Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Virtual Shopping Slays Malls

Thank God Its Monday and, as such, #HappyMonday to everyone! I personally look forward to all Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!



Today is, among other things, one of the biggest virtual shopping days of the year, otherwise known as Cyber Monday. It was officially named so by the National Retail Federation in 2005. Since early this century, continuous increases in online shopping, over the years, have caused a ripple effect of brick-and-mortar stores and malls having to close their doors.

After the Covid-19 pandemic started a couple of years ago, online shopping has soared. Cyber Monday sales are far surpassing Black Friday’s sales, by leaps and bounds. Virtual shopping has become so much more commonplace, now – especially with the younger generations.

I’ve noticed, this year, a lot of brick-and-mortar stores have been offering extremely early “Black Friday deals” to compete with online sales campaigns like “Prime Day”, “Cyber Monday”, and the like. I feel bad for them. I prefer shopping in person, myself. Besides, there have been more and more warnings on my local news programs for “buyers beware”, as scams are everywhere in cyber-land.

Regardless, virtual stores are competing on the world-wide web for everyone’s hard-earned dollars; offering rock-bottom, price-cut deals and fast or free shipping. These days, with inflation and the cost of fuel, shipping can be a deal maker or breaker on many online purchases.

Traditionally, since about the 1950s, Black Friday has been the highpoint of holiday shopping, when shoppers physically went out to the brick-and-mortar stores for the all-time-best deals of the year. Extreme shoppers have waited in lines outside of stores for hours (even days) before they opened for their “special” Black Friday deals.

However, the trend is changing, now. Due to the ever increasing online shopping, over the past couple decades, we’ve witnessed the closings of many small shops, department stores, and malls across America. It’s a new “Amazon era” for online shopping and home delivery. Unfortunately, brick-and-mortar retailers are becoming relics of the past.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 108)


IT’S NOT IMPOSSIBLE to change things, yet I noticed this morning, for the first time, that the clown shop in the mall is gone – vacated, empty. I kept meaning to go there, but in the year or two that it was there, time passed, and I never did. It must’ve been a wonderfully unique shop – operated by a retired circus clown, from what I’ve been told.

Yet, I put off stopping in to see what gifts [and] what fun he had to offer. My husband was in the shop perhaps a few times. He even bought me a little clown statue for my birthday last January [1988] and the thimble shaped like a clown for our niece in California. I was going to stop into the shop soon. I really was.

Now that the shop is gone, I feel personally responsible for the loss. And, of course, multiply me by a few hundred folks in town, too, who could have stopped but didn’t, even though they meant to. We’re all to blame for the loss.

Of course, the shop was located on the ‘street side’ of the mall, too, rather than in the concourse, so it would have to be a special trip around the buildings to get me there. But now that I think about it, I’m saddened by the prospect that my not patronizing the shop contributed to its going out of business.

Certainly, we need clowns in this life. And while my feet are usually anchored firmly in reality, I feel a great need for stepping often into the light-hearted dimension of the whimsical, the amusing, the ridiculous. There comes a time, each day, when the sadness of the tragedies in the worldly arena seem just too much to bear, too much to accept.

The newscasts of radio and television hammer away hourly, repeatedly at whatever catastrophe has occurred recently. There seem to be no good reports of what’s going on in the world. I know there is good. We just don’t hear too much to cheer us though.

The clown shop could easily have provided something to lighten the gloom, lifting the shade to see beyond hardship and unhappiness. But it looks as if people are becoming hardened to the beauty of simplicity and humor. It looks as if they’re growing paranoid instead about their priorities, about cholesterol, sodium, the sun’s rays (which we used to call ‘sunshine’), about how much they should weigh and how long they will live.

More human energy seems to be spent desperately worrying about the uncertainties of the future than is used to enjoy the simple beauty of our NOW! Our precious ‘now’ should hold more than fear. It should instead hold wholesome fun and the expectancy of good.

The interest in outsiders and people with marginal lives is rooted in my own sense of self as I look for the erasers of the gloom, diversions from the serious and the morbid. By no means do I imply that gloom and seriousness and what is morbid should be ignored.

It should be a must be dealt with, but it should require more of our attention than does the lovely, the light-hearted, the lively in life. I could have found some little offering of fun in the clown shop. ‘Laugh and the world laughs with you. [Cry] and you [cry] alone.’ [Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Solitude (1883)]

If I cry, it is because I know it was there – like a lot of life’s jewels at our feet. I just didn’t do anything about it. If I get another opportunity to patronize a good and wholesome thing, like the clown shop, I will. I promise I will – even though the clown shop is gone.



When I was a young teen, Mom used to take me and my sisters to Lakeside Mall. Back then, that was the popular place to shop, with its big, anchor, department stores like Sears, Macy’s, J.C. Penny’s and J.L. Hudson’s. It was an all-day shopping and working event.

