Saturday, 20 January 2018


Here we are whizzing through January, which is just as well given that the weather continues to be appalling!
Last Saturday we had a monster snowstorm but after a long morning of heavy duty shovelling Alexander called and insisted on driving me to Jillian’s wedding so I quickly changed out of sweaty work clothes into a suitable dress and joined the expedition as we drove very slowly through the snow-filled streets.
After the ceremony, the Huyers brought me home and Timothy helped with more shovelling while Victoria set up beds for the boys. Then he and Victoria left for the reception while I took charge of my 3 little Godsons. We enjoyed Chicken Noodle Soup, had story time and everyone (me too!) was in bed by 830pm J a very long, full day!!
Sunday we shared in house church (now officially called “The Pod”) and in the afternoon headed to St. Peter’s for the Praise & Thanksgiving Gathering. It was quite wild driving through the snow-clogged streets trying to balance 2 giant slow cookers full of hot lemonade, oh my! But it was a real blessing that close to 40 people of all ages turned out for the Gathering and everyone really appreciated the hot lemonade and caramel popcorn, which I had prepared.
Monday evening we held our monthly Day Camp Committee meeting and covered plenty of territory, especially spending time discussing some new components of the Program and how we would incorporate them into the Manual.
On Tuesday I had a great meeting with Arnee our AMAZING Manual typist and formatting expert. She is about to leave for a month in Ireland but will be working from there and so we needed to talk about the changes while she was still on the same side of the Atlantic J
All the committee discussions led to a week of good stuff as I spent time reaching out to possible host locations both “regulars” and “newbies”. The many emails flying back and forth have brought both exciting possibilities and a few disappointments so I can already see that God has a TON of work for us to do this summer as we share the good news about Jesus with communities across Canada.
We also heard, this week about 2 Team Member candidates from the York Region of the Diocese of Toronto. Lauren was on Team last summer, and would like to return and she has encouraged her friend, Alexandra, to also apply. There are several others from last year whom we hope will sign up but, as usual, the biggest struggle will be finding enough young adults of leadership age and capabilities. Being a Team Leader is a huge job so those candidates are key to forming strong Teams.
As of Thursday Victoria has been back staying, along with a friend. They are attending a conference hosted by The Isaiah 40 Foundation and being held at a church out in the suburbs. The conference ends late this afternoon and Luiza will go home to Ottawa but Victoria is staying on since tomorrow afternoon is the monthly CTM Board meeting. Timothy and the 3 boys will be driving down too so today I’ve been preparing a one-pot supper that can be served right after the meeting tomorrow before the Huyers make the long drive back to Ottawa. The little boys are not very adventurous eaters so I decided to fall back on a tasty childhood favourite- Sloppy Joes. During the week I baked hamburger buns on which to serve the filling and for dessert we will have tangerines and biscotti.
Soon I will need to turn my attention to setting the table for tonight's dinner with Victoria and Luiza. We are having Leek and Potato soup with Cheese Scones and for dessert sliced kiwis and porcupines.
But before heading for the kitchen I thought  it would be nice to share the Sloppy Joe recipe. It is quick to put together and (usually J) a hit even with picky eaters!!

Sloppy Joes
1 large onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 Tbsps. vegetable oil
2 lbs. lean ground beef
¼ tsp. cayenne
½ tsp. each chilli powder and paprika
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried basil
2 tsps. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. hot sauce
1 cup ketchup
1 cup frozen corn kernels

Heat the oil and sauté the onion and green pepper with the chilli powder, cayenne, paprika & salt and pepper, over low heat for 15 minutes or until soft.
Remove the vegetables to a bowl and in the same pot brown the beef over medium heat, breaking up the clumps. Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer gently for 45minutes.
Serve over split buns or slices of country bread.

