Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring Benefits Begin

Spring begins today so happy spring and happy Monday to everyone! Thank God Its Monday, again.  I personally look forward to all Mondays; as they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




Spring begins tonight AND April is just around the corner – which is, among other things, National Lawn And Garden Month, as well as National Garden Month! I’ve written in other blog posts, of how growing your own food saves money on groceries – especially if you don’t factor in the value of your time – but gardening is beneficial in other ways, too.

Most gardening requires some amount of physical care and a continuous dedication of time to such care. When Mom started her newsletter in 1974, she used to dedicate about a page to gardening tips and tricks. She was an avid gardener, when she had time. As her business grew, her gardening time shrunk.

Except for most perennials, you can’t just drop some seeds and come back in a few months to reap the harvest. If only it were that easy! Gardening, after tilling the soil and planting the seeds, usually requires a lot of daily, weekly, and monthly activities – like fertilizing, mulching, watering, trimming, pulling weeds, etc.

However, on the upside, all those activities burn calories. Plus, our bodies get a lot of essential Vitamin D, as we’re doing all that outside, in the sunshine, which is a natural source for it! Gardening also contributes to many important life skills like having faith, patience, and commitment, just to name a few.’s infographic, 6 Surprising Health Benefits of Gardening, explains how gardening can also strengthen our immune systems, relieve stress, elevate feelings of happiness, provide a physical workout, stimulate the brain, and even encourage a healthier diet. Check it out.

Gardening is classified as “moderate” or “light aerobic” exercise because it works all the major muscle groups – legs, buttocks, arms, shoulders, neck, back and abdomen – as you stretch, bend, lift, pull, push, etc. Tasks that use these muscles build strength and burn calories.

Gardening is also known to improve heart and lung health and help prevent obesity. It also lowers the risks of high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoporosis. Plus, it stimulates serotonin production, in the brain; regulating mood, anxiety, and happiness. There’s growing research on all the positive effects gardening has on, both, mental and physical health.

One hour of light gardening and yard work burns more than walking, at a moderate pace, for the same amount of time, as it works more muscle groups. An hour of gardening, depending on the specific activities involved, can burn about 324 calories or more. Feel the burn!

Pushing a bagless lawn mower (not a self-propelled or rider style) for 1 hour can also burn about 324 calories and raking up the grass clippings for another 30 minutes, burns an additional 171 calories, according to 20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn, by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (date unknown), on


The afore mentioned article additionally asserts that reducing waste reduces the waist, since picking up yard waste can also reduce your waist size; claiming that 4 hours, of hard yard work, burns about 1,800 calories. That’s a whopping 450 calories per hour! Did you know that riding a bike for an hour only burns about 135 calories?


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 171)


WHENEVER I FIND PEOPLE unable to master a difficult experience, I like to think of Charles Schwab’s theory about sweetening somebody’s self-image with a little praise.

Whatever the situation in life, there are few people who do not do better work, nor put forth greater effort, under a spirit of approval than they ever would under a spirit of criticism. I like to think of approval and praise as our emotional dessert!

The conflict of opinion between the ‘down-home cook’ and the so-called ‘food purists’, over what is good, and which is bad for our diet, reminds me of the story of the two children playing in a garden where their mothers were visiting. One of the children came running to her mother, crying that the garden was a dreadful place!

When the mother asked her why, the child cried that it was full of bushes that had long sharp thorns that scratched her. The other child soon came skipping back to her mother exclaiming that the garden was a delightful place to play and she was having such a wonderful time there.

When the mother asked this child why, the little girl replied that every thorn bush in the garden was full of lovely red soft roses that smelled so nice and felt so soft to the touch… So it must all boil down to what we are looking for in life – the thorns or the roses!

Early spring is usually when I start pruning our large patches of roses and wild, black raspberries, growing in the backyard. Cutting out all the dead stems and canes makes room for new ones to grow. Thick gloves are highly recommended for this task, to help prevent the hands from getting impaled by the thorns!

Because they’re perennials, not much care is required afterward, until it’s harvest time. But I have to closely watch the timing of that or the birds will harvest all the raspberries, first! And while I am happy to feed our backyard feathered friends, I’d like to be able to gather some, myself, for jam and pies and such.


Early spring is also a wonderful time for bird watching, as flocks return (from down south) to roost here! Our cats have been sitting in our dining room window a lot, lately; watching the birds eating from their feeders and around the lawn, and building nests in the houses my husband made and hung for them.

