Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Pen Pals And Handwriting

Once again, 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!


Summer has unofficially started and I’m so looking forward to summertime road trips and picnics like I wrote about last week. I’m also looking forward to going camping, again! June is just a few days away and it celebrates, among other things, National Camping Month and National Great Outdoors Month! I’ll be writing more about that next week.


Today, I want to write about pen pals, as Thursday is not only the start of June, but also National Pen Pal Day! Handwriting and letter writing are becoming things of the past – nostalgia keeps it hanging on by a thread, though.

Have you ever been a pen pal? Many young pen pal relationships start from a brief friendship at summer camp or as strangers that never met, such as through a school writing program or magazine ad. Nowadays, you can get pen pals online.

My first time, as a pen pal, was when I was in 5th grade and “assigned” a pen pal who was also in 5th grade, in another state. That was through a national school writing program. We only corresponded for one semester.

We learned about each other’s likes and dislikes, families and friends, as well as school and community events. I loved being and having a pen pal. I wrote to several others, over the following years, most of whom I found through ads in various teen magazines.

It was wonderful, getting mail addressed to me and reading about my new friend’s life in another state. And the reciprocation was just as special. Eventually, most stopped writing, as they got older and busier, which happens often. Very seldom do people ever maintain friendships from childhood into their teen years, let alone into adulthood.

However, I’ve remained friends with one pen pal for over 46 years, now! Although, nowadays, other than some notes on our annual Christmas cards, we don’t physically write letters to each other anymore because we often keep in touch on Facebook. We’ve still never met in person, though.

Sometimes pen pal relationships last less than a year. However, most pen pals remain friends for many years – some for a lifetime. The best pen pals are usually those with common interests or who are open-minded to learning about other people, cultures, and languages. Pen pals generally want to connect with the world outside their own borders.

Pen pals can be people who already know each other but live far apart. Most often, pen pals are strangers that never meet in person. Through an exchange of letters, they share mutual interests and teach each other about their different backgrounds, religions, and lifestyles.

Mom was pen pals, for her entire adult life, with one of her classmates that had moved to New York. She also offered a monthly pen pal exchange in her newsletter, during its first year of publication, in 1974. Mom always encouraged my own pen pal friendships when I was young.


I ALWAYS TRY TO BE brief in my messages of importance to someone on whom I wish to make an impression. As often the importance of what you want to say is lost in too many words. Another writer [Robert Southey, English Poet (1774-1843)] put it best: ‘Be brief, for words are like sunbeams – the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn!’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 62)


According to, pen pals “are people who regularly write to each other, particularly via postal mail [aka: snail mail]. Pen pals are usually strangers whose relationship is based primarily, or even solely, on their exchange of letters.”

The term, “pen pals” (which began as “pen friends” in the 1920s), has steadily been around since the 1930s; thanks to the Student Letter Exchange society, formed in 1936, to help people find suitable pen pals. It also helped students from different countries connect through letters and learn about each other’s cultures, while improving reading and writing skills.’s The World’s Oldest Pen Pals Have Turned 100 Years Old [author unknown (Jan. 9, 2023)] is a really interesting and inspiring 2-minute read about a British man and American woman who’ve been pen pals since 1938, when they were both 16 years old. They both recently turned 100 years old and still correspond (with some help). Check it out!

At, How to Find a Modern-Day Pen Pal, by Alexandra Lim-Chua Wee (April 16, 2019), is a great source from which to start, if you’re feeling nostalgic and want to establish a pen pal relationship – with a peer, an active military member or a veteran, a senior citizen, a “shut-in”, or someone from another country just to name some examples.

Nowadays, we mostly use email and social media platforms, for corresponding. But some of us “older folk” still prefer the old-fashion way – handwritten, with pen and paper (maybe even fancy stationary), an envelope and stamp, a walk to the mailbox, and don’t forget to put the flag up so your postal carrier knows there’s mail waiting to go out!

It’s the simple things in life – like getting or sending a personal letter or card in the postal mail (aka: snail mail) – that still thrill some of us and make us smile, with happy memories of days gone by.

If you’ve never been a pen pal, you may be wondering: “What should I write in my first letter?” I suggest that you first write about where you found their details. Then begin your initial introduction – the basics of who you are – such as name, age, occupation (or grade, if a student), where you’re from, a little about your family/pets (if any).

Next, share your common interests and other details about yourself – hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes. You can also write about what your typical day is like. Keep it personalized but don’t overdo it. Ask your pen pal some questions about their life but, again, don’t overdo it. Save some for the next letter, too.

In From Me, With Love: The Lost Art of Letter Writing (Nov. 26, 2016), as seen on, the author, Jon McGregor, wrote:

“I asked people to send us letters; real letters, written by hand and sent through the post. I sat in the office with my student assistants and waited for the letters to arrive. There was something exciting about sorting through the pile, letters from Canada and the US, from Spain and Germany and France, from Donegal and Dublin and Brighton and Tring. We set to work with the letter knives and started to read. I was hoping that they would, while still being framed as letters, take the form of stories, essays, poems, memoir, criticism. What actually happened was that almost everyone wrote about the nostalgic and rare pleasure of sitting down to write a letter at all.”

Reading and writing have many benefits – physically, mentally, and emotionally. They’re great, simple “workouts” that stimulate brain function. Writing is a wonderful way for seniors to exercise their minds and hands. Pen pals often write about their day’s events or current affairs, which helps keep one’s mind sharp.