Serves 6-8. Freezes well J

Friday, 12 January 2018


Although this post will be published tomorrow as usual I’m making a start on it today since I’m really not sure how the coming weekend is going to unfold!
Jillian, my Boarder over the past 5 months, is getting married tomorrow afternoon at 200pm. However the Environment Canada Weather Office has issued a “severe winter storm” warning. Right now the temperature is well above freezing and it has been raining hard since last night but during the evening there is supposed to be a drastic drop in temperature to around -10ºC accompanied by a change over to ice pellets and then heavy snow. This will continue throughout tomorrow with 25cms of snow and high winds forecast.
Because Jillian has been involved for a number of years with several of CTM’s Ministries there are many members of the Crosstalk “family” invited to the wedding including the Huyer family (my Godsons and their parents) from Ottawa. Their original plan was to drive down Saturday morning but when we spoke yesterday Victoria told me that they were considering trying to come this evening in order to get ahead of the worst of the storm. With these worsening conditions, I just sent her a text asking if they still thought it wise to even try and come as the Weather Office is calling for “hazardous driving”.
If they do come, they will be staying here and will stay over until Sunday as we also have our thrice-yearly Praise & Thanksgiving Gathering scheduled to take place at St. Peter’s Church on Sunday afternoon.
All of this upset ends off quite a turbulent week as Jillian packed up her room in my house and we tried to carve out a few special “good-bye” times to share. We had lunch AND dinner together on Wednesday and watched some videos together then her sister Janice (who arrived from Toronto Wednesday evening) came yesterday to help transport all Jillian’s belongings to the apartment she and Victor have rented just two blocks away from my house!
So suddenly it is pretty quiet around here in the lull before the (literal and figurative 😊!!) storm.
Last evening Jessica came for dinner and to flesh out details of the Day Camps portion of Sunday’s Gathering as Day Camps and both Junior and Senior Youth Camps are each contributing a section of the Service and Jessica, as a valued Committee Member, will be giving a report on the plans for our 2018 Program “One of Us”.
Somehow in the coming 2 days I shall also need to complete preparations for our January Committee Meeting, taking place on Monday. AGH!!! Right now I'm off to pump up air mattresses and make the extra beds kinase the Huyers get here tonight and  then this afternoon I plan to make a HUGE pot of a very special Chicken Noodle Soup. 
IF the Huyers do come for the wedding and IF Victoria and Timothy are able to drive out to the far eastern part of the city where the reception is to be held, then I shall be feeding dinner to the 3 boys and there is nothing like chicken noodle soup as the quintessential winter comfort food. I divided up the work by cooking the chicken, taking it off the bones and straining the broth yesterday so today it will be all about cutting up all the vegetables and assembling the soup, although I shan’t add the noodles until I heat it up for dinner tomorrow as they get squishy if they are reheated.
If you are stuck inside during some nasty winter weather maybe you would like to make a batch too 😊 Remember-don’t add the pasta until you are just bout ready to eat it!

Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup

Broth & Meat Prep: -
1 4 lb. chicken OR 4 lbs. chicken pieces with the bone in
1 whole onion, peeled
1 carrot, peeled
1 stalk celery
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
 Place all of the above ingredients in a large stockpot with approx. 12 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 1 ½ -2 hours or until the chicken is falling off the bones. Strain the broth into a very large bowl, place the chicken in a separate dish to cool and discard the vegetables (unless you have a large dog sitting next to you who will very happily eat them J).
Refrigerate the broth and once the chicken is cool enough to handle remove and discard the skin and bones and refrigerate the cooked meat.
Next day: -
 4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced
3 stalks of celery, sliced
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
12 oz. egg noodles (I like to use Farfalle)
Remove the broth from the fridge and skim off any excess fat that has solidified on the surface. Tear the cooked chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside.
In a large soup pot melt the butter and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the reserved broth and bring to a simmer. Add the carrots, celery and parsnips and simmer for 10minutes then add the chicken.
If you intend to freeze all or part of the soup now is the time to remove it from the heat and divide it.
When you are ready to eat it, bring it back to a steady simmer, add all or part of the pasta and simmer until the pasta is al dente.

Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve with a crusty loaf or baking powder biscuits. Yum.

Monday, 8 January 2018

The Epiphany Team Gathering

Happy Monday Everyone!
Sorry this didn't happen yesterday, things were just too manic around here.
 We had an amazing Team Gathering on  Saturday, with 17 people braving -40C temperatures to enjoy a lovely evening of worship, good food and fellowship.
Here are the photos, we hope you enjoy them 😊

Saturday, 6 January 2018


Happy Feast of the Epiphany!
     We are busy setting up for a feast around here as this evening the Epiphany Team Gathering is happening 😊
    The past week has been super busy with the “Changing of the Decorations”, a special lunch visit from Jillian and her fiancé, Victor, a Tea party with the Irish family, and a TON of shovelling!!!!
Montreal (and I believe most of the eastern portion of North America) is caught, again, in another arctic deep freeze and this one has included high winds and blowing snow. That means a couple of frigid hours each day endeavouring to keep the front path and driveway, and deck (aka garage roof) clear. No matter how often I clean the front path deep drifts of blowing snow soon fill it up, all of which is VERY nasty!
   To top it off my friend and her family were down at the cottage and so Wil and I have had to battle our way over to her house each morning to feed the two cats. UGH!!
    Yesterday morning we enjoyed a pleasant rest on our way back home as the Sweetman clan was staying at Isaiah 40 and Stella called to ask if I would be able to stop by for morning coffee to see everyone 😊
    I have known this family almost my whole life and their Mum, Vina, was the person who established the Isaiah 40 Foundation. Vina was also a beloved mentor and former Day Camp Director! Three of her four offspring were on Travelling Team when she was Directing and long ago her eldest son and I were in youth group together at St. Matthew’s.
   It was lovely to see 3 generations of family members; the hardest part was dragging myself away after a short visit 😊
  Well right now I must get back to preparations for this evening. There should be 15 or 16 of us so I need to haul out a bunch of boot trays and also make a big crockpot of Hot Lemonade, since there will be lots of frozen fingers and toes needing a warm up!
    Tomorrow there will be a bonus Post with a bunch of 
photos from tonight’s Gathering; so do remember to check back 😊
Right now I’ll close off with the Hot Lemonade recipe. It is lurking somewhere in the Blog archives but since it is so yummy in the winter it bears repeating today!

9 cups water
1-2 cups of sugar (to taste)
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups orange juice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp.  vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a crockpot and simmer gently for a couple of hours before serving. This recipe makes a big batch but any leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week so one can heat up a mug after a round of shovelling J