Mondays & Memories of My Mom – It’s Your Story, Run With It

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!




Tomorrow observes, among other things, National Write Down Your Story Day and Sunday is National Let’s Laugh Day! For many years, before Mom began her Secret RecipesTM business, she wrote satirical columns for various papers. Mom’s stories about how she delt with various situations, in our family and at work, always make me laugh.

Mom wrote down her story, often, in all of her self-published books and newsletters. Most notably, she wrote her (and our family’s) story in her self-published book, My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989), from which I often reference her anecdotes (aka: “MOM’S MEMORIES”).

Mom’s stories, about her dealings with our family’s humorous life-happenings, often blended facts with a little fabrication – just enough to entice a laugh. She was a talented writer. As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, she was greatly inspired, throughout her life, by many talented and funny women like Carol Burnette and Erma Bombeck, just to name a couple.


March is also National Craft Month. Writing a story/book can be considered a craft (an activity involving skill in making things by hand). Like Mom, since I was a young girl, I’ve always loved writing, drawing, and crafting things. Creativity was always encouraged and nurtured by our parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles – whenever I or my siblings crafted anything. I’ve written enough poetry to produce a book or two but I’ve yet to try to publish them.

In my blog posts, I’ve often written about how Mom inspired me – as a writer, artist, crafter, homemaker, cook, mother… The list goes on. A variety of artistic and creative skills seem to run in my family. If there is such a thing as an “artistic gene”, I feel lucky and grateful that my family and I seem fortunate to have it.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over And I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, pp. 25-28)


WHEN I WROTE THAT very first poem that the Detroit News published when I was in the fourth or fifth grade at the US Grant School in Royal Oak, I was headed toward this livelihood and didn’t even know it.

When I wrote “The Young Pioneer” that same year with the girls who lived on the block, after we saw the movie about the life of the Brontë sisters, I was being directed towards this livelihood… Each was a little step in the right direction, in the direction toward which our entire family would come, and gratefully so.

The beginning of my interest in writing seriously began with the poem – a class assignment – and no one could’ve been more surprised than me to find it published in the newspaper… I remember that it was [after] the war ended… World War II. Every Saturday, the kids on the block would walk up town to the main theater where, for 11-cents, we could see a double feature, cartoons and a cliffhanger serial.

The movie that made the biggest impression on me and really started my emotional batteries to move me into writing, was the story of the Brontë sisters [Devotion (Warner Bros. Pictures, 1946)] – Anne, Charlotte and Emily Jane. One of them [Charlotte] wrote ‘Jane Eyre’ and [Emily] wrote the classic novel, ‘Wuthering Heights’.

They wrote without the benefit of a typewriter, which made an impression on me then. So, on the way home from the movie, I coaxed my friends into stopping with me at the dime store so I could buy a pack of notebook paper and a pair of long, heavy shoelaces.

I was going to fashion these into a manuscript like the Brontë sisters used in the movie. Ordinarily, we would’ve gone to the Royal Oak Sweet Shop on Main Street near Fourth for a soda or some Divinity or fudge to nibble on, but I was saving my quarter for writing paper.

It is good, sometimes, in looking back at how far we have come from the first steps that were to lead us into a bright direction… In our office, I have a file drawer that is full of newspaper clippings that have been written about us and our recipes. These go back to 1974…

Before I ever wrote the ‘Secret Recipes Book’ [in 1976], I [had] assembled a small volume of American dishes to celebrate the bicentennial. Several copies of that little book, ‘The American Cookery Cookbook’, were purchased by the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village in Dearborn [Michigan].

A curious young reporter, who was going through the Museum’s collection of new books, came across mine. He tried to purchase a copy, he later told me, by contacting every bookstore in the area. No one had even heard of me. I was not even listed in the ‘books in print’ directory.

So he returned to the museum and copy down the address from the cover of my book, looked us up in the phone directory and gave us a call. Once Dan Martin of Newsday Wire Service Features saw what the production of our monthly newsletter was like, he lost interest in that little bicentennial cookbook.

When he knocked on the door, that day, it was like inviting him into a Jean Kerr production of ‘Please Don’t Eat the Daisies’. There were a dozen baskets of ironing here and there in the large dining room, each [one] tagged with the name, phone number and date promise to the customer who left [it] with me to be ironed.