The spring perennials have started peeking through the thawing ground and the bright sunny yellow of witch hazel is popping against the fading winter landscape. But the arrival of Michigan’s state bird, the red-breast robin, is usually one of our first signs of spring, around here.

Some robins don’t even migrate south, in the fall, anymore – not like they used to. I wonder if their adaptation to our more-mild-than-normal winters, lately, is just another sign of the increase in global warming.


A wide variety of birds like to roost in Michigan, March through October. Others are here all year long like the cardinals, woodpeckers and blue jays. However, most of the varieties that we see are migraters – in with the spring season and back out by mid-autumn. Many people, here, are that way, too – they’re affectionately called “snow birds”.

Bird watching is said to be very therapeutic and, trust me, if you feed them, they will come! I remember Mom always putting out special treats of peanuts, bird seed, and peanut butter for the backyard birds (and squirrels). Watching the birds, she said, relaxed her and inspired a flow of creative thoughts, for her writing. My husband and I do the same.

Throughout the spring, we like to put out orange halves and small cups of grape jelly for the orioles that migrate to our backyard. I’ve seen the woodpeckers enjoy these treats too! It’s also a joy to watch the yellow finches fight over the perches on the thistle feeder. But when the oriole wants thistle, all the finches grudgingly move out of the way.

One of our resident woodpeckers made himself heard, early the other morning, with a loud “rat-a-tat-tat”, on an old tree behind our house. It echoed in our quiet neighborhood. Meanwhile, a big “Mama” robin, was perched in another tree, looking into our garden – probably for worms rising from the thawing earth or stuff to add to her nest.


As seen in…

Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. 15)


COOKING IS ONE OF THOSE personal accomplishments that afford us all the opportunity to express ‘talent’. We love being approved of. In fact, we eat it up! It’s the little pat on the back that gives us the incentive to continue trying. And where else, but in the kitchen, can you try to win approval with such satisfying results!

I’m very partial to my kitchen because it is the one place in our home where I feel the most comfortable! Whether I’m there alone, working on a recipe, or sitting at my desk, looking for inspiration on a new article I’m writing, or sharing a cup of coffee with a neighbor or a friend, who’s dropped by – it’s my favorite room!

I have a desk in the kitchen right next to the [sliding glass] door…that overlooks the yard. Our daughter, Debbie, and our son-in-law, Jim, gave me a flowering crab [apple] tree last Mother’s Day, which they planted right in the middle of the yard. I can enjoy it’s flowers each spring; also the very long bare, red branches during the autumn and it’s snow-covered limbs all winter.

It’s my sundial, by which I observed the seasons and the changes involved with this natural wonder. While the Scotch pines around this little tree never change, never go through the transition of bud to blossom to barren branches and then buds again, I can see the contrasts that are parallel to our own personal predicaments.

Some things, places – and yes, even people – never seem to change, while others go through budding and blossoming and withering away, only to come right back to life again in the sunshine of human kindness; as does my tree, in the sunshine of the seasons.


Before Covid-19 hit us, Mackinaw City used to host an annual “Mackinaw Raptor Fest”, celebrating the unique convergence of migrating birds every spring and fall, due to the area’s exceptional location at the rare intersection of two peninsulas and two of the Great Lakes. Mackinaw was one of my parents’ favorite map dots to go for a long weekend.


In honor of March, being National Celery Month, here are THREE of Mom’s copycat recipes – Mackus Red Fox House Dressing, Celery Seed Dressing (Like Women’s City Club – Detroit), and homemade Celery Mix; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, pp. 16 & 30). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition)].





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


March celebrates, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Craft Month, and National Sauce Month!

[NOTE: Lent began on Wednesday, Feb. 22nd, and will run throughout March, until Thursday, April 6th (for 2023).]

Today is also… National Proposal Day, National Ravioli Day, and World Flour Day, as well as it being National Flour Month!

March 21st is… National California Strawberry Day, National Common Courtesy Day, National French Bread Day, and National Single Parent Day! Plus, as the third day (Tuesday) of the third full week of the third month (for 2023), it’s also… National 3-D Day!

March 22nd is… National Bavarian Crepes Day, National Goof Off Day, and National West Virginia Day!

March 23rd is… National Chia Day, National Chip and Dip Day, National Near Miss Day, National Melba Toast Day, National Puppy Day, and National Tamale Day!

March 24th is… National Chocolate Covered Raisin Day, and National Cheesesteak Day!

March 25th is… National Lobster Newburg Day!

March 26th is… National Nougat Day and National Spinach Day! Plus, as the fourth Sunday in March (for 2023), it’s also the beginning of… National Cleaning Week.


…12 down and 40 to go!

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