Friday, February 16, 2018

February Heart Stuff: Five On Friday

Photo: Brigitte Tohm |

Happy Valentine's Day to you! ♥ I know the actual date has come and gone, but perhaps there are more of us who like to celebrate it all month long. Valentine's Day has often focused on it being an occasion just for sweethearts, but surely love is shared by a much larger pocket of people than just couples or lovers. So, today I'm celebrating love in all its aspects... as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, cousins, aunties and uncles, best friends, college friends, casual friends, colleagues, not to mention our furry family friends, our kitties and doggies, who add so much love to our world.

Even though Amy from Love Made My Home no longer hosts Five on Fridays, I still like to use this format as a way to gather my moments and share some of them with you. Here, then, are my Friday five for today:


Around the house... Things have been piling up in the corners again. Such a slow process one hardly notices it until it's a bit of a mess. More than a couple of years ago now, I did a complete detailing of our house. Top to bottom. It took several weeks of persistent working away at cleaning out every drawer, cupboard, dresser, shelf, and closet in every room, including the basement and storage area. Sorting, putting things back where they belonged, discarding junk, and giving away stuff that was still good. When I was finished, every single thing had a home, and with that came such a freeing and satisfying feeling. I knew where everything belonged, and if it wasn't there, I now knew there was no chance it might be lurking anywhere else.

I'm proud to say, it stayed that way for a long time. I kept on top of myself to put things away and to keep the clutter down to zero. As I say, it stayed that way for months, but then I began to notice a gradual, almost imperceptible, slipping back into not staying on top of things on a daily basis. The top of my dresser, which I carefully cleared each evening of dropped earrings, buttons, receipts heading for the file or garbage, was displaying a small assorted pile of stuff on the side. Looking around, I realized my spare bedroom had a similar thing going on atop the bed and dresser, a sure sign that things were starting to unravel elsewhere in my house.

I must admit, I have a continual tug-o-war between my two selves: one side of me loves holding onto memorabilia and trinkets and lots of paper ... and the other side is a minimalist who yearns to be free from the claptrap and clutter and my 'need' for so many material possessions. Maybe ancestry experts would find my DNA roots are lodged in the Victorian era (they certainly were masters at clutter) as well as the Japanese culture (true masters at clean, clear spaces). For me, the challenge is finding a balance that makes both selves reasonably happy (one in her trinket-y clutter and one in her cleared away space).

Some time ago, Susan Branch wrote a post I found enjoyable and inspiring. After her very busy life of writing several books, creating new projects, travelling to see family and going on a several-week book tour, she tells of how her studio ended up as a complete disaster area and of how she was slowly putting it all to rights again. Her story inspired me to begin my own slow but steady process of dealing with the extraneous and making every room in my own house all nice again. Here is Susan's delightfully honest post, just in case you need her inspiration. 


In the kitchen... I have a lovely recipe for Sour Cream Lemon Pie. I found it years ago on a recipe card tucked inside a magazine long tossed out. I don't make it often, although I don't know why not, as it continues to be a hit whenever I do. The lemon filling and the almond flavouring in the whipping cream creates an amazing combination ... causing your mouth to 'zing and sing' as you take that first bite and s-a-v-o-u-r it.

In case you're looking for something wonderful to set before your loved ones this weekend, you might want to give this a try.


1 baked 9-inch pie shell

3/4 cup white sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp grated lemon peel
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup light cream
1/4 cup butter
1 cup sour cream

In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, cornstarch, flour, lemon peel, lemon juice, and light cream. Bring to boil slowly, whisking constantly. Add butter and cook until thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and cool. Gently stir in sour cream and pour filling into baked pie shell. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to serve.


1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp almond extract
Grated lemon peel
Lemon slices, to garnish, if desired

Whip cream and fold in sugar, sour cream, and almond extract. Spoon over the lemon filling. Sprinkle with grated lemon peel and garnish with lemon slices. Makes 6 to 8 servings

*Alternate 'lighter' version: The topping makes quite a bit, so if you really don't want all that whipped cream, cut the recipe in half and add a dollop on top of a slice or on the side.


A favourite quote for today... This quote is from a letter written by E.B. White to the children in Troy, Michigan, in which he explains the benefits of visiting a library.

“A library is a good place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book, you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided, for there, in a book, you may have your question answered. Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for books are people—people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book.”

Another E.B. White saying: “Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.” And at the end of some days, that's just about all you can do, isn't it?

Photo: Josh Felise |

How we first met. Because it's Valentine's Day week, and because many of us love to hear about each other's love stories, I thought you might like to know how my sweetheart and I first met. It's a long time ago now and those sweet, shimmering memories are a little like unwrapping cherished family heirlooms ... which, in truth, is what they are.

Where did you first meet? In a garden. It was late afternoon on a warm, sunny September day. I had gone off to work as usual in the morning, but Jean, my housemate and best friend, really, more my sister, was on her way to begin the Master Gardener's program with the University of Alberta. A friend offered to drive her out to the Devonian Botanic Gardens where the course was being held. The plan was that I would pick her up after work; she would give me a phone call to arrange a ride when her class was done. I waited all afternoon but never heard from her (this was long before texting and cell phones), so I came home from work, all the while wondering about Jean. As I got out of the car, I heard voices in the backyard, and so I opened the garden gate and walked around the corner into our pretty little garden. Jean was showing someone around--a man I'd never met before. It turns out it was a fellow also taking the course, and somewhere in the day, he offered Jean a ride home since he happened to drive past our house to his place.

What did you first notice about him? He was someone I felt comfortable with immediately. His manner was amiable and thoughtful. He had a ready laugh. Because it was such a nice day, maybe he had his shirt sleeves rolled up, something I always loved to see on a man. Now, this might not have been the very first time we met, but I did notice at some point that he was not so tall that I would have to stand on my tiptoes to kiss or hug him (but surely we weren't thinking about that right off the bat... I don't think... no no).

