Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Forward To Healthy Cleaning

As always, happy Monday to everyone and happy St. Patrick’s Day Eve! #TGIM! Today is a new chance for me to share memories of my mom! #52Chances!

Spring 2020 will begin Thursday night and National Cleaning Week starts on Sunday! However, with the growing spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19), like many others, I started my spring-cleaning regimen early and am doing an even more in-depth cleansing of everything, from top to bottom!

I’m one of those “weirdos” that love to clean – and, also, to organize! I’m not sure why – maybe I inherited it from my Dad, as Mom “strongly disliked” cleaning and organizing. It’s not that she didn’t do it, Mom just didn’t LIKE to do it. Not everyone gets a joy out of things like cleaning and organizing. In fact, most people probably would agree that they don’t care to do it, themselves, any more than they need to – and they will often find excuses to put it off or avoid it all together.

While I really enjoy the finished “accomplishment” of a good and thorough cleaning job (I’ve always loved the smell of chlorine bleach for as long as I can remember), organizing is more like a favorite hobby to me. I’ve been known to dump things out just to re-organize them – like re-doing a puzzle over and over.

For her own office space, Mom preferred, what she called, an “organized mess”. She kept a sign on her desk (as pictured above), which she picked up somewhere after I took it upon myself, one time, to clean and organize her office and desk as a good deed.


Weeks ago, before the Covid-19 virus became such a pandemic, here, I had heard that National Cleaning Week was coming up soon and I actually got a little giddy and started writing down my spring-cleaning-to-do list – as it was soon going to be time to move the furniture around, flip the bedroom mattress and rotate the seasonal clothes – just to name a few of the things I usually do when the spring and fall seasons roll around. I know I’m weird – and that’s okay – just living my true self!

With the run on cleaning products at all the stores, I’ve resorted to making my own disinfectant from water, vinegar and rubbing alcohol – something I learned about 30 years ago, from a local community program, when all of my children were small. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it, adding about ½ tablespoon of peppermint or lemon essential oil for a better scent, as the vinegar and rubbing alcohol can be potent in a small enclosed area, like a bathroom.

However, an ingredient in essential oils is poisonous to cats, so I really don’t use it anymore. I’ll share my “recipe” with all of you, (pictured below) in case anyone else is having difficulties buying disinfecting sprays or wipes these days. As always, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

I read at that the average American spends about six hours a week cleaning their home. By taking on one room of our house a day, as the website suggests, and cleaning it from top to bottom for one hour, I can burn a lot of calories! Suggested cleaning tasks, by the website, include dusting ceiling fans, door moldings and window tops to begin. I also wipe down the door knobs, light switches, ceilings and walls, as well!

One of the cleaning tasks, which the website mentioned, that people put off or try to avoid the most is dusting. That’s my most hated cleaning job because it seriously effects my allergies and I have A LOT of “tchotchkes” to dust! Additional chores that are most commonly avoided by people include: mopping, cleaning the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry. I remember a couple of Mom’s least favorite cleaning tasks were washing the dishes and making the bed. Everybody is different and, yet, we’re all the same!

#CleaningWeek has a great article, called 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. about which I’ve written before. It lists the calorie-burning benefits of many daily chores and cleaning tasks! Since, at that time, I had recently started trying to lose weight and get healthier, it made me love cleaning all the more.

The article claims that 30 minutes of dusting burns 80 calories, 30 minutes of mopping burns 153 calories, 30 minutes of folding clothes burns 72 calories and 30 minutes of ironing burns 76.5 calories. Although, who really irons anymore? These days, I think I only iron “once in a blue moon”, like when I’m quilting.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

Other household “activities” that the article claims burns calories includes moving furniture for one hour to burn 504 calories, sweeping a broom back and forth for 10 minutes to burn 28 calories, vacuuming for 20 minutes to burn 56 calories and, surprisingly, preparing dinner for 30 minutes to burn 74 calories. I wonder if Rachel Ray knows that her 30-minute meals have that perk too!

In addition, the article maintained that three hours spent on house painting will burn a massive 1,026 calories! It just so happens that I began repainting each room of our house this weekend. I started in the living room and have already spent many 3-hour sessions on it, so far. Next is the dining room, then the kitchen, followed by the bathroom. It’s been seven to eight years since any of these rooms were last painted.

Illustrations by Gloria Pitzer

For a little comic relief from all the virus and cleaning concerns, here’s a reprint of one of Mom’s satirical, “No Laughing Matter” articles, called “Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Clean!”


As seen in…

The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan; Feb 14, 1974)

‘Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Clean!’ – by Gloria Pitzer

Many of you have written, asking what shortcuts I recommend for getting through the hang ups of housework. I thought you’d never ask. And I’m happy to share with you some of the lesser known household hints that you are not apt to find in the elegant publications…

Now, my household hints are NOT necessarily recommended by GOOD HOUSEKEEPING, Dr. Seuss, my mother-in-law, the neighbors, Mr. Clean…but they do work! Unless, that is, you’re expecting miracles.

