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.

#NationalCleaningWeek

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 NationalDayCalendar.com 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

HowStuffWorks.com 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!”

FROM MOM’S MEMORIES…

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.

BEFORE GOING TO THE EXPENSE OF REDECORATING YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE: Move!

TO PREVENT SCRUB WATER FROM RUNNING DOWN YOUR ARMS WHILE WASHING WALLS: Hang from your feet!

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!

#CornedBeefAndCabbageDay

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 

NationalDayCalendar.com 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 https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062252; it’s also available in eBook form, for $3.99, at https://www.balboapress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001062253

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Spring into Cleaning

Hello, again, and happy Monday to everyone! Spring has finally arrived! However, in Michigan, other than a sporadic tease here and there, it doesn’t actually feel like Spring is here until closer to May. Nonetheless, it’s a light in the dark that gives us hope for tomorrow!

If you’re new to here – I am Laura Emerich and these blogs are dedicated to and inspired by my mom, Gloria Pitzer, the private investigator of “Secret Recipes”TM (aka the ORIGINAL “Recipe Detective”TM). I want to carry on her amazing legacy, which is why I titled my first blog in this series “A Legacy of Love” (9/17/2018). That is what “Secret Recipes” TM always was to Mom – and that’s what it became to me over the last few years of her life while I collaborated with her to re-write her favorite self-published cookbook, The Better Cookery Cookbook; which was published by Balboa Press in January 2018, with a slightly different title (more information on that at the end of this blog), for a new generation of foodies!

I made a living with my writing; but, it was my writing that made living worthwhile. – Gloria Pitzer

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, during her 60-year-plus writing career, Mom wrote and syndicated thousands of columns – some under the copyright heading, “No Laugh’N Matter” – across the country and for local newspapers. In the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s, Mom also designed satirical cartoon panels titled “Full House as Kept by Gloria Pitzer”©, based on her own comedic, family experiences. A few are pictured below. However, I can’t find the dates of when these were illustrated or when they were published. The two on the left are older than the one on the right. The newspaper editorials she wrote and syndicated were much like blogs are today. Except, they were printed in hard-copy newspapers and magazines instead of on the World Wide Web.

I also mentioned in last week’s blog that I wanted to discuss cleaning, this week, since it’s the beginning of Spring AND National Cleaning Week – hence, my choices of Mom’s cartoon panels to share with you. As well, I wanted share some more special memories of Mom, in relation to cleaning. Mind you, Mom was not a fan of cleaning at all, even if it did have calorie-burning benefits! But, by no means, did we ever really live in a dirty home! As in stand up comedy, Mom often stretched and twisted reality a little bit to generate a laugh.

Gloria Pitzer – 1974

Mom was brought up in a generation that just did what they “had to”; keeping a clean or tidy home was just something that they’re parents taught them to do as responsible, civilized people – at any age. So, in honor of National Cleaning Week, plus Mom’s writing and comedic legacy, here is one of her old No Laugh’N Matter columns that she syndicated, called “Eat Your Heart Out Mr. Clean!” (as seen in The Times Herald, Port Huron, Michigan; Feb 14, 1974).

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.

If the good Lord had intended for me to have a clean house, He would have given me a maid! – Gloria Pitzer

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.

BEFORE GOING TO THE EXPENSE OF REDECORATING YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE: Move!

TO PREVENT SCRUB WATER FROM RUNNING DOWN YOUR ARMS WHILE WASHING WALLS: Hang from your feet!

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!

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!

One sort of recent memory I have of Mom, regarding cleaning, is from shortly after her stroke in 2015. Mom had to go through a lot of different therapies, including physical and occupational therapies. One of her therapists called me one day, very concerned about Mom’s sudden dislike of her since they seemed to get along so beautifully during her first couple of visits. I met her at Mom’s place during her next scheduled visit to see just what she was describing to me.

Gloria Pitzer, 2013

The therapist went through everything she did during the previous visit. It all seemed to be going fine, at first; thus, I was beginning to think that either she misinterpreted Mom’s reactions to her, or it wasn’t happening on that day because I was there. Then, after having Mom do some simple stretches, the therapist asked Mom to make her bed as one of her daily exercises. Just then, in an instant, Mom’s mood changed from “sunny-and-75” to “stormy-and-below-freezing”! Right away, I started laughing out loud! The therapist and Mom, both, looked at me rather strangely. I guess it was an inside joke.