Therefore, writing is also known to help with memory and putting your life events in perspective with how people in other parts of the world live, too. Writing also improves communication skills, productivity, and overall happiness; while decreasing stress and anxiety.


Handwriting is becoming a thing of the past. Everything is written electronically these days – school papers, emails, texts, even notes. In the unending, human quest for making life easier, the latest contributor to the dying practice of writing, is AI – Artificial Intelligence. Personally, I think it’s a scary thing.

In general, writing anything by hand is becoming a lost practice. I’ve heard that cursive writing (penmanship) isn’t even taught in school anymore. Although “handwriting” and “penmanship” are often used interchangeably, they’re really not the same. “Handwriting” is self-described – the act of writing by hand. “Penmanship” is the ability to write legibly.

Remember when we all used to send and receive handwritten holiday, birthday, and anniversary cards, as well as “Thinking of You” and “Thank You” notes? They are all becoming dying traditions.

Thankfulness is an emotion. Gratitude is an attitude – that of appreciation under any circumstance. Gratitude involves being thankful, but it’s more than just that. Gratitude means being thankful and appreciative of life every day – even when it’s a bad day or nothing special is happening.


IN THE MEANTIME, we open letters every day from people all over the world, saying ‘thank you for writing your books’ – ‘I feel as if I know you just from reading your books’ – ‘I don’t know whether to keep up on reading or run to the kitchen and bake something’ – and then I know [nothing can] keep me from continuing with this work. – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in Gloria Pitzer’s Mixed Blessings – Recipes & Remedies (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; March 1984, p. xv)


In honor of TODAY, still being May and National Salad Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Chicken Salad Like Hudson’s; as seen in her self-published cookbook, Secret Fast Food Recipes – Revised (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; Oct. 1998, 20th printing, p. 28).

I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.


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


May is still celebrating, among other things… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Hamburger Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!



Today is also… National Coq Au Vin Day! Plus, as the last Monday in May (for 2023), it’s also… National Memorial Day!

Tomorrow is… National Creativity Day, National Water a Flower Day, and National Mint Julep Day!

May 31st, is… National Macaroon Day, National Utah Day, and National Smile Day! Plus, as the last Wednesday in May (for 2023), it’s also… National Senior Health & Fitness Day!

Thursday begins the month of June, which observes, among other things… National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month, National Candy Month, National Caribbean American Month, National Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Iced Tea Month, National Papaya Month, National Soul Food Month, National Rose Month, and National Turkey Lovers Month!

June 1st, is also… National Olive Day, National Say Something Nice Day, and National Hazelnut Cake Day!

June 2nd, is… National Rotisserie Chicken Day and National Rocky Road Day! This day is also National Leave The Office Early Day – unless June 2nd falls on a weekend day then it’s observed on the nearest [Friday or Monday] business day. Plus, as the first Friday in June (for 2023), it’s… National Doughnut Day, too!

June 3rd, is… National Egg Day [which should be in May, with National Egg Month], National Repeat Day, and National Chocolate Macaroons Day! Plus, as the first Saturday in June (for 2023), it is also… National Trails Day, National Bubbly Day, National Prairie Day, and National Play Outside Day [which is the first Saturday of every month]!

Additionally, starting the first Saturday in June and running through the second Saturday (June 3rd-20th for 2023), it’s… International Clothesline Week and National Fishing and Boating Week!

June 4th, is… National Cheese Day, National Cognac Day, and National Hug Your Cat Day! Plus, as the first Sunday in June (for 2023), it’s also… National Cancer Survivor’s DayAdditionally, starting the first Sunday in June (4th-10th for 2023), it’s… National Gardening Week and Community Health Improvement Week!


…22 down and 30 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Summer Road Trips and Picnics

Thank God Its Monday again! I love Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you!




You can almost feel summer in the air now. Even though it doesn’t really start until June 21st, Memorial Day has become the unofficial start of summer. And this Friday is the unofficial start of the Memorial Day weekend. Among other things, Friday is also National Road Trip Day and National Cooler Day! 


When my parents were empty-nesters and needed a break from their long work week, they’d often go on a road trip somewhere – for the day or the weekend. It didn’t matter if it was a planned trip or a “new scenic route” (when Dad got lost), because they were together, exploring, and enjoying Michigan’s beautiful scenery.

Did you know that Michigan has 3,288 miles of coastline that borders four of the five Great Lakes? It’s the longest freshwater coastline in the U.S. In fact, regardless of water type (sea or fresh), Michigan is only in second place, to Alaska, in total length of coastline.

Sometimes, however, “work” would manage to creep back in, because whenever they stopped for a bite to eat, Mom always managed to find someone’s [restaurant] “house special” that she wanted to analyze and duplicate when she got home.

Whenever possible, my husband and I LOVE to go on road trips to different areas in our scenic state of Michigan, just like my parents used to do. We really enjoy exploring the sparkling, blue water shorelines of the Great Lakes, surrounding most of our state; as well as the in-land lakes, small towns, rivers, forests, farmlands, and parks.

Additionally, Sunday is celebrating National Beef Burger Day and National Hamburger Day, all of which adds up to more great reasons for a road trip and picnic (or a backyard barbecue) this weekend to celebrate the unofficial start of summer!