Two long tables under the windows were covered with freshly mimeographed 4” x 6” cards of recipes, spread out for the ink to dry. Several times a week, I printed up to 200 recipes and about 50 copies of each. At that time, we sold these through our newsletter for five-for-a-dollar or $.25 apiece. We did very well with them too!

In the living room, Debbie’s friends had gathered with their drivers’ training manuals to quiz each other for the big day coming up when those six teenagers would be taking their driving tests. In the kitchen, Cheryl and Lorie were working on Girl Scout badge projects with some of their friends. It was a madhouse!

Mr. Pipersack was shuffling in and out of the side porch door, trying to unplug the bathroom pipes and clean out the septic tank for us. In the back room, where the prehistoric furnace was located that heated our 80-year-old house.

A man from the gas company was arguing with a man from the Edison company about what was wrong with our furnace and why it wouldn’t work. They finally asked me if my husband owned a screwdriver. I told them, ‘of course!’ They looked at each other and then looked at me, then one of them said, ‘hide it!’

Our oldest son, Bill, was hunting through the kitchen drawers for some tools at that moment, so that he could get under the hood of his mustang out in the driveway and then let Mr. Pipersack pull his truck into the yard. Mike, our next oldest, was on the phone trying to convince a girl that the things she had heard about him weren’t true and if he could get his dad’s car on Saturday, would she go to the movies with them.

The cat was having a litter of kittens under the sewing table and our police dog, Susie, was about to have a litter of pups and was moping about, looking for comfort. I now wonder how any serious writer could have found inspiration in that kind of environment.

I almost wish we had given the impression that we were like the Brady Bunch so that the article the reporter was going to write, would have reflected better on our being normal and average; but frankly, I think I like the Brady Bunch because we could all learn so much from their faultless fantasies about family life.

One of my earliest memories of me & my mom is when she taught me how to write the alphabet and my name, from how to hold the pencil and draw the letters, to putting those wonderful letters together into words. I grew to love writing and crafting, mostly because of Mom. English and art were two of my most favorite subjects throughout school.

I was always amazed and inspired by how Mom managed to work at the newspaper and start her own business, doing what she loved most (writing), while juggling all of her other responsibilities; with a husband, 5 kids, and a dog for which to care. We were a dysfunctional, “real life” version of the Brady family.


There’s no better time than now to write your story down. Leave your legacy in a memoir. Capture the essence of who you are. Include your traditions, life-lessons, values, special moments, accomplishments, beliefs and hopes. Share your favorite pictures, too. It’s your story, run with it!

Turn it into a printed book – size doesn’t matter. There’s a lot of options online for “print on demand” companies. Your local printer can probably do it, too. Believe it or not, your story can be a great, personalized gift for family (and close friends) on any holiday or special occasion.


In honor of Saturday, being National Sloppy Joe Day, here’s Mom’s copycat recipe for a Slow Cooker version of “Manwich [Style] Sloppy Joe Mix”; as seen in her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 33).


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 Celery Month, National Flour Month, National Sauce Month, and National Women’s History Month!



March is unofficially Maple Sugaring Month in Michigan! It’s not a national holiday but making maple syrup is a big event around here! There’s a really great article about sugaring [which is the process of gathering maple sap and making it into sugar and/or syrupNOT the hair-removal process by the same name] at the Michigan State University’s Extension’s website, called March is Maple Syrup Season in Michigan.

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

This week is also celebrating… National Girl Scout Week.

Today is additionally… National Good Samaritan Day, National Coconut Torte Day, and National Open an Umbrella Indoors Day! Plus, as the day after Daylight Savings Time Day (for 2023), it’s also… National Napping Day!

Tomorrow is… National Children’s Craft Day (plus, it’s National Craft Month), National Learn About Butterflies Day, and National Potato Chip Day! In honor of the first aforementioned, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for Homemade Finger Paints, from her self-published cookbook, The Original 200 Plus Secret Recipes© Book (Secret RecipesTM, Marysville, MI; June 1997, p. 44).



Wednesday, March 15th is… American Legion Birthday, National Everything You Think is Wrong Day, National Kansas Day, and National Pears Helene Day!

