineffective, so be aware that silvercloth will not last indefinitely.

Storing silver in plastic bags and cardboard boxes and tissue paper, unless they are archival quality products, will do more harm than good.

Frequent light cleanings are safer for your silver and less time consuming for you than waiting until silver is very tarnished before cleaning. Don't use rubber gloves when you wash or polish silver-- they emit sulfurs! Removal of tarnish generally involves the use of an abrasive and so it is referred to as polishing. Since silver is softer than many other metals, it is of utmost importance that the appropriate abrasive be used-- a product formulated for cleaning copper or brass would be much too strong for silver, and leave disfiguring scratches. The trick to using any silver polishing products is to take it easy. Don't "scrub" but be gentle. Liquid silver dips are another option. They lessen scratches, but they do contain acids which make etching and pitting a possibility. They must be used with great care. If an object is left in the dip for too long it will be overcleaned, and eventually pitted. Also, chemicals which leak into hollow feet or handles can pose a problem as they will continue to work inside the piece; furthermore, the acids are harmful to wood and ivory attachments, as well as to some other metals. It's more prudent to swab the solution onto the silver and rinse thoroughly than to immerse the silver in the dip. ( http://www.jbsilverware.co.uk/Cleaning.aspx )

How do you store your silverware? You may have a kitchen drawer for your everyday flatware and a special place for your fancy, schmancy stainless or silver plate (or sterling) silverware. A lot of people don't care how they store their flatware. Their silverware drawer may look like this:

I'm a little more organized. I don't save carry out plastic utensils. They are called throwaway utensils for a reason! LOL!

No, I do have one or two plastic spoons to carry with me when I take a yogurt to the library (when I'm doing genealogy, I can sneak into the bathroom and gulp down my yogurt quickly and get back to work without having to log off the computer and pack up, go eat, come back, unpack and log back on, so I use a plastic spoon to pump that yogurt in me quickly and get back to work). I do throw them away once I use them instead of washing and re-using PLASTIC spoons!

Here are some ideas that I found on the Internet:

Here are some ideas for storing your more expensive silverware or stainless flatware:

Thursday, August 13, 2009

God And Dog

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cheap Exercise

Why join a gym and pay a gym fee when there are all kinds of ways to exercise for free! Here are some suggestions.

* Walking. That's right, you don't need a Treadmill when you can walk for free. Walk you neighborhood, walk downtown, walk in a nice cemetery, walk in parks, walk in a mall or a superstore (walk the perimeter of the store quickly), walk in your church parking lot or church gym. Park at the very end of the parking lot when you have to go to the store.

* Going up and down stairs. Why do the Stairmaster at the gym when you can go up and down stairs for free. Surely there is a building that has safe stairways. Go up and down the stairs where you work, or at the library, or the hospital. Are there stairs in the park? In your mall?

* Go to Walmart and buy a cheap little trampoline and do your walk on the trampoline in your own living room watching your own TV. Cheaper than gym membership or buying a Treadmill!

* At the same Walmart you could pick up some 2 1/2 lb or 5 lb weights. Carry them as you walk and do some arm exercises. If you can't afford the weights, use some canned vegetables. Do some arm curls, some lifts, etc. If you don't know what kind of arm exercises do a Google search.

* Learn some isometric exercises (basically tensing your muscles and holding the tension for a count of 10 and then let go) and do them while you are talking on the telephone.

* Learn some stretching exercises and practise them. Do a Google search for stretching exercises.

* Put on some upbeat music and dance. You don't have to look beautiful or know how to dance. Just move to the beat. No one is watching! Just get your heart rate up.

* Buy an exercise DVD. Or look for videos on YouTube.

* Take your dog for a walk or a run.

* Take a gallon of milk and pick it up from the floor and put it back down. Use your legs, not your back.

* Mow your yard with a push mower. Wash your own car. Trim your own hedges. Rake your own leaves.

* Learn how to do some Yoga stretches.

* Jump rope


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Laundry Room Ideas

Does your laundry area look anything like this one? If you were honest, you might have to admit that it really does look like this or, somewhat like this. This is not acceptable. It's not functional, efficient or pleasant. (In this case, with all those pipes and wires, it may not be safe either!)

I did a Google image search and found some great laundry room ideas.

I've had to live with a laundry "closet" and a laundry "room" and I vote for a laundry "room" over a closet! But there are pros and cons...

Laundry Room Pros
You have room to fold laundry and store your supplies
You have a sink to wash a small dog in, or your delicates in.
You have room for an ironing board
You have room for more organization such as separate laundry baskets for everyone in the house, separate hampers for whites/darks/delicates, etc.