May is coming to a close soon so, this weekend, celebrate that it’s still National Barbecue Month, National Hamburger Month, National Salad Month, American Cheese Month, National Egg Month, and National Salsa Month!

What are your favorite go-to picnic or backyard barbecue foods? Among classic picnic treats, the finger foods that travel well and won’t spoil on a warm day include sandwiches/wraps, fried chicken, fresh vegetables and fruit. Remember – if anything has mayo in it, keep it chilled!

Aside from the “main dish”, popular picnic foods include appetizers like deviled eggs, pigs-in-a-blanket, and stuffed mushrooms; sides like mac-n-cheese or baked beans; coleslaw and salads like pasta, potato, veggie, and fruit; desserts like pies, brownies, bars, and cookies; plus, snacks like string cheese, meat sticks, chips, pretzels, and trail mix.

Just as in any celebration, throughout the year, a very important part of picnic activities, besides socializing, getting fresh air, and making memories, is eating the food! Therefore, I’m including, here, a list (based on a Google search consensus) for 10 popular food choices to take on a picnic.

10 Popular Picnic Food Picks:

    • Fried Chicken
    • Hot Dogs
    • Sandwiches/Wraps
    • Pasta Salad
    • Potato salad
    • Baked beans
    • Deviled Eggs
    • Watermelon
    • Brownies
    • Pie

Things to do on a picnic outing (besides eating) include playing music, singing/dancing, walking, playing table/yard games, bird watching, people watching, sun bathing; plus, if you’re at a beach, you can add in searching for skipping stones or sea shells, swimming, fishing, and building sand castles.

NEEDLESS TO SAY, I can’t wait until we can begin our ‘motor-home camping’ again with our Good Sam friends. It’s our weekend vacation pleasure, May through October. Becoming part of the Good Sam organization is the best thing that has ever happened to us, where we could both enjoy mutual friendships and activities. Wonderful, caring people, who constantly remind us that ‘there are no strangers in Good Sam – only friends we haven’t met, yet!’ – Gloria Pitzer, as seen in… “GOOD SAM – CARING AND CAMPING”, from Gloria Pitzer’s Secret RecipesTM Newsletter (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May-June 1987, 126th issue, p. 3)]

You don’t need to go on an expensive, fancy vacation or plan an extravagant party to reconnect with family and friends over the Memorial Day weekend. A simple picnic is a fun and relaxing way to gather and make memories. But if you want to have MORE than a “simple” picnic…

Have you ever heard of a mystery picnic? I recently discovered this fun twist on our iconic, seasonal tradition at, out of Australia. I can’t wait to create and host my own scavenger hunt style picnic for a special summer gathering with friends and family!

According to the website, “mystery picnics” combine travel, food, and fun; while solving a series of clues that take you to various places, where you collect things to add to the “picnic basket” at the final destination. It’s a fun idea to explore the area, as you collect “picnic basket items”, and then gather with the other guests to share your collection and adventures.

The difference between a treasure hunt and scavenger hunt is slight. A treasure hunt has only one thing for which to hunt (aka: the treasure) – the first one to find it wins. Once “the treasure” is found the hunt is done for everyone. A scavenger hunt offers each guest a list or variety of things to find/collect.

Both hunts use riddles and clues to send participants from one place to another. Usually, participants can work in pairs or in teams or individually. A scavenger hunt is typically played in an extensive outdoor area but it can also be scaled down to play at home, like a treasure hunt.

The host typically creates a “trail”, so that the answer to one clue reveals the next one. You can either write them on pieces of paper hidden at the chosen locations or put them in an “online” forum (like an “event” or “group” page on Facebook) that gives clues to the answers, as well.

The first riddle should be included in the initial invitation. Guests have to figure it out before they start, so they know where to go first and collect something for the picnic, along with a clue to the next destination. Repeat as often as necessary, before getting to the final destination – the “mystery picnic” spot.


A checklist comes in handy, when packing for anything. I use part of my camping checklist for my picnic “basket”, which is actually a plastic tote. It’s always on the ready so I can easily throw it in the trunk of our car, along with a food bag and cooler, whenever my husband and I want to go on a spontaneous, all-day Road Trip.

It may seem like a lot of stuff but it actually packs up fairly small and compact. As a Mom of three, I learned from my own mom, over the years, (as she used to have to pack for a family of seven) how to pack 10 pounds of stuff in a 5-pound bag. I found organization is key. As the old adage says: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it!”


In honor of May, also being National Salad Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Macaroni (or Potato) Salad, Like the Colonel’s; as seen in her last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – Best Of The Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 29). [A revised reprint of Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).]

I also gave this recipe out a couple of years ago, on Kathy Keene’s Good Neighbor’ radio show, on WHBY (Appleton, WI). Kathy has since retired. The show was discontinued and, unfortunately, my link to the recorded audio doesn’t work anymore.




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


May also celebrates… National Asparagus Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

Today is… National Craft Distillery Day, World Paloma Day, National Maritime Day, National Solitaire Day, and National Vanilla Pudding Day!

Tomorrow is… National Lucky Penny Day and National Taffy Day!

Wednesday, May 24th, is… National Yucatan Shrimp Day, Brother’s Day, National Escargot Day, and National Wyoming Day! 

Thursday, May 25th, is… National Brown-Bag It Day and National Wine Day!

May 26th, is… National Blueberry Cheesecake Day! Plus, as the Friday before Memorial Day (for 2023), it’s also… National Don’t Fry Day! 

