There’s a fine line between ritual and habitual

I had a plan for last week’s 52Frames theme. The theme was Ritual, and I was going to take a picture of Rockford and I watching “Saturday Night Live.” It certainly isn’t a ritual in the Merriam-Webster sense — there’s neither ceremony nor religious rite involved — but it’s something we’ve done most every Saturday night since Poppy was born. But I couldn’t get the picture to come out the way I’d envisioned it. The light was weird and my arm looked weird and SNL was a rerun and I was already tired, so I chucked the plan. And when it didn’t pan out on Saturday evening, I figured I’d just be skipping yet another week.

Then I woke up Sunday morning and heard Rockford and Poppy working on their Sunday morning pancakes, and I thought it would be a nice little ritual to capture for posterity.

52Frames, week 11: Ritual “Sunday Morning Pancakes"
52Frames, week 11: Ritual
“Sunday Morning Pancakes”

It’s far too dark — you can barely find Rockford in the picture — so I may try it again this Sunday. I feel like it was a good thing just to get a picture turned in this week, though, lest I slip into the habit of giving up quite so easily.

A menu plan for when the sun finally makes an appearance

The weather this week is supposed to be warm and sunny, so I thought we might try out some fine-weather foods.

Monday: “Take-Out style Sesame Noodles
These are super-simple, and tonight I tried to teach Poppy how to make them. She lost interest and wandered away before they were finished, but everyone ate the noodles even though they were on the spicy side.
Tuesday: Coconut curry chicken
I bought a jar of sauce for this, so it too shall be super-simple.
Wednesday: Blackened trout
My favorite restaurant in Columbia MO used to serve blackened redfish, and it was the greatest. I don’t think I’ve tried to blacken anything myself, and I’ve also never made trout. So much room for disaster!
Thursday: Cheeseburgers
I keep putting cheeseburgers on the menu, and then we keep not having them. Poor Petey.
Friday: ???
I think Poppy will be going out on the town with her Grandma on Friday, and Rockford will be at a basketball game. I’m not sure what Pete and I will be doing, but I know he’ll want cheeseburgers again.

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Can you clean a filthy oven using baking soda and vinegar? An investigative report.

I have never, in all my decades of using ovens, done a deep-clean on one of them. I did the line-it-with-foil trick in all of the properties we’ve rented (which Real Simple and other sources say is a bad idea), but I never did it once we actually bought a house.

We use our oven a lot, and it was a filthy doom pit in there. Really. Here’s an unaltered picture to prove it:

Can you clean an oven with baking soda and vinegar?

See? Hideous.

After more than three years of pizza, pie and casseroles, I decided I should probably go ahead and clean the oven. I’d heard that the self-cleaning cycle could damage the oven, and I didn’t want to use any harsh chemicals. After a little research, I decided I’d give’s baking soda and vinegar method a try.

First I made a too-thin paste using baking soda, water and a little bit of salt, because I have a bad habit of not actually measuring things. I added some more baking soda to fix it, then I started glopping it onto the floor and walls of the oven. TheKitchn suggests using rubber gloves for this. TheKitchn is smart, but I didn’t have any rubber gloves so I just used my dainty little paws. The bad news: I may or may not have fingerprints now. The silver lining: My hands are pretty well exfoliated.

Twelve hours, two loads of laundry, and trips to the grocery store, Target and the library later, I sprayed some plain white vinegar over the baking soda and went to work with my brand-new scrub brush. The result? A good bit of the baked-on badness came off, but there was still a lot left to go.

Can you clean an oven with baking soda and vinegar?

It would seem that there was a large spill in there at some point, and it wasn’t giving up so easily. So I mixed up some more baking powder paste and applied it, and the next morning the scrub brush and I went once more into the breach.

Can you clean an oven with baking soda and vinegar?

The floor of the oven looks considerably better now. You can clearly see that I didn’t get any of the grease spatter off of the walls, though. I had a very hard and awkward time reaching the back one, and the baking soda & vinegar combo didn’t work very well on the sides.

So I wasn’t able to get the oven entirely clean with baking soda and vinegar, but it’s much much better than it was this time last week. I’m going to go ahead and use some oven cleaner to finish it off, but I suspect that the baking powder and vinegar combo would be sufficient on an oven that wasn’t as far beyond as mine. I’ll try it again the next time the oven needs a cleaning; hopefully that won’t be three years from now.