Thursday, March 16th is… National Artichoke Hearts Day, Everything You Do Is Right Day, and National Freedom of Information Day!

Friday, March 17th is… National Corned Beef and Cabbage Day and St. Patrick’s Day!

March 18th is… National Awkward Moments Day and National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day! Additionally, as the third Saturday in March (for 2023), it’s also… National Quilting Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of “March Madness” (March 12th-April 3rd for 2023), it’s also… National Corn Dog Day!

Sunday March 19th is… National Chocolate Caramel Day and National Poultry Day! [NOTE: Mar. 19, 1991, is also the anniversary of Mom’s second appearance on The Home Show (Los Angeles; ABC-TV), with Carol Duvall.]


…11 down and 41 to go!

Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Moms Are Inspirations

Happy Monday, once again, and happy March Eve! I love Mondays! They’re my 52 Chances, every year, in which I get to share Memories of My Mom with all of you!



March (2022) and National Women’s History Month starts tomorrow! There are so many famous women to recognize world-wide – Amelia Earhart, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, Madam Curie, Rosa Parks, Margaret Sanger, Princess Diana, Sandra Day O’Connor, Eleanor Roosevelt, “Rosie the Riveter”, Maya Angelou – the list goes on!

I want to include “moms”! I’ve been writing every week about my mom’s own amazing history, of being “The Recipe Detective”. Mom created the copycat cookery concept about 50 years ago, in the early 1970s – imitating fast foods, restaurant dishes, and grocery products at home.

Most of what Mom knew in the kitchen, when she first started what became her “Secret RecipesTM” business, she had initially learned from, both, her mom and mother-in-law. I think, in most families, the moms are probably the greatest sources of inspiration.

Let me tell you about the women who inspired my mom (and me)! Mom’s mom, Esther (Klein) Carter, “Grandma Carter” to me, taught her many cooking, baking, and presentation techniques. Pies were Grandma’s specialty, as well as, crafting skills (like sewing, knitting, crocheting, cross-stitching, etc.).

I don’t know much about Grandma Carter’s mom. Grandma’s family had immigrated to the Ohio/Pennsylvania area from Prussia when she was small. Her mom died after her youngest brother, Earl, was born. Grandma’s dad struggled with trying to raise them all by himself and find work, too.

Grandma and her seven siblings were then raised in a Catholic orphanage, even though they were Jewish, because there weren’t any places, at the time, that could/would take them. The nuns made sure the children stayed together (until they aged-out) and went to the synagogue down the road every week, for the Sabbath.

After starting to work as my Grandpa Carter’s secretary [circ. 1934], in his real estate business, they fell in love and married a few years later. Grandma became a member of Grandpa’s church (the Church of Christian Science). She also got her own real estate license, in spite of the male-dominated profession.

Grandma retired from realty when she was about 74 years old. However, she couldn’t be idol. She stayed involved in her church (becoming a Reader and a Practitioner). She volunteered in local civic organizations and sold her crafts. She also put together her own recipe folder/collection, to sell by mail-order, with a little of Mom’s help.

Below are some articles that Mom had saved over the years from the Royal Oak area’s “Daily Tribune” about my grandma, the first of which includes Grandma’s own secret recipe for Veal Olympic.


As seen in…

My Cup Runneth Over and I Can’t Find My Mop (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Dec. 1989, p. 106)


MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME early-on that the best things in life aren’t things! I have tried to pass this on to my children as well. Feelings and thoughts and expressions of caring are more important to me, and I am not one bit surprised to learn from many of our newsletter readers, that they feel the same. We must remember to remove price tags from people. Everyone has worth; the excitement lies in the discovery of their value!


The quests for the loaves and fishes’, however, gives us a false sense of what is of value, and this is the notion that I’ve tried to convey in my writings. In spite of the real value of the intangible things in life, I do still have a few favorite things. These are simple belongings with no redeemable value to anyone but me.

There is, for instance, a set of all five of Elsie Masterton’s cookbooks from her Blueberry Hill Farm series of the 1950s. There is a cross in a crown on a necklace chain that I fashioned for myself out of an Avon tie tack [of a] crown and a drugstore crucifix, plus some Super Glue. I really enjoy wearing it. Wearing it reminds me to find a feeling of oneness with my Source, first thing every day.