Saturday, May 27th, is… National Grape Popsicle Day!

Sunday, May 28th, is… National Brisket Day!


…21 down and 31 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Etiquette and Manners

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!



As the second full week of May, this is National Etiquette Week! According to, Etiquette is a code of ethics or set of standards for acceptable social and personal behaviors, which are observed and practiced in polite societies, as well as in social classes or groups.

Etiquette refers to socially suitable and responsible behaviors. In simpler words, it’s a guideline of customs for good manners and civil conduct in a cultured society. Synonyms for “good mannered” include civil, considerate, cordial, courteous, and gracious, according to

There are a lot of great benefits that come from using good manners. Obviously, it makes you more pleasant to be around and draws others to you, like a magnet. Knowing how to behave and what is expected of you, in various social situations, produces positive reinforcements from others. Another benefit is that it helps build confidence and self-esteem.

My husband and I were recently discussing how our parents taught us these things (etiquette and manners) throughout our childhoods. We raised our children in the same manner. Somewhere along the way, parents stopped teaching these things to the next generations. I work in retail – so I witness it all the time.

Some examples of using proper etiquette include saying things like “please”, “thank you”, “I’m sorry”, and “excuse me”. Be punctual, professional, responsive, and respectful. Practice active listening and don’t interrupt others. Speak with kindness, honesty, a smile, and eye-contact. Give compliments and avoid negative remarks and criticisms.

The list goes on and on! Open doors for others. Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing. Dress appropriately. Shake hands/fist-bump in greetings or agreements. Don’t be boastful or arrogant. Respect your elders. Be kind and compassionate. Show appreciation and gratitude.

Table manners and meal etiquette is usually different at home than it is at someone else’s house or out in public. Commonly though, chew with your mouth closed; be observant of your surroundings and other people; read the room and choose your words/topics wisely, watching your volume, as well. Avoid using your cell phone in social settings.

These are all examples of good manners that show consideration for others. Holidays, weddings, funerals, and church services are other settings/events that follow certain rules of conduct (or etiquette). Etiquette and good manners are essential in life, as they help us to behave well at home and in society.


As seen in…

No Laughing Matter, By Gloria Pitzer (Circa 1971)


SOMETHING HAS GOT TO be done about etiquette books. All of them seem to be written for grownups. This makes as much sense as sending Twiggy to a sauna bath. The grownups I know have beautiful manners. It’s a joy to be in their company.

On the other hand, how many children are invited to catered [affairs]? Give a grownup a present for his [or her] birthday and he [or she will] be as happy as a hippy with a new string of beads. He [or she] doesn’t burst into tears and declare outrageously: ‘But I already have a Hot Wheels [or Barbie] case!’

Emily Post has wasted her energies on adults. She should have directed her talents to children. We’re all aware of little children’s charms. I have noticed this whenever I take my 4-year old with me.

I have yet to have the produce manager at the ‘A & P’ pat me on the head and offer me an apple. Nor has the bank teller offered me a sucker, only to hear me rapt: ‘But I want a purple one. I hate green!’

The experts claim children learn by example rather than precept. I wish they would then explain why a child would rather sit ON the table or UNDER it, when parents sit on chairs – with all four legs of that chair on the floor, yet!

Most parents hope to instill in their offspring, during infancy, the simple precept of keeping their fingers out of the Pablum; and accelerate it through teenage adolescence, with more sophisticated postulates of good table manners.

We then hope they come to know that forks are NOT for tapping table legs or catapulting peas off of somebody’s head. Heaven knows we parents try! Yet, children, in spite of their endearing young charms are not socially in demand.

Grandmothers do not invite them to spend the entire summer with them – a weekend, maybe! And you’re not about to serve fondue to them, at dinner because, for one thing, little children would rather build something out of their mashed potatoes than eat them.

The trouble with children is they fail to realize that parents are emotionally insecure. And the reason children must be taught to conform to basic social graces is that, someday, they too will be adults. They too will become attached to certain material objects they will respect and cherish and want others to respect and cherish…

Like plants and vases and ball point pens – that bicycles are very expensive and should not be left in the drive-way, where the garbage man might run over them.

A six-year old cannot understand, even though you’ve explained it to her 37 times why she cannot take your silver gravy ladle to the sandbox or your wiglet to ‘show-and-tell’. But just wait until you try to throw out a bald-headed Barbie doll, with a string missing from her back and [only] one leg.

Reasoning and civilized behavior are what distinguishes human beings from animals. We start to learn etiquette at a very young age – from our parents and family, as well as from institutions like schools, churches, and businesses.

There are a variety of different “codes of etiquette”, depending on diverse places and events – such as in a store, place of business, or corporation; during formal/informal “meetings”, at weddings and funerals, while dining/eating out, when talking on the phone, and even bathroom usage.

Kids are sponges. Teach them early about good behavior. It takes a village – so set good examples for them to follow! Etiquette is not written rules with which everyone HAS to comply, or else. However, there are consequences to bad behaviors, while good behaviors are rewarded. When we use good manners, life is so much more pleasant!

Etiquette teaches us how to behave appropriately and treat others respectfully, in any context – such as being a good neighbor and citizen. There’s also proper etiquette for travel, in workplaces and schools, and on the internet [aka: netiquette]. By the way, National Business Etiquette Week is the first full business week [Monday to Friday] in June.