Mom gave each of us girls a handful of her business cards to stick in the pockets of various clothes and purse displays, while we shopped. She developed this innovative way to advertise, locally, after hearing an inspiring interview of an award winning car salesman from Detroit. By the way, National Salesperson Day is on Friday of next week (for 2022)!

After a few hours of shopping and marketing, Mom treated us to lunch at one of the department stores’ dining rooms, where she usually found more great dishes to imitate at home. You can’t do that when you shop virtually. There aren’t any interactions with other people – no smiles, no conversations, etc. – I miss those days, at the mall, with Mom.


As seen in…

This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 43)


A SMILE IS the universal, unspoken language between us. Some people smile more easily than others, but a smile is as good as a hug. I just LOVE people who smile a lot! Even when I’m shopping or [when Paul and I are] walking around the campgrounds on one of our abbreviated ‘get-aways’ with our motorhome, I find myself smiling at people I have never seen before, and they smile back. It’s contagious!

People don’t smile as much as they should! I’ve noticed lately how seldom strangers smile at each other in shopping centers and restaurants and other places where average folks mingle or pass. It occurred to me that there was nothing to lose by smiling and nodding at people as I shopped or glanced across a restaurant to other tables.

A surprising thing happened! Grim looking faces spontaneously responded with smiles and nods, as if they were trying to place me or recall where we might have met before. It was just wonderful!


Did you know that synonyms for “cyber” include replicate and imitate? I find it ironic that Mom, the ORIGINAL recipe replicator, never learned how to use the internet to replicate and expand her mail-order business in the new millennium’s digital era.

Early in the new millennium, Mom bought a computer and tried to learn how to operate it, but it proved to be too over-whelming for her to comprehend. She felt so stressed from it, she ended up giving her new computer to one of her grandchildren, instead.

In August 2008, my brother, Mike, created the’s original website for Mom and Dad’s business. It was a new platform from which they could promote their current Secret RecipesTM offerings and give out free recipes too, as Mom traditionally had done from the beginning.


Since Mom and Dad knew nothing about technology, Mike created and managed the website for them for 10 years. They were so grateful for his help in that area! The summer after Mom passed away, I wanted to start writing this blog about her being the ORIGINAL “Secret Recipe Detective”. I asked Mike if I could put my blog on the website that he was still managing. Instead, he transferred the domain to me. For that, I am forever grateful to him, too!


In honor of Thursday, being National Pie Day, here’s TWO of Mom’s copycat pie recipes. The first one is for Grasshopper Pie, like Michigan’s famous Chuck Muer’s and Win Schuler’s restaurants once served; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 251). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].



This second pie recipe of Mom’s was first printed in her self-published cookbook, Top Secret Recipes a la Carte (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Sept. 1979). It’s called Vinegar Pie, from our northern, mid-west roots. Mom updated the recipe and reprinted it in her self-published cookbook, The Joy Of NOT Cooking – Any More Than You Have To (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983, p. 148).


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


November observes, among other things… National Banana Pudding Lovers Month, National Diabetes Month, National Fun with Fondue Month, National Inspirational Role Models Month, National Life Writing Month, National Native American Heritage Month, National Novel Writing Month, National Peanut Butter Lovers Month, National Pepper Month, National Pomegranate Month, National Raisin Bread Month, National Roasting Month, National Spinach and Squash Month, National Sweet Potato Awareness Month (See also February), and National Vegan Month!

Today is also… National French Toast Day!

Tomorrow is… Electronic Greetings Day! Plus, as the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (for 2022), it’s also… National Day of Giving!

November 30th is… National Personal Space Day, National Mason Jar Day, National Mousse Day, and National Mississippi Day! Plus, as the Wednesday after Cyber Monday, it’s also… National Package Protection Day!

Thursday is the start of December, which celebrates, among other things… National Pear Month, National Write A Business Plan Month, National Operation Santa Paws (which runs the 1st-24th), National Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month, National Safe Toys and Gifts Month, Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, National Human Rights Month, and Universal Human Rights Month!

December 1st is also… National Eat a Red Apple Day, National Day With(out) Art Day, and National Rosa Parks Day!

December 2nd is… National Fritters Day, National Mutt Day, and Special Education Day! Plus, as the first Friday in December, it’s also… Faux Fur Friday and National Bartender Day [for 2022]!

December 3rd is… National Roof Over Your Head Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Rhubarb Vodka Day and National Play Outside Day (which is always the first Saturday of EVERY month)!

December 4th is… National Cookie Day, National Dice Day, and National Sock Day! Additionally, the first week of December celebrates… National Cookie Cutter Week!


…48 down and 4 to go!