WHAT TO DO WITH LEFTOVERS: If, while they are in the refrigerator, leftovers become as hairy as hedgehogs at bay, don’t try to throw them out. Feed them dead flies and keep them as pets!

WHAT TO DO ABOUT COBWEBS: If you have cobwebs in your corners and can’t figure out why, because you don’t have a cob in the house; ignore them if you can’t reach them. If somebody calls them to your attention, exclaim with pride, “Oh! I can’t touch those. They’re my son’s science project!”

WHAT TO DO ABOUT JAR LIDS THAT REFUSE TO BUDGE: Tell a 4-year-old not to touch them!

IF YOU HAVE OVER-SIZED HIPS: Wear Jodhpurs. They’ll go out where you do!

IF YOU PUT ON WEIGHT EASILY: Let out your couch!

TROUBLE FALLING A SLEEP? If you can’t count sheep… try talking to the Shepherd!

CONCERNED ABOUT SHORTAGES? Help conserve water… bathe with someone you love! Help conserve paper… stamp out bumper stickers! Get an education… drive a school bus! Eat a beaver… save a tree!

TO CONSERVE ENERGY: Don’t hold post-mortems, brooding over your mistakes. The faster you make one, the less apt anybody is to notice it.



CLEANER FLOORS: If you have tried the miracle product as advertised on TV and you still can’t get your floors to look as clean as those seen on the commercial, write to the manufacturer of that cleaner and have them send you that mop!

Cartoon written and illustrated by Gloria Pitzer

SHORT ON SILVERWARE AT MEALTIME? Delegate a search party of children to check out the sand box, toy chest and cold air returns. Chance are, you’ll find them!

TO REMOVE CHEWING GUM from a new, white bedspread, apply peanut butter by rubbing with vigorous motions. If it still doesn’t come out, get a new bedspread!

TO AVOID HAVING YOUR HUSBAND USE THE GUEST TOWELS to clean the carburetor…hang only cleaning rags on the bathroom towel racks!


In honor of St. Patrick’s Day tomorrow, as it will also be National Corned Beef & Cabbage Day, the following recipe comes from Mom’s last cookbook (the ONLY one that’s currently in print) for her good friend’s, Julia Lega’s, legendary Reuben sandwich, as served at Johnnie Lega’s Restaurant & Tavern!

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

THE REUBEN – According to Julia Lega

AS SEEN IN… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 187)

The best Rubens can be ruined by the worst sauerkraut. Most of us open a can and heat it up. My good friend, Julia Lega – who’s well-loved sauerkraut put ‘Beautiful Downtown’ Pearl Beach, MI on the world map of favorable fare – suggested this method and I love it!

Open a can of sauerkraut and dump it into a colander. Squeeze out as much of the liquid in which it is canned as possible and run it under cold water, rinsing it well. Then, squeeze out as much of this water as you can. Put the sauerkraut in an accommodating, oven-proof, sauce pan – or kettle, depending on how much you’re preparing – and add just enough chicken broth to keep the sauerkraut submerged.

Next, for every quart (4 cups) of the “squeezed-out” sauerkraut, stir in a 12-inch length of kielbasa cut into bite-sized pieces and 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar. Then peel, core and grate an apple into this. Cover it and place in a 350°F oven for about 45 minutes, stirring it every 10 minutes or so.  When the kielbasa is tender, well-browned and appears to have absorbed the apple and the liquids, add 1 medium-sized, raw potato – peeled and grated.

Return pan to oven for another 30 minutes or until you have no traces of potato in the mixture. It should almost dissolve into a smooth sauce-like gravy, which keeps the sauerkraut smooth. At this point, taste-test and adjust the seasonings to taste, adding a pinch more sugar, or salt and pepper if you like. Remove the sauerkraut from the pan with a pair of tongs to add to the sandwiches as you prepare them.

To assemble the Reuben sandwich: butter both sides of 2 pieces of dark rye bread or Russian black bread. Place about ½ cup of the drained and prepared sauerkraut on one slice and then add a slice of Swiss cheese and 3 to 4 ounces, thinly sliced, corned beef (see Index for my homemade Corned Brief recipe in this chapter.) Add top slice of bread and grill on a lightly buttered skillet until the outer surfaces of the assembled sandwich has nicely browned on both sides. Serve at once with a Kosher dill spear.

Illustration by Gloria Pitzer

P.S. Food-for-thought until we meet again, next Monday…

#ThankGodItsMondayDay suggests that we… “Stop shaming Monday and look at what Monday has to offer… 52 CHANCES to see a beautiful sunrise… share your talents with the world… teach someone a new skill that will better their lives…” For me, it’s 52 CHANCES to tell Mom’s story and, hopefully, ignite happy memories for others; while re-inspiring love in the kitchen, in the home and family, throughout the neighborhood and around the world… 11 down, 41 to go!

Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective is available for sale, at $20.99 each, through the publisher, Balboa Press, at; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at

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