‘I believe these people agree that there is a greater need to recognize decency and honesty, but in good taste; savoring dependability, unselfishness, compassion and, yes, good manners – all of which are basic to the good life for both the individual and the community.’ – Helen Hayes (in a commencement address). [As seen in… This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 17).]


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. 8)


EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE a few good examples to follow at some time in their life. I’m fortunate to have found several… My next door neighbor is one good example to follow.

She’s the one [who’ll] take a cake to a new neighbor, to welcome them. And she’s the one [who’ll] collect for flowers if there’s a death in the neighborhood. She always waves when she sees another neighbor and always smiles. A good example!

My mother is another good example I’ve followed. Her best gift and her greatest asset is that she’s always been a patient listener and a wise advisor. She was absolutely loyal to my father, through all of his mistakes, in each of his blunders.

The world could turn their backs on her children but she would always be there for [us] when we needed her. She’s given me an example that’s going to be tough to equal. In time though, I hope that I can say I’ve had so many good examples to follow – I’ll try to be one, myself, to somebody else.

Have you noticed how much neighboring and neighborhoods have changed over the years? In the past, people used to bring their new neighbors casseroles or baked goods, just to introduce themselves and say, “Hi! Welcome to the neighborhood!” Years ago, neighbors often offered to help with the “move-in” or some other project.

Sometimes they’d stop by for a cup of coffee and some small talk, chatting about current events and asking questions about each other. According to, Neighborhood Etiquette used to include sharing things like tools and garden equipment, so everyone didn’t have to go out and buy expensive items that they didn’t often use.

Neighborhood parties and barbecues are becoming faded memories as people barely know their neighbors anymore. By the way, tomorrow is National Do Something Good for Your Neighbor Day. Let’s get back to being good neighbors!


All forms of good etiquette begin with “The Golden Rule” – treat others as you would like to be treated. We’ve been taught this since we were toddlers in a sandbox. Why does it seem like so many of us tend to forget about that once we age into the double digits?

According to Wikipedia’s analysis of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, Robert Fulghum (the author) “explains how the world would be improved if adults adhered to the same basic rules as children; i.e. sharing, being kind to one another, cleaning up after themselves, and living ‘a balanced life’ of work, play, and learning.” Basic etiquette.


In honor of Saturday, being National Pick Strawberries Day, and May, being National Strawberry Month, PLUS Wednesday, being National Juice Slush Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipes for Strawberry Brutus and Brutus Orange Beverage, as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Second Helping Of Secret Recipes Cookbook – Revised (National Home News, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1978, 4th Printing; p. 17). Remember Brutus? He’s the one who “did in” Julius!



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


May celebrates, among other things… American Cheese Month, National Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Hamburger Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, and National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!



The second full week in May [14th-20th of 2023] also celebrates… National Salvation Army Week and American Craft Beer Week! Additionally, National Bike to Work Week [14th-20th of 2023] is always the week of National Bike to Work Day, which is the 3rd Friday in May [19th for 2023]!

Today is also… National Chocolate Chip Day and National Nylon Stocking Day!

Tomorrow is… National Barbecue Day, National Love a Tree Day, National Mimosa Day, and National Biographer’s Day!

Wednesday, May 17th, is… National Pack Rat Day, National Cherry Cobbler Day, National Walnut Day, and National Idaho Day!

Thursday, May 18th, is… National Visit Your Relatives Day, National No Dirty Dishes Day, and National Cheese Soufflé Day!

May 19th, is… National Devil’s Food Cake Day! Plus, as the 3rd Friday in May (for 2023), it’s also… National Pizza Party Day, National Bike to Work Day, and National NASCAR Day!

May 20th, is… National Be a Millionaire Day, National Rescue Dog Day, and National Quiche Lorraine Day! Plus, as the 3rd Saturday in May(for 2023), it’s also… National Armed Forces Day and National Learn to Swim Day! 

Sunday, May 21st, is… National Waitstaff Day, National Strawberries and Cream Day, and National Memo Day!


…20 down and 32 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Small Business, Big Service

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!




Once again, it’s National Small Business Week! Small Business Saturday is officially the Saturday after Thanksgiving, but I think it should be observed EVERY Saturday – or any day that ends in “y”, for that matter.

First Friday is a special, monthly event that various communities celebrate. It brings small businesses together with arts and entertainment, attracting locals to explore their downtown area more.’s blog, What is First Friday, is an excellent read about what this kind of event does for small local businesses, in their communities.

The SBA describes small businesses simply as having less than 500 employees. And so called “Mom & Pop shops” (which are very small businesses) are key contributors to the American economy, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Small businesses are the backbone of every community, as well as our country as a whole. Most towns also have a Chamber of Commerce, which is another excellent source through which small businesses can network with each other and their community, to better their company.

“Mom & Pop” is a popular expression, used to describe very small, independent, generally family-owned businesses. These “shops” are typically in one location and are operated by a small number of family members, serving their local community. By the way, National Independent Retailer Month is officially observed in July.

I’ve often shared Mom’s story, of how she quit her job at a local newspaper, in the early 1970s, and went home to start her own small business, using her innovative copycat cookery concept for “eating out at home”.

It was in the early 1970s, while writing a food column for a local newspaper, that Mom broke new ground in the food industry, with her “copycat cookery”. While saving on our family budget and answering the similar needs of her readers, she discovered how to imitate America’s favorite fast foods, restaurant dishes, and grocery products right at home!