Was it love at first sight? No. As romantic as I used to be, a young woman thinking that falling madly, crazily in love at first sight would be, sigh, oh so romantic, I was by then a woman deep into her 30's and not as prone to thinking 'possible partner' as soon as I met a man. I had grown some sense and realized that falling in love at first sight can make for a lousy way to know if one has met the right person or not (at least for me); it can cloud one's ability to see straight or honestly. You know what they say, love is blind, and all that... 

When did you go on your first date? It was almost a year later. And on our second date, he proposed. There was a whole lot that needed to happen first in between that has a story all of its own. I'm writing it in a memoir that I hope to finish one day not too far down the road, and share with you all.

Perhaps the sweet quote from Anne of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery will give you a clue as to how it unfolded:
"Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; ... perhaps love unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship..."


I first came across this beautiful video on Lorrie's blog Fabric, Paper, Thread. As Lorrie said in her post, the videos by this young woman, Li Ziqi, are like poetry in motion. I couldn't agree more. I feel in a different space when I watch them: a young lady doing lovely work, in a lovely setting, all set to lovely music ... what could be more enchanting.

Sending you my best wishes for a beautiful weekend,
With love and hugs,
x  x


  1. Lovely post...I appreciated the quote by E.B. White and the beautiful video! Enjoy your weekend!

  2. I completely agree that Valentine's Day should celebrate ALL types of love. Every year, I participate in the "Valentines for Vets" program. At work, we had a candygram exchange on V-Day.

    I can relate to your hoarder vs. minimalist battle. I've been on a teaware and tea buying hiatus (48 days and counting!) in an attempt to control the size of my collections.

    I'm a huge supporter of the library. My first job when I was a teen was working at my local library.

    I enjoyed your "How We Met" story and can't wait for your memoir to come out so that I can read the rest!

  3. What a beautiful video, Brenda. I wonder how she got the lilac dye so perfect on the fabric. When I have tried to dye there are blotches!

  4. Oh Brenda, what a truly inspiring and gentle blog post. I just loved it. I wonder if Li Ziqi is Japanese? Enjoyed the story of your meeting your love, too. Also, thanks so much for stopping by my blog. It is always a pleasure to see that you have visited. Susan

  5. Lovely to catch up with your happenings, and thank you for the mention! So kind of you. I know what you mean about what you said in your first point, I am like that too, I clear - constantly - and really do try not to bring new things into the house, but still it moves about and gets untidy and in the wrong place and new things come and old things have to go. I think that is the way of life isn't it.

  6. Oh what a beautiful post. I love every word. I felt as though I was slowly getting to the finish of a lovely book, reading the romantic tale of how you and your husband first met. But I didn't want the book to end, I wanted to read the in between.

    About the clutter, well it seems to be a never ending battle. Some days I win, some days it does. I need to have company so that I can go after the spare bedroom, truly it is dreadful.

    Thanks so much for the lemon pie recipe - love Susan Branch anything! I will definitely make it - lemon is a favorite in our home.

    Again, a wonderful post - I wish you would write us all something every day!

  7. Lovely Friday five. I think we are alike in our minimalist/collector of memorabilia selves. I battle that along with three teens and a husband all with stuff too! On going decluttering all the time!

  8. Another lovely post, Brenda. I think most of us battle between minimalism and clutter-ism! If you discover the magic solution, do let us all know.
    I have a frozen raw pie crust in the freezer that needs using up (I made a couple last fall), and the sour cream lemon pie would be a treat for someone in this house. The other person in the house would enjoy it, too, but really shouldn't!
    Love the story of how you met and how your friendship grew into romance. Isn't that the best way? Happened like that for us, too. By the way, I was looking through my BBC year book and came across your photo again. Isn't it crazy that we never met then, but have now "met" via blogging?
    Life is full of twists and turns. Have a wonderful week!

  9. love reading this blog and especially about how you met your sweetheart!

  10. Brenda, when I come to your blog, I can always expect a lovely arrangement of thoughtful, beautiful ideas and stories for delight and pondering.

    I, too, can relate to the struggle with keeping the clutter down. We have lived in our house for nearly two years now, and it's time to go through the nooks and crannies and put it all to rights. Oh that pie! If a dessert is not chocolate, then it should be lemon. I must try this sometime soon! Thanks for sharing a bit of your love story . . . now my interest is piqued for the rest of it . . .

    May you enjoy some fine February days!

  11. How lovely that you met in a garden, Brenda, I love hearing how couples first meet. And I could related to the clutter creeping back in. I did a complete Marie Kondo a while back and was sure that it would hold but lately I've been regressing. Darn that love of shopping.

  12. What a sweet and yes, romantic first meeting, Brenda! I do think that to have a successful relationship, you must always be friends, first and foremost. Clutter is such a bother, isn't it? I have no insights into how to reduce it....I am always battling it, too. I do love your thoughts on Valentine's Day. It's a wonderful day to show appreciation to all the loves of our lives. Your pie sounds delicious and would make anyone feel loved. xo Karen

  13. Brenda, so much I could comment here on this wonderfully engaging post that covers a lot of ground! But I'll just comment on the tidying. You've inspired me to do a bit of a tune-up here before any more clutter creeps in.

  14. Dear Brenda - I am behind in catching up with you. Such a delightful post...visited Susan Branch's link too and had a nice time there as well. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have a beautiful March. Hugs!


To My Beautiful Readers,

Some people come into our lives, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. ~ Franz Peter Schubert

Thank you so much for leaving your 'footprint' here in my comment box. I do appreciate you taking a moment to share your thoughts today.

Brenda xo