On the wall of our bedroom, there is a picture frame containing photos of each of our five children taken a few minutes after each was born. On a shelf, in the kitchen, is a cookie tin that bears the picture of Wally Amos (Famous Amos of chocolate chip cookie fame), which he personally presented to me in February 1988, when he surprised me during the televised filming of the ‘Home’ show in Hollywood, with Rob Weller as host.

A letter from Pres. Ford, thanking me for the moral support I gave him after his first televised press conference, and the cookbook I had sent him, is another small treasure among my ‘things’. There is also a framed citation from WXYZ-Radio for having given an outstanding broadcast with them during the Republican Convention in Detroit.

The silver ice bucket that our five children presented to Paul and me on our 25th wedding anniversary [June 1981] is but another favorite ‘thing’. Wealth does not equal worth and so the amount of money we could have earned, but turned down instead, as a result of keeping our publication at home, is not as important as the work itself.

My dad’s mom, Anise Knotts Pitzer, “Grandma Pitzer” to me, taught Mom about gardening and canning; plus, how to make her own grocery products at home, to save money. All of which Grandma learned from her own mom. Grandma Pitzer grew some great, prize-winning tomatoes! Mom learned a lot from her.

That’s when Mom and Dad lived with Dad’s parents, for a short time, right after they got married. Years later, Mom wrote a prize-winning story, about living with in-laws, for a magazine contest. In fact, Mom wrote many inspiring stories about Grandma and her mom’s West Virginia, backdoor bakery. I’ve shared some of her stories in a few previous blog posts, including Heirlooms (June 8, 2020).


This is the last day of February (2022), for observing the month’s national celebrations, such as… National Fasting February, An Affair to Remember Month, Black History Month, National Canned Food Month, National Creative Romance Month, National Great American Pies Month, National Bake for Family Fun Month, National Bird Feeding Month, National Grapefruit Month, National Hot Breakfast Month, National Library Lover’s Month, National Snack Food Month, and National Weddings Month! Do something special – learn something new!


In honor of tomorrow, being National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day, here’s Mom’s secret recipe for homemade, sugar-free Peanut Butter (with a maple option); as seen in her self-published cookbook, Sugar-Free Recipes (Secret RecipesTM, St. Clair, MI; Nov. 1987, p. 47).


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


Today, February 28th is… National Chocolate Souffle Day and National Floral Design Day! Plus, as the last Monday of February, it’s also the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week!

Tomorrow, March 1st is… National Dadgum That’s Good Day, National Fruit Compote Day, National Minnesota Day, and National Pig Day! Plus, as the day before Ash Wednesday (2022), it’s also… Fat Tuesday (aka: Mardi Gras), Paczki Day, Fastnacht Day, and National Pancake Day (per IHOP)!

March also observes, among other things… Irish-American Heritage Month, National Caffeine Awareness Month, National Celery Month, National Craft Month, National Flour Month and National Sauce Month!

March 2nd is… National Banana Cream Pie Day and, National Old Stuff Day! Plus, it’s… National Read Across America Day (Dr. Seuss Day) [NOTE: If the 2nd falls on a Saturday or Sunday, this celebration moves to the closest school day.] Additionally, (for 2022) it’s also… Ash Wednesday! This year, the season of Lent runs through Thursday, April 14th.

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

March 4th is… National Grammar Day, National Pound Cake Day, and National Sons Day! Plus, as the first Friday in March (for 2022), it’s also… National Day of Unplugging, National Dress in Blue Day, National Speech and Debate Education Day, and National Employee Appreciation Day! 

March 5th is… National Cheese Doodle Day! Plus, as the first Saturday of the month (for 2022), it’s also… National Play Outside Day!

Sunday, March 6th is… National Frozen Food Day, National White Chocolate Cheesecake Day, and National Oreo Cookie Day! In honor of the latter, here’s a re-share of Mom’s Oreo imitation, which she called Gloreos!

Plus, National Procrastination Week is the first two weeks in March, which is either the 1st-14th or (for the first two FULL weeks) the 6th-19th! Basically, you can put this observance off until whenever it’s convenient for you! Other week-long observances, starting on the 6th, include… National Read an E-Book Week, National Words Matter Week, International Women’s Week, and Girl Scout Week!



…9 down and 43 to go!