At first, the editors, where she was working, loved it because the readers loved it. Then a food company, from which Mom imitated a dish, complained to them and threatened to pull their ads (and money) from the paper. Rather than go back to writing old boring recipes and content, Mom decided to launch her own small news and recipes business.

She never really knew what was in the closely guarded secret recipes of the food industry – unless someone shared a recipe with her, which a few did – but Mom did know how to investigate a dish or food product (by look, taste, smell, touch, etc.), figuring out how to make it herself.

For 40 years Mom wrote and, with Dad’s help, self-published more than 40 cookbooks, as well as hundreds of newsletter issues. Over the decades, her recipe catalog grew from a few dozen copycat recipe imitations to a couple hundred to tens of thousands! My sisters and I helped out whenever possible. It was definitely a FAMILY enterprise.

I don’t know a single, small business owner who doesn’t put in a LOT of hours (about 60-80 hours per week). Mom and Dad were no different. On a slow day, they’d have at least 100 letters to open, read, and answer. Besides the occasional TV appearance or media interview, throughout each week Mom also had regular radio interviews scheduled.

When Mom was on a big radio show (syndicated or large area coverage), there’d usually be, soon afterward, thousands of letters to go through and answer. They built up their business (and reputation), by giving their customers great service; being honest, dependable, and quick to respond to their requests.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 70)


LET ME ASSURE YOU, there is no formula for furthering a business like ours. Many people have asked for advice in writing and publishing a cookbook or putting out a newsletter like ours and have seemed so disappointed when I also assure them that I cannot convey to them in a brief letter [or] conversation, what it has taken me nearly 20 years to learn, mostly through experience, through trial and error – sometimes a lot of error!

But it is always a learning experience, as was the case with Thomas Edison when he was trying to invent the dry cell battery. After 200 tests and all failures, somebody else came out with the invention. Reporters asked Edison how he felt about his 200 failures, to which he replied: ‘Those weren’t 200 failures, at all. They were 200 things I found that wouldn’t work!’

Today is also the 32-year anniversary of Mom’s 1991 appearance on the Kelly & Company show (WXYZ-TV, Channel 7, in Detroit). That was her second appearance. The first time was a little more than six months before that, in October 1990. It went so well and they had such a great response from viewers, the producers were compelled to invite her back, again.

By the way, pictured below is the afore mentioned “Butter Crust, Pie Crust (like Baker’s Square)” recipe (in the picture above). It’s a re-share from October 8, 2018. Check out the Recipes tab for more of Mom’s copycat creations that I’ve shared in my blog posts.

‘THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE I know are those who discover that what they should be doing and what they are doing are the same thing!’ – Gloria Pitzer, This is not a Cook Book! It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 19)

For 20 years, starting in 1974, Mom was on many TV and radio talk shows, locally (Detroit/Southeastern Michigan area) as well as nationally and even internationally, promoting her copycat cookery concept, which quickly took the world by storm. As the food industry grew and evolved, so did Mom’s recipe “catalog”.


As seen on page 10 of…

Gloria Pitzer’s Secret Recipes© NewsletterTM

(Secret Recipes©, St. Clair, MI; Jul-Aug 1991, 151st Issue)


ONE THING I’LL SAY for being on TV, people remember you. Sometimes it’s nice. On Mother’s Day, Paul took me to The Edison Inn, in Port Huron, for dinner. A nice looking couple at the next table smiled and nodded. My first thought was [she] was a neighbor or somebody I may have bowled with.

But shortly they came over and introduced themselves and she said she had seen me on television the week before. I was amazed. She said she almost didn’t watch the show that day but the friend she walked with insisted they be back by 9 o’clock because the recipe detective was going to be on Kelly & Co.

So she watched the show, too, and sent [a request] that day for our sample recipes. She was so pleased when she received them back two days later. And this brings up another point – WHY, when we do radio or TV for that matter, Paul and I insist that the mail come to our address.

Whenever it has gone to a station, with the promise to the listeners or viewers that they would forward it on to us, it is weeks later. By that time, the folks who wrote might have forgotten what they wrote for or were holding us responsible for the poor service they received.

Paul insists on good service to our readers on all counts! And it gives us one more job to do if we have to sit down and apologize to dozens [or hundreds or thousands] of people that we received their letters weeks after the offer was made.

Since 1977, the activity of this family enterprise has been our only source of income. My husband, Paul, left his own job of 20 years to devote [his] full time and attention to managing this work; and the precision and honesty with which he carries out each and every business detail has made it the success that it is, believe me!

His official title, he claims, is ‘Chairman of the Broad’ – but I reserve the right to revise his spelling! It is a wonderful business to be in, in spite of the misconception that it’s a job, when really it’s a joy! And I continue to give thanks. My cup runneth over and over!



Additionally, Thursday is National Eat What You Want Day! Not everyone is lucky enough to be able to eat whatever they want. It’s said that necessity is the mother of invention. Thus, in the late 1970s, while dieting, Mom adapted or re-invented some of her recipes to still enjoy, without all the calories. She called it “taking the junk out of junk food.”

In December 1979, Mom launched her first “Diet Secrets” issue of Gloria Pitzer’s Dieter’s Digest. And, when Dad found out he was diabetic, Mom revamped even more of her recipes to accommodate his new, essential low-carb diet.