Laundry Room Cons
A room means it is usually not as conveniently located as a laundry closet. It may be off the garage, in the basement or near the kitchen and this is not close to the bedroom and baths where you need it. That means hauling clothes baskets.
It's much too easy to ignore piles of clothes if they are shut off in a room and not demanding your attention
Laundry creates a lot of dust and you have to clean a whole room instead of just a closet

Because clothes are made of fibers, as they wear they create lint and dust. So your laundry room is going to be one of the dustiest places in the house. You want your laundry room to be pleasant, functional, efficient and easy to clean. So with those objectives in mind, here are laundry rooms that I found. I tried to pick a good variety from small to large, cheap to expensive. Look for ideas that you can use in your own laundry setup.

This room is organized and pleasantly decorated. She evidently has to use her laundry room for some extra storage and she did a good job with the baskets. The only down side is all the dust. Those baskets won't keep the contents from getting dusty and there is a lot to clean around in this laundry room. If I have a choice of open shelving and cabinets/drawers, I would take the cabinets/drawers. It keeps clutter behind closed doors and keeps dust off the contents. And cleaning is just wiping the cabinet doors.

This is such a cheery laundry room and I like how she is organized. The top shelf would be a pistol to dust but at least it's just that shelf.

For large families having more than one washer/dryer is a good idea! This laundry room is one of my favorites!

I really like this one too. The stainless steel and frosted glass is very modern.

This is a very quaint laundry room. It would really match an older home. The old sink and old table make it.

It's a good idea to have a treadmill (with a flat screen TV to boot!) in the laundry room. You can do some exercise while you wait for the loads to be ready for folding.

This large country laundry room is beautiful!

This French Country look is attractive. I like that drying rack.

I really like having a TV in the laundry room for those times when you have loads to fold and iron.

Putting cabinet doors in front of the washer/dryer is one way to hide the washer/dryer but they do get in the way.

You wouldn't dread going to the basement to do laundry if your laundry area looked as nice as these do.

If you can't afford cabinets, maybe you can hide clutter with curtains like this woman did.

Using this old dollhouse for shelving was a good idea!

This colorful laundry room should keep you in a good mood while you do your laundry. I love the turquoise blue glass tiles on the wall.

The slatted shelves are good for air flow if you use them for drying sweaters.

This is an organized back porch laundry room. Notice her matching round hatboxes on the shelves over the door on the right. Also the hanging rack by the door.

This looks like it's a garage laundry room. But it's very functional.

This is one of Martha Stewart's laundry rooms. I like her tile floors. It's the same tile that I used in my Master Bathroom.

I love the floor in this laundry room.

This is another favorite of mine.

I love, love, love the old laundry sinks like this one. I like how this one sits on a cabinet and I love the tile backsplash.

This is a pretty farm sink in a laundry room.

This is a good "stain" spot. I like the laminate with the stain removal ideas.

A laundry room is not a living room. It's suppose to be functional and do the dirty work. But it doesn't have to be a dirty, grubby hole in the wall either. You have to spend a lot of time doing laundry so it should be a pleasant place to be, not the torture chamber that you hate to enter. You want it set up so that it works for you and your family. It should be efficient and functional. What do you do in your laundry room? Do you iron? I don't. I very rarely iron but some people iron EVERYTHING. Do you wash your dogs in the laundry room sink? If you have small dogs, the laundry sink is easier on your back. Do you handwash your stockings and delicates? I don't wear stockings any more and I don't handwash anything (I have a delicate cycle on my washing machine). Do you need multiple laundry baskets and hampers to keep track of everything? With just the two of us, I don't have many laundry baskets to keep track of. Do you like watching TV while doing laundry? I do. I wish I had enough room for a comfy rocker in my laundry room too. What do you need to store in the laundry room? Will your children be doing laundry? (I hope you are teaching them how to take care of their own clothes.) We don't have children. Do you want to have your deep freezer in the laundry room? What kind of stations do you need in a laundry room....an ironing station (with ironing board, iron, starch, etc); a dog grooming and dog dosing station (dog shampoos, flea/tick meds, tummy meds, clippers and drying stand); a gift station (storing gifts, gift wrapping supplies, boxes); a sewing station (sewing machine, supplies, fabric); a cat station (litter box, cat food, cat meds); etc.

All of these are the kinds of questions to ask yourself as you consider your laundry area. This will give you an idea of how much room you need in the laundry room and how you want it set up. When I was house-shopping I kept in mind the size laundry room I wanted and I got it. It makes all the difference! If you are building a home, keep this in mind when you go to plan your home.

But remember, you need to keep it clean, organized, clutter free, picked up, laundry done. If you don't maintain it, then you could have the best laundry room in the world and it still look like a cyclone hit it.

To see my posts on how to organize closets and organize your clothing check out these:

Here is a website that shows all types of clothes drying ideas (racks and such):

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