Mom hated cleaning – well, “hate” is a strong word; let’s say she “clearly disliked” it. I’m not saying she didn’t do it; but, that never meant she had to like it! In fact, I think making the bed was at the top of her “torture” list. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at the situation, as did the therapist when I explained it! Not everyone get’s a joy out of cooking and cleaning any more than they have to – thus, the subject inspired the parody title of one of Mom’s cookbooks, The Joy of NOT Cooking…Any More than You Have To (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1983).

I, on the other hand, like to clean – and, especially, to organize! I don’t know why – it’s some OCD thing I have – but organizing is more like a favorite hobby to me. When it came to her desk, Mom preferred what she called an organized mess, as in her illustration above. My own kids and husband like to tease me that I’m not OCD but, rather, CDO because I prefer things in alphabetical (and numerical) order.

#NationalCleaningWeek

 When I heard that this is National Cleaning Week, I actually got a little giddy at the thought of flipping the bedroom mattress; as well as, rotating the seasonal clothes and living room furniture – just some of the things I usually do in the Spring and Fall seasons. I know I’m weird – and that’s okay!

According to NationalDayCalendar.com, “besides a clean home, it’s a week that can produce improved moods, decreased stress levels, and increased creativity. It’s a week to put away winter essentials and tidy up our homes to usher in a fresh start with spring.” Furthermore, it also declares that “the American Cleaning Institute says, on average, Americans spend approximately six hours per week cleaning their homes.” As well, “our most dreaded of cleaning tasks [are]: cleaning the bathroom (52%), kitchen cleaning (23%), dusting (21%), mopping (20%) and doing the laundry (17%). Sorry, Mom – making the bed did not make it onto this list! However, dusting is the least favorite for me (mostly because it impacts my allergies more than anything else.)

20 Everyday Activities and the Calories They Burn by the Editors of Publications International, Ltd. (as seen on HowStuffWorks.com) says that 30 minutes spent on dusting burns 80 calories and 30 minutes of mopping burns 153 calories. As for laundry day, 30 minutes of folding clothes burns 72 calories and ironing for 30 minutes burns 76.5 calories.

Among other housework activities, the article also claims that 1 hour of moving furniture burns 504 calories, 10 minutes of sweeping a broom back and forth burns 28 calories and 20 minutes of vacuuming burns 56 calories. Even 30 minutes of preparing dinner burns 74 calories and, obviously, you should make healthy meal choices too.

Additionally, outside the house, the article claims that pushing the lawn mower for 1 hour can burn 324 calories… and spending an added 30 minutes raking up the clippings will burn another 171 calories. The article also suggests that picking up yard-waste can, correspondingly, reduce your waist size. Furthermore, it advocates that, by spending 4 hours of hard-work cleaning up the neighborhood, you’ll burn 1,800 calories AND improve your community! What a great idea! Plus, 2 hours of gardening burns about 648 calories or more and you can grow some nice, healthy vegetables at the same time. If you don’t have your own garden, or room for one, you can check around your area for a community garden?

If you live in a state like Michigan, where it snows at least half of the year, you may be interested to know that 30 minutes of shoveling snow burns 202.5 calories. Also, now that it’s Spring and weather is starting to improve, 20 minutes of hand-washing the car will burn 102 calories.

To observe National Cleaning Week, NationalDayCalendar.com also suggests, “to make cleaning week less intimidating: Tackle one room at a time, start from the top and work down; dusting ceiling fans, door moldings and window tops. Don’t be afraid to move furniture…” And, on social media, it asks that you “use #NationalCleaningWeek and #CleaningWeek to follow and share your cleaning tips.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog and will return again next week when I discuss more about gardening, as it will be the start of National Garden Month! In closing, as I do each week, I’d like to leave you with one of the recipes that Mom developed and gave out for free on her “product-ordering/information sheets”. Mom used the following TGIF-Style, Jack Daniel’s sauce imitation when she wanted to make chicken or steak with a little kick. The version pictured below is from Mom’s “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000), asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

This particular sauce is not in Mom’s last cookbook, Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective ( Balboa Press; January 2018) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook (Secret Recipes, St. Clair, MI; May 1983, 3rd Printing).  However, there is a large section filled with other great “Soups, Sauces and Side-Dishes” to tantalize, tease and tempt your taste buds. This cookbook (also available in eBook form) has 318 pages filled with over 500 of Mom’s best recipes, Food-for-Thought articles, inspirational stories, household/cooking tips and tricks, witty jokes, illustrations and historical information on some of the great companies whose dishes and products that she famously imitated at home!