Burning with Thanks (And The Dress revealed.)

On Sunday I was grateful for vinegar and soda. Here’s why. I put dates in a pan with water and left them to cook. The plan was to use them to sweeten apple crumble. The rest of the dinner was pretty much ready since we were having leftovers. So I went out of the kitchen (first mistake) and into the room with my computer (second mistake.) I was so engrossed in the exciting development my novel was taking/so caught up in chatting on Facebook/so hooked on playing Solitaire (you can take your pick of these three options) that the next time I remembered about the dates was when I had the thought, “What’s that funny smell? Are the neighbours having a bonfire?”

No, my dates were having the bonfire. Not quite, but close. There were no flames, just a lot of black dates and a very black pan.

So here’s where the vinegar and soda come in. As I wrote on Facebook last Sunday, if they gave out prizes for pan-burning I would be the world champion. The good thing about being a world champion at getting distracted and burning pans is that I know what to do. And, in case you are also a world champion at this art, but don’t know what to do, here it is:
Put some baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda depending where you live the world) and vinegar in the burned pan and add a little water so that it covers the burned part. (How much you’ll need will depend on the extent of the damage, so experiment.) Then put it back on the scene of the crime, and cook for a few minutes.

Note to self: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES go back to the other scene of the crime and play around on your computer. (If you need something to do while you wait, take up knitting and stand there in the kitchen doing it.)

When A Few Minutes are up, you should see the black burned gunk begin to lift from the pan. You may need help it a little with a scouring pad, but it will come off, and for that I am very thankful.

On Monday I was thankful for a good night’s sleep.

On Tuesday I was thankful for our new hob. For those of you who don’t have clue what a hob is, here’s a picture of our old one:

The new hob was sitting in our hallway waiting to be fitted when Sunday’s burning incident took place so the two events are completely unrelated! Our old hob was chipped – as you can see in the photo – didn’t work properly and did not look pretty with our dark worktops. See how pretty our new one looks! Much sleeker!

And it works. Every burner works. And it doesn’t make a horrible high-pitched buzzing noise that nearly drives you crazy. So I am in love with it.

On Wednesday I was thankful to have my very first ever guest post on this blog, by Penelope Hart! She wrote about the Black Parrot, that voice in every writer’s head that says our writing isn’t good enough. And on Wednesday I got an email with a link to a blog post Why Gratitude is Good For You. It’s by Dr David Hamilton, who used to work as a research chemist and became fascinated by how often the placebo effect turned out to be as effective as drugs. So he changed the direction of his research and now writes books about why kindness and gratitude is good for us and how it helps heal our bodies.

Wednesday was also the day I discovered that our new hob isn’t just pretty. It’s also fast. Every burner is faster than the ones we had before and I’m not sure “simmer gently” exists. So I can still keep up my old pan-burning habits and add to them pan-boiling over. Still, I’m thankful that when the pans boil over and the burner cuts off, the gas does too.

On Thursday I was very grateful to a friend of my sister. My sister read Drawings in Sand and found a couple of typos. Her friend likes to proof read, so she did just that and found a few mistakes I’d missed in my last attempt to catch them all. On Thursday I went through the reviewed copy and made all the changes. Then I reloaded Drawings onto Drawings In Sand and Smashwords, and this time it should be 100% error free. 

On Friday I was thankful to get a long overdue haircut. Our hairdresser uses organic hair products, and charges about the same as any other hairdresser.

On Saturday I sewed most of the day. And today it’s finished! The dress I wrote about a few weeks ago and that took seventeen years to make, that will forever remind me of my kids when they were little and decided to cut into the bits of fabric lying in my study waiting to be made into a dress. I am thankful that it still fits and doesn’t look totally out of date. And thankful that the girls only cut into the lining, not the dress itself so the repairs don’t show.

The first photo is a little over-exposed, but that makes the pattern show up better. Black Watch tartan.

And here’s the dress with the cardigan I bought from Anthropologie a few weeks ago. They’re made for each other!

 Now I just need somewhere exciting to go in my new outfit. Or maybe I’ll just wear it when I write. In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg suggests getting dressed up to give yourself some inspiration. Actually she suggests dyeing your hair green, wearing blue lipstick and having a cigarette hanging out of your mouth. I’ve got the blue and green, and that will have to do.

Have a good week, and if you’d like to join the Ten Things of Thankful hop or read more posts, click on the button below.

Ten Things of Thankful


  1. The dress is lovely! Well done for finishing it.

    I always add a squirt of washing up liquid to my vinegar/bicarb mix before returning to boil. Just helps that little bit extra, I find. Glad you knew about it though – it’s a handy trick and has saved the life of a couple of my pans!

    Your new hob is VERY pretty 🙂

    1. Thanks Lizzi! It is great to have done that dress.

      I did not know to add washing up liquid to the mix. I will remember that in the extremely unlikely event I should ever burn a pan again.

  2. Your explanation of your pan-burning and pot overflowing made me smile, mostly because I can picture it perfectly. It’s happened to me more than a few times. I never heard of the trick to get burned spots out. Thank you for that! Here’s a trick for you…When boiling something, rest a wooden spoon across the top of the pan. The pot won’t overflow. It does not give you the liberty to walk away and get on your computer, as it doesn’t prevent the complete boiling off of the liquid and burning whatever you were boiling, but it does stop the overflow mess if you are distracted by your knitting. 🙂

    The “hob” looks great! Your dress looks even better. Good for you, finishing it after all these years. And still being able to fit into it. The sweater is perfect for it.

    1. Christine, thank you for that tip so I won’t have overflowing pots while I knit. (First I need to find my knitting, since it’s in a similar to state to that the dress was in a few weeks ago.)

      And you are about the third person I’ve seen refer to the item of clothing I am wearing over the dress as a sweater, so I’m guessing that Americans don’t use the word “cardigan?”

  3. I did not know what a “hob” was, so thanks for improving my vocabulary! The new one looks nice, and it must be nice to have it cook faster, too.

    The dress looks great! I love the fabric.

    1. Kristi, I think hob must be a British word, and so I thought it best to include the photos. Don’t know what Australians, Canadians and so on use.
      Yeah, I love the fabric of the dress too. It was a tartan designed for the Black Watch regiment of the army – I think for WW1, but I could be wrong about that.

  4. “…so hooked on playing Solitaire”

    (lol) so here’s the thing, I play Solitaire easily 2 hours a day (sometimes longer). Since there are few people who find the game as fascinating as I do, I have not had a chance to explain what I enjoy about the game, (at least not with any reasonable chance of the other person *not* walking away, mid-explanation.
    So, for me, the game is a demonstration of the essentially magical-nature of reality. Better, the variability of reality. I will play and win. Then I will play and lose.. a lot. (If I am successful) I will catch myself ‘cheating to lose’. (The right card was not there/the right card is there.)

    thank you for listening.

    1. Nice to meet a fellow Solitaire player Clark. And yours is a fascinating perspective. It’s not wasting time, as I’d previously thought, but testing out the magical nature of reality! I like it! I also like to play around with the variables – the game didn’t work out one way, so let’s try another…

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