Sunday Evening Non-Consumer Mish-Mash

by Katy on February 8, 2009 · 8 comments


Car keys


I had written about the Consumer Product Safety Commission lead and phthalates safety legislation that was to go into effect on February 1st. The initial ban has been delayed, but some of the rules are to take immediate effect anyway. 

I have tried to keep up on this issue, as I am both a proponent of being able to buy and sell used children’s clothes, yet am also very lead paranoid. (My younger son had lead poisoning when he was  a preschooler, the source of which was never identified.)

The Oregonian had a very good article today, which explored the issues surround this legislation from a number of different angles. Here’s a link.

One detail that shocked me was how car keys have extremely high lead levels:

Car keys — something many moms let their children play with — and found that most keys registered at least 9,000 parts per million. As of Tuesday, accepted levels are 600 ppm, a number that drops to 300 ppm in August.


I tried out a tip last night for polishing silver that I simply can’t keep to myself. 

Line a pan with aluminum foil and add a tablespoon or so of baking soda, and simply pour in boiling water.

Carefully place your silver into the liquid, making sure it touches the foil. 

The tarnish dissolves away like freakin’ magic! 

I use my sterling silverwear on a daily basis, but hate keeping it polished, so I was giddy with excitement with the success of this experiment. And the best part is that the components cost next to nothing, (use old foil) there’s no toxic worry, nothing to shop for and it’s 1000 times easier than using commercial silver polish.

It did remove the tarnish in the details of the silverwear, but the way I see it, that’ll be back in a few weeks. So if you have heirloom silver, I’d try this first on some less valuable pieces.


I also thought I’d share a typical Non-Consumer day from this past Saturday.

First of all I slept until noon. (Okay. Not that typical, as I’m pretty darned sure I haven’t done this since becoming a mother.) 

My older son and I walked to the library where he filled a bag with Manga, and I checked out the second season of “Lost” and a few books.

We came across a free box on the way back, which included a Columbia Sportswear black fleece zip-up hooded jacket in the perfect size for my ten-year-old. This particular child refuses to wear any jacket he considers to be, “puffy.” So this was a very good find. Especially since our snow level is about to drop in the next few days. 

We then stopped by Muse Art and Design, our favorite art supply store. My son drew The Word of the Day and we scavenged a carboard box for my younger son to use to create some weird cardboard something-or-other.  

I had a good conversation with Peter, the owner about how his store is thriving, which I was happy to hear. I would deeply mourn the loss of this store.

Dinner was a huge salad with hard boiled eggs, deli turkey and some Great northern Beans I’ve meaning to work into meals. (I had emptied out the can to make a string-and-can telephone with my ten-year-old.)  I also heated up and served the last of some homemade chicken soup. 

Saturday is dessert night at our house, so I whipped up a Momeye’s coffee cake, and sprinkled in a handful of chocolate chips to gussy it up a bit.

We finished up the day watching a couple hours of “Lost” with our 13-year-old, as our ten-year old was at a sleepover.



And last, but not least — a confession.

I have signed myself up for The Frugalista’s No-Buy-Month, and had been doing well until today. Because, you see . . . I took my kids to see “The Tale of Despereaux”  at a local second run movie theater. Yes, I had a coupon. And no, we didn’t buy anything from the concession stand. But it’s my younger son’s favorite book, and we had gone to hear the author speak a few years back. So I feel a real connection with the book.

And you know what? I feel perfectly fine about it, because life is all about keeping things in perspective.

Have a great week, and check back in for the second week of The Non-Consumer Advocate book club!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

newman February 9, 2009 at 4:35 am

will try and invigorate my silver collection!



GLM February 9, 2009 at 10:47 am

That’s odd, I don’t run into problems with silver tarnishing that often.

You’re better off with magnesium and washing soda, because aluminum isn’t as reactive. Scrub the tin foil with a brillo pad first, lightly. Also, don’t forget to rub with a cloth afterwards to remove the white silver residue. Also, don’t leave it in too long.

You’re probably best off just using silver polish, IMHO, but if it works for you, why not. Just DON’T use Tarnex, ever, whatever you do!! That will pitt your sterling and erode plate.


Kristen@The Frugal Girl February 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm

So, are art supplies not part of the compact? I don’t mean that to sound snarky, I was just wondering! lol


thenonconsumeradvocate February 9, 2009 at 1:24 pm


Everyone does The Compact, (buy nothing new) a little differently. My ten-year-old son is an art maniac, and I let him spend his money at this art supply store. It’s three blocks from the house, and it’s his home-away-from-home.

The employees there have done wonders for my son’s self-esteem, and he is their unofficial store mascot.

I used to beat myself up a bit about these “new” purchases, but I have since decided that this store is my “exception.”

This is the kind of business I want to be thriving in my community, and I feel good about supporting them.

Don’t worry about the “snarky,” it was a good question.

Katy Wolk-Stanley
The Non-Consumer Advocate


LisaPie February 9, 2009 at 2:11 pm

Hi Katy,

I like the silver cleaning process you discovered. What I do is use El Cheapo toothpaste and a soft sponge and then wash really well. I suspect your method will get in to the really intricate designs better and more easily.

And thank you so much for the info on the car keys. I bet every mom I have ever seen hands her child the keys to play with and they all end up in the mouth. I will pass this on.


Non Consumer Girl February 10, 2009 at 1:30 am

Thanks for the information re the car keys and the lead levels. I have never heard of this before.
I shall pass this info on to my girlfriends with little ones….


alunachic February 10, 2009 at 7:19 am

I loved reading about your day Katy. Simple and satisfying from beginning to end!
My library is such a haven. I do adore checking out Agatha Christie’s Inspector Poirot DVDs and watching them on the weekend.
Perspective is most important. Connecting with a book/movie/author is a valuable experience for your son.


Magdalena February 10, 2009 at 10:36 am

The aluminum and baking soda trick is one I learned back in high school from a very good Chemistry teacher. (Sorry, Mr. Belinsky, that I completely tanked on the algebra back then. I did learn some things.) I used to sell sterling silver jewelry. DO NOT use this on antique jewelry or anything with a stone! It is perfect for ordinary, daily use silver (I agree with Katy – if you have silver tableware, use it!) but it can remove the valuable patina from antique silver and it can destroy the luster of some stones. We used to use silver polishing cloths, which may be a bit pricey at first, but last for years. How quickly your silver tarnishes depends on a number of factors, such as how often you use it, whether it has regular skin contact (and the skin chemistry of the wearer), and the acidity of your air and water. Toothpaste and a soft cloth is a cheap and adequate way to clean silver jewelry, followed by a rinse in cool water and a rubdown with flannel.


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