Mom also invented another new concept with-in her copycat cookery concept. She called it “short-cut cookery”, using 5 ingredients or less to accomplish the same end result as a longer list would achieve but with less work.

For example, Mom discovered that mayonnaise made a great substitute for eggs and oil. Likewise, she found that cake and pudding mixes contained many of the long list of dry ingredients found in things like from-scratch cookies and brownies.

I miss her a lot, especially now, as we approach Mother’s Day! Hug your mom if you can!


In honor of TODAY, being National Have A Coke Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe, for what she called Close-A-Cola; as seen in… Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018, p. 267). [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…


May celebrates, among other things… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month, National Barbecue Month, National Egg Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!

As the first full week in May (for 2023), yesterday began the celebrations of… National Wildflower Week, National Screen-Free Week, National Public Service Recognition Week, and National Pet Week [which is always the 1st Sunday through 2nd Monday of May (7th-15th of 2023)]!

Today is also… National Coconut Cream Pie Day!

Tomorrow is… National Lost Sock Memorial Day, National Moscato Day, National Butterscotch Brownie Day, and National Sleepover Day!

Wednesday, May 10th, is… National Clean Up Your Room Day, National Shrimp Day, and National Washington Day!


Thursday, May 11th, is… National Foam Rolling Day!

Friday, May 12th, is… National Limerick Day and National Nutty Fudge Day!

May 13th, is… National Crouton Day, National Apple Pie Day, and National Fruit Cocktail Day! Plus, as the 2nd Saturday of May (for 2023), it’s also… National Miniature Golf Day & Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day! Additionally, as the Saturday closest to the 10th (for 2023), it’s also… National Train Day!

May 14th, is… National Decency Day and National Buttermilk Biscuit Day! Plus, as the second Sunday in May (for 2023), it’s also… Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms reading this!


Additionally, as the start of the second full week in May (14th-20th of 2023), it’s also… National Salvation Army Week and American Craft Beer Week!


…19 down and 33 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Our Life In Cartoons

Happy May Day! Thank God Its Monday, once again. Thus, I wish a #HappyMonday to everyone, as well. I always look forward to Mondays because they’re my 52 Chances a year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you.



Friday is celebrating, among other things, National Cartoonists Day! Within Mom’s many talents – as a writer, food reviewer, recipe developer, newsletter and book publisher, marketer, and so on – she was also a cartoonist.

In the 1960s and 1970s, before Mom started her copycat recipe business, she drew a series of cartoon panels, which she entitled Full House – As Kept By Gloria Pitzer. They were first published in a couple of local Michigan newspapers, The Roseville Community Enterprise (Roseville, MI) and The Richmond Review (Richmond, MI).

Along with the cartoon panels, Mom also designed her own journalistic columns, mailing out samples to over 300 newspapers. Within a year, she was writing two different columns (“No Laughing Matter” and “Minding the Hearth”), regularly, for 60 papers. Other columns she wrote were titled Pitzer’s Patter, Cookbook Corner, and Food For Thought.


According to, Food-For-Thought is “Learning new information that you never thought was important to think about. It enables you to have a greater intelligence in every aspect of life while feeding your mind.” Similarly, at, Food-for-Thought is “something that should be thought about or considered carefully.”


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 75)

THE CARTOONS (aka: Family Talents)

I DIDN’T ‘DRAW’. I doodled. The rest of my family could draw. My uncle, Earl Klein, is a celebrated artist in Southern California, who has spent most of his professional life with Walt Disney, Hanna-Barbera and other wonderful studios.

His own company, Animation Inc., produced the milk commercials for TV that included, ‘Daddy, there’s a cow in the bedroom!’ Another of Uncle Earl’s commercials was the Faygo commercial, ‘Which way did he go… Which way did he go… He went for FAYGO!’

He even did the Cocoa Wheats commercial with the cuckoo clock. One of my mother’s other brothers, Herb Klein, was also an artist and had his own advertising agency in Detroit for many years.

My [two] younger sisters are both accomplished artists. Paul and I are glad to see even our children are blessed with this artistic gift, as our son, Michael, has gone through the Pasadena Arts Center to become [an] art director for many fine advertising agencies over the years…

Our daughter, Laura… Is just as talented as her brother, but she has had not a smidgen of special training. Her illustrations are currently [at] the ‘Center for Creative Arts’ here in St. Clair and also at the ‘Mortonville Shoppe’ across from the old Morton Salt Company plant in Marysville.

My doodles can hardly fall into a class with either of our children, but they are fun to do and also pleased the family over the years.

Mom didn’t just doodle – she was an illustrator and cartoonist. Like the chicken-and-egg analogy – I’m not sure which came first, as some of my copies of Mom’s cartoons and columns are not dated but they match in subject matter.

Either way, they were both usually inspired by things that happened in/to our family, which Mom thought would be of interest to other working homemakers like herself. “Write what you know” is a commonly known quote from Mark Twain.

Mom’s columns, although in hard copy publications, were much like the web pages or website blogs we have today. In both, the writers express their own opinions, while circulating information (and maybe entertaining the readers), on a regular basis.

Except, obviously back then, they were only typed and printed in hard-copy, through newspapers and magazines. Nowadays, instead, they are electronically posted on the internet. In my own blog posts, I also like to write about various subject matters, just as Mom did, those of which I hope will be of interest to people like us..

There was never a dull moment in our household. As a young, working wife and mother of five kids, Mom found her hectic, yet laughable, family life to be the best subject about which to comedically write AND draw. She was so creative and funny – she could see humor in almost anything.

