Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Crafts Are Happy Escapes

#ThankGodItsMonday! I look forward to all Mondays. They’re my 52 Chances, annually, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with you.



March is coming and celebrating National Craft Month, among other things. I love crafting, as did Mom (and her mom). Crafting turns ordinary things into extraordinary things – like coal bricks into “crystal” gardens, pinecones into wreaths or birdfeeders [February is still Bird Feeding Month], and skeins of yarn into fashionwear or blankets.

Crafts involve skillfully making something, generally with your hands, for a specific function. For as long as I can remember, Mom crafted many things. If I had to pinpoint her favorite craft, overall, I’d pick crocheting; as she did it daily, like her journaling.

Cooking is also considered a craft, which Mom enjoyed daily, as well; until she had a stroke, in 2015. Afterward, she began journaling, again, though not as much as before; however, she never returned to crocheting or cooking. Mom’s 1970s craft for a crystal-like “Coal Garden” is pictured below.

Traditional craftworks include macramé, weaving, sewing, knitting and crocheting. Like everything else, crafting is always evolving, as it also includes cooking and making things like beer/wine, jam, soap, jewelry, pottery, candles, etc.

In fact, the crafty, patchwork-quilt format, in which Mom designed her newsletters and cookbooks, was partly influenced by her favorite crafter and friend, Carol Duvall; who, in the 1970s, wrote a “Craft Letter” (as she called it). She also had a 5-minute crafting show, called “Here’s Carol Duvall”, on WDIV-TV (Channel 4, Detroit).

Mom followed Carol’s show, religiously, and subscribed to her “Craft Letter”. Likewise, Carol subscribed to Mom’s newsletter and they became fast friends. When Carol retired her “Craft Letter”, she offered her subscribers the option of switching to Mom’s newsletter for the same price.

In the mid-1970s, Mom was inspired by their friendship to write a humorous article about crafting, in her syndicated column, called No Laughing Matter. Friday, in honor of National Craft Month, I’m launching a new tab on this website, for Mom’s various crafting skills.

After decades in the Detroit area, Carol moved “up north”, to the Traverse City area, where she hosted another crafting show, on cable. She and Mom remained good friends for decades. When Carol started creating crafts on ABC’s “Home” show (1988-1994), in California, she was key in getting Mom on the show, too – not just once but twice.

Afterward, Carol hosted “The Carol Duvall Show” on HGTV (1994-2005) and, later, moved to DIY (2005-2009). I found a delightful YouTube video of Carol Duvall’s 1000th Episode & Celebration (on HGTV), which I “pinned” to Mom’s “Yarn & Sewing Crafts” board, on her Pinterest page.

Mom used to include in some of her newsletters, throughout the years, crocheting tips and patterns she had developed, for her own fashionwear – vests, sweaters (like her granddaughter’s, pictured above), ponchos, hats, purses, and such – as well as blankets.

She also self-published a folder dedicated to her crocheting tips and patterns, called Granny Square – How To (Fall 1987). Crocheting, like writing in her journals, was Mom’s happy escape – her go-to source for meditation and therapy, her retreat from tension and anxiety; relaxing her, after a long work day.

This is not a Cook Book – It’s Gloria Pitzer’s Food for Thought (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Oct. 1986, p. 7)


THE HAPPIEST LITTLE ESCAPES in our lives can be, to us, what the spout is to a tea kettle that is up to its neck in hot water! It can give us an outlet for letting off steam – in a nice way!

Everyone, who has their own little escape from the harsh realities of everyday life, seems to fare better than those who have absolutely nothing to which to escape. I escape to a good book that will make me smile – or better yet, laugh right out loud, like George Burns has written.

I escape to crocheting and good music, to long walks and long drives in our motor home, with my husband. There are so many lovely little escapes that each of us can choose that it’s a wonder more of us who seem to suffer from unreasonable burdens and false responsibilities, don’t seek out their retreats more often. It helps!


March is unofficially Michigan’s Maple Sugaring Month. It’s not a national holiday but making maple syrup – the process of which is also considered a craft – is a big event around here. Last year, Michigan ranked #5 in U.S. maple syrup production; following Vermont, New York, Maine, and Wisconsin, according to’s 2023 report.

When the day’s highs are in the 40-something-degree range and the nights dip back in the freezing zone, that’s when conditions are best for Michigan’s Maple Syrup Season – usually late-February to mid-April, depending on where you are, in the state.

By the way, I find it odd that December 17th is the official National Maple Syrup DAY, when the sugaring process, for making it, is actually performed around this time of the year. The time to harvest sap spreads across Michigan (south-to-north), in a wave – similar to its various planting zones. No particular area has a really big window for sugaring.

Unfortunately, global warming is shortening the season for sugaring, which is the age-old craft of gathering sap from maple trees and boiling it down into a syrup; or further down, into a crystalized sugar. explains maple syrup vs. maple sugar very well – check it out.

The effect of climate change on the maple syrup season and its average production shows a slight closing of the normal “window of opportunity”. The harvesting window closes when the trees start to bud (and temperatures remain above freezing).

Once the trees bud, the sap turns bitter, which is why this process isn’t repeated in late fall, when weather conditions are similar. Maples need that fall-winter “hibernation” time to rejuvenate their sweet sap.

