Monday, October 25, 2010

Lemons, Dishwashers and Pitting

Did you know:
  1. One does not have to squeeze the lemon when one orders iced tea or any other drink that has either a lemon or lime on the rim of the glass. Just plunk the citrus into your beverage and it will dissipate and disperse into the liquid. No squeezing or citrus in your eye!
  2. Lemon detergent is for pots and pans only. Lemon is acidic and will, over time, eat the glaze off of your china and crystal, especially fine china and crystal with a gold rim.
  3. Washing sterling silver flatware in the dishwasher is fine as long as you do not mix it with stainless flatware or stainless pots and pans. It is a metallurgy thing. Silver and stainless as metals do not like each other and the stainless will pit out your sterling.
  4. Mixing sterling with stainless will force the base metal to come through the sterling. Then, you will be stuck rubbing the sterling with jewelers rouge to get rid of all those little black spots on your sterling called pitting.
  5. To get any pit out of sterling, drop lighter fluid onto the rouge and wipe the rouge stick with a soft cloth. Then rubbing always in the same direction, rub the cloth onto the sterling. Never rub in circles. With much elbow grease, the pit will eventually disappear.
  6. NEVER use jewelers rouge on silver plate. It will remove the plate. Sterling is usually 92.5 parts silver, while silver plate has only 10 microns of silver on top of the base metal. Antique silver has a heavy base metal of usually copper or nickel. New silver plate now has a light base metal of tin.
  7. Shocking fact: Yes! You may wash your antique china and antique crystal in the dishwasher. The following are a few rules you must follow for fine china and every day kitchen china, fine crystal and everyday glassware:
  • Never use lemon detergent on anything other than your pots and pans. Use plain detergent only. It is hard to find in the supermarket, but look for it!
  • Use only 1 teaspoon of the granular, plain detergent. Do not use those detergent tabs, they are contain a separate chemical "Jet dry" substance and are inconsistent and uneven.
  • Never use the heat cycle. It is too hot and the heat is bad for your porous china and will weaken it over time. It also will actually melt any gold rims.
  • Always use the "Air Dry" cycle.
  • Always use the "Gentle" cycle.
  • Load and unload your china and crystal evenly and nicely. Space is the place. Do no jam or overload your dishwasher. If you have to run more than a few loads, do so. Items often shift in cycle. Avoid breakage.
Be kind to your fine china, crystal and silverware and it will last a few lifetimes!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

True Prep Book Review - "n/a" Not Applicable

To be a "True Prep" or not to be... this is neither the question nor the answer. As a matter of fact, Prep is "n/a", no longer applicable. Society is a smaller place as we have grown into an international world, not a "New Old World." This hardback novel is just not as novel as the first trade paperback.

Of course, original preps still have a few L.L. Bean pieces in their wardrobes, the pearls, whale cords in the closet and the "Wellies," but since the first book 25 years ago, good fashion has evolved into haute couture designers at a deep discount with new stores like H&M and Target carrying this classic fashion. Faux and discounted Armani, Chanel, Heremes and Louis Vuitton are all now available on the Internet.

Dotted with buttons of wisdom by Edith Wharton throughout the book, Lisa Birnbach gave the impression she just wants to be THE "Etiquette Lady." She also gave the impression in her video that only preppies know their etiquette, thus, are the only group of persons with manners. To my students, I always say "One does not have to have money to have manners."

Regarding the vantage point for her information collected for this book, it took Ms. Birnbach until page 72 to mention the South. She spoke cleaverly about FFV's (First Families of Virginia) and King James I, but then she proclaimed Middleburg, Virginia, as the mecca of the Southern "gay horsie crowd." Pardon me? She thinks Middleburg is the South? Also, because it is a different world, 25 years later, in trying to be all inclusive and all politically correct, Lisa Birnbach comes across as all proliferating stereotypes.

Ms. Birnbach did mention Hamden-Sydney College as "The Preppiest college in the United States." Her travel tip section and frugal "Do's and Don'ts" were funny, as were the few tried and true photos with maps and descriptions of why, what and how things are in the preppie world. Nice to know sometimes, some things never change. However, the catalogue of her "Prep Pantheon," was something out of 1952 and the people were 99 percent North Easterners.

In 2010, the "True Prep" lifestyle of the private boarding school, Junior year of High School in Switzerland, college with the Junior year abroad, then a societal debut at the exclusive country club no longer posesses the same 'Tra la la' allure it once posessed. "True Prep" neither guarantees happiness in life nor success in the real world.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Silver Spoons, Champagne and Patina

Born with a sterling silver spoon in your mouth? Have any sterling silver spoons in your sideboard from your wedding or inherited from your grandmother? The following are tips to help you maintain your sterling silver and other uses for spoons!

  • Placing a sterling silver spoon in your mouth while chopping an onion will alleviate the stinging and tears from your eyes.
  • Placing any spoon (sterling or stainless) into a cold open champagne bottle will keep the bubbles from evaporating, and keeps your champagne fresh!
  • Sterling silver ONLY (never silver plate) cleaned with jewelers' rouge and lighter fluid resists tarnish and finger-marks longer than any other method. Be sure to lightly rub the cloth in the same linear direction. Never rub in circles. Do not EVER clean silver plate using this method as it will remove the silver plate.
  • Silver wrapped in linen, then in newspaper kept in a clean, dry, cool cabinet will keep well.
  • Salt will quickly tarnish silver. For salt stains, rub sterling silver with damp salt.
  • Lemon and seafood will also quickly tarnish silver.
  • One may wash sterling silver in the dishwasher if a few rules are obeyed. Only use plain detergent and only use one teaspoon of detergent. Never use lemon detergent with sterling silver as the acid from the lemon will tarnish and may pit out the sterling silver. Do not place antique sterling silver knives made before about 1880 in the dishwasher as they may have plaster inside the sterling handles, thus may explode in the dishwasher. Always test one knife first before washing all other knives just in case!
  • Lemon detergent is bad for china and crystal as well. It removes the clear glaze over time. Lemon detergent is great for pots and pans only!
  • Do not place sterling silver in the same dish cycle with stainless. The two metals do not like each other and you risk pitting out the sterling silver.
  • Use the dishwasher's "Gentle" cycle and "Air Dry" cycle only. NEVER use the "Heat" cycle. It is too hot and is bad for your sterling flat silver, fine china and crystal too.
  • A little olive oil rubbed over silver before it is put away will prevent it from becoming tarnished. When ready for use, wash it warm soapy water and dry thoroughly.
  • Use your sterling every day, wash it in the dishwasher and you will only have to clean it about once a year!
  • Tarnished silver can be quickly cleaned with a cloth sprinkled with bicarbonate of soda.
  • Purists (like myself) adore sterling with its Patina giving it a luster found only with age. Buffing off the Patina will not only remove its Patina but will remove valuable microns of silver.

Enjoy your old sterling new!