My mom had a way of taking our family’s everyday life events and turning them into some great “fishing stories”. Speaking of which, that reminds me of a cartoon Mom drew (below) in 1971, based on my love for fishing and my brothers’ irritation of it.


As seen in…

Teach A Child To Fish

Some of my favorite early childhood memories are of fishing with my dad and two brothers. My brothers didn’t very much care for me tagging along, but Dad was happy with my enthusiastic interest in fishing… especially, I think, because I liked to find the worms with which for him to bait our hooks.

We were living in the Algonac-Pearl Beach area (of Michigan), on the beautiful St. Clair River (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway), across from the North Channel (west of Harsens Island) that flows into Lake St. Clair. We fished off the end of our dock often, for whatever was in season – bass, perch, walleye, whitefish, trout, etc.

One day, when I was about 6 or 7 years old, [I was] fishing with my dad and brother, Mike. My line caught something that I just couldn’t pull in by myself. Dad came over to help me. I was very excited that I had caught something, and it was apparently BIG because I couldn’t reel it in by myself!

After a couple minutes of struggling, even with Dad’s help, we finally got it pulled up to the surface of the water, only to find it was an old shoe filled with mud! Dad helped me to [bait and] cast my line out again and I patiently waited for a real bite.

Then, I got a rather strong pull on my line and Dad had to help me reel it in again – this time it was an old coffee can filled with mud! My brother, Mike, got the biggest kick out of that and roared with laughter! [I was determined to not let him discourage me.]

Dad set me back up with a new worm on my hook, to try again on the other side of the dock, hoping I wouldn’t catch another shoe or can of mud. Within MINUTES I had hooked something big and heavy again! Mike teased me that it was another can of mud.

But, as Dad helped me, again, to get the object to the surface, we both saw that it was a HUGE catfish! [It] broke my line as soon as we got it up on the edge of the dock. It flopped back into the water and swam away quickly. So, I do have a [fishing] story about ‘the one that got away’ – but it was real!

Mom was artistically gifted, not just as a cartoonist and writer, but also as a publisher, marketer, illustrator, crafter, homemaker, cook… and the list goes on. She combined all of it together, with a clever and satirical wit. All of these ingredients were uniquely blended to form Mom’s own special recipe for success – as the Secret Recipes DetectiveTM!

Speaking of which, it was during the course of publishing her cartoons and “food-for-thought” columns that Mom discovered a unique, undiscovered niche in the food and recipes industries for which her readers craved – she called it “copycat cookery”. At that time, there was nothing else like it!

Even though the newspapers’ editors and their food industry advertisers didn’t like it and tried to stop her, Mom felt all the more compelled to follow her own path. She faithfully trusted in the direction to which she believed Fate was leading her.


Inspired by some of Mom’s stories and cartoons, I wrote the above parody of our family, from The Brady Bunch theme song: That’s the Way we all Became the Brady Bunch, by songwriters, Frank DeVol and Sherwood Schwartz (© Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC).


In honor of TODAY, being the start of May and National Egg Month, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for Bagel Factory [Style] Challah (aka: Egg Bread); as seen in one of her first self-published cookbooks… The Secret Restaurant Recipes Book (National Homemakers Newsletter, Pearl Beach, MI; Jan. 1977, p. 31).


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


May celebrates, among other things… American Cheese Month, Better Speech and Language Month, National Asparagus Month,  National Barbecue Month, National Get Caught Reading Month, National Hamburger Month, National Inventor’s Month, National Photography Month, National Salad Month, National Salsa Month, National Strawberry Month, and National Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month!



Today is also… National Loyalty Day, National Mother Goose Day, and National Chocolate Parfait Day! Plus, as the 1st Monday in May, today begins Teacher Appreciation Week (1st-5th of 2023)!

Tomorrow is… National Truffle Day! Plus, as Tuesday of the first full business week in May (for 2023), it’s also… National Teacher Appreciation Day!

Wednesday, May 3rd, is… National Garden Meditation Day, National Paranormal Day, National Chocolate Custard Day, National Raspberry Pop Over Day, National Textiles Day, and National Montana Day!

May 4th is… National Star Wars Day, National Weather Observers Day, National Orange Juice Day, National Candied Orange Peel Day, and National Bird Day! Plus, as the first Thursday in May (for 2023), it’s also… National Day of Reason!

Friday, May 5th, is… National Totally Chipotle Day, National Hoagie Day, and Cinco de Mayo!

May 6th is… National Nurses Day, National Beverage Day, and National Crepe Suzette Day! Plus, as the 1st Saturday in May (for 2023), it’s also… Kentucky Derby Day, National Fitness Day, National Scrapbook Day, National Homebrew Day, Join Hands Day, National Start Seeing Monarchs Day, and National Play Outside Day (which is also the 1st Saturday of EVERY month)!

May 7th is… National Packaging Design Day, National Paste-Up Day, and National Roast Leg of Lamb Day! Plus, as the first Sunday in May (for 2023), it’s also… National Lemonade Day!

Additionally, as the start of the first full week in May (7th-13th of 2023), it’s also… National Small Business Week, National Wildflower Week, National Screen-Free Week, National Public Service Recognition Week, and National Pet Week [which is the 1st Sunday through 2nd Monday of May (7th-15th of 2023)]!


…18 down and 34 to go!