Over the past five years, since learning about this craft, I’ve also learned how to re-tap maples, season after season; staying away from the previous tap(s), each year. Maples with a 10-to-20-inch (diameter) trunk shouldn’t have more than one tap at a time but a 20-to-25-inch (diameter) trunk can sustain up to two.

Maple trees with a 25-inch (or larger) diameter can handle up to three taps – but no trees should ever have more than that. It takes about 40 years for a maple to grow big enough to tap. In an average season, each tap produces about 10 gallons of sap, which renders about a quart of sweet syrup.

By the way, Michigan’s Maple Weekends are celebrated mid-March to late-April, in different regions of the state. On these weekends, you’ll find a delightful array of maple syrup festivals, celebrating the age-old sugaring craft.

For more about the maple syrup season in Michigan, check out Baihley Gentry’s timeless article (March 23, 2015) at, called It’s Maple Syrup Month in Michigan. There’s so much to love about Michigan!

The Secrets of Homemade Groceries (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Sep. 1979, p. 1)


MANY PEOPLE FEEL THAT life is uphill all the way. They fail to look at the things that are good, enjoyable, and worthwhile. They are conscience only of the climb. No road is ever uphill forever! We should soon learn the importance of being able to also come downhill without fear and be able to notice the scenery along the road, too.

Going through life without noticing the scenery and trying to see some of the beauty that is there – waiting to be recognized – reminds me of running helter-skelter up and down the supermarket aisles without seeing the ABUNDANCE that is there.

Just take a moment to look at the heart-breaking plight of starving people in many parts of the world and, then, take a good look at the aisles and aisles of food available in this country!

We have so much available to us here…many people fill their backyards each spring with flowers and shrubs, when they could easily plant food-seeds instead, thus cutting something off that weekly grocery bill!

For the past five years, I’ve enjoyed resharing the following video link, Backyard Maple Syrup, With Jill-of-all-Trades (March 26, 2019); regarding how to make a small amount of syrup with a slow cooker, as reported by Jill Washburn, a meteorologist on Fox 2 News, in Detroit.

It’s an impressive segment, detailing how easy the sugaring process can be; from collecting the sap to cooking it down, in a small batch (about 2 gallons) for a day or so, in a slow cooker, until it renders about a half-cup or so of sweet, thick syrup.


Since one tap produces almost 10 gallons of sap, you can repeat the crock pot method several times or use multiple crock pots at one time, to make more. One crock-pot-batch isn’t a lot but it’ll do for a small breakfast – and the feeling of accomplishment, in saying, “I made it, myself,” is priceless!

By the way, it’s still National Hot Breakfast Month for a few more days. Celebrate the transition of February to March with a stack of pancakes, soaked in homemade maple syrup. Here (pictured above) are two re-shares of Mom’s Pancake House imitations for griddlecakes and syrup, from her “Original 200” collection.

Crafting produces rewarding feelings of self-accomplishment, achievement, and success. Those, in turn, can reduce anxiety, promote mindfulness, improve mood, and increase happiness. That’s what makes crafts (and cooking) happy AND healthy escapes.

Friday, in honor of National Craft Month, I’m launching a new tab for Mom’s “Crafts”; to which I’ll post monthly, on the 1st, honoring her various crafting skills and accomplishments, outside of her copycat recipes repertoire.

I may post more often than that (including some of my own crafts, which Mom influenced), depending on national, day/week/month, craft-related observations (i.e. National Quilting Day, March 16th).

It’ll start with Mom’s entertaining article, which I mentioned earlier; from her freelance years, regarding crafting and her friend, Carol Duvall. I’ll also include her “Coal Garden” (shared above) and “Homemade Finger Paints” (shared last March).


In honor of National Bake for Family Fun Month, here’s Mom’s imitation of “Bill Knapp’s Chocolate Cake & Frosting”; as seen in her self-published Secret RecipesTM Bulletin© #106 – Imitations of Bill Knapp Favorites (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; 2003, p. 1).


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


February observes, among other things… National Fasting February, Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Cherry Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Library Lover’s Month, and National Snack Food Month.

Today is also… National Pistachio Day and National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.

Tomorrow is… National Strawberry Day and National Retro Day. In honor of the latter, celebrate with Mom’s last book, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective (Balboa Press; Jan. 2018) – a revised reprint of her self-published cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Edition).



Wednesday, February 28th, is… National Chocolate Souffle Day.

February 29th is the last Thursday of the month (for 2024), as such, it’s also… National Toast Day.

Friday begins March, which observes, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Celery Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month, and National Women’s History Month.

March 1st is also… National Dadgum That’s Good Day, National Fruit Compote Day, National Minnesota Day, National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, National Pig Day, and World Compliment Day. Plus, for 2024, it’s also… National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day), which is usually on March 2nd but, since it fell on the weekend this year, it’s moved to the closest school day.

March 2nd is… National Banana Cream Pie Day and National Old Stuff Day. Plus, as the first Saturday of the month, it’s also… National Play Outside Day (for 2024), which is the first Saturday of every month.

March 3rd is… National Cold Cuts Day, National I Want You to Be Happy Day, National Mulled Wine Day, and Soup It Forward Day.


…9 down, 43 to go!

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