Saturday, 23 February 2019

23/02/19














    This may be a shorter than usual post since much of my typing is done with one hand while a small puppy lies across my lap and frequently ”edits” what I have just written by laying his snout across the keyboard.
It has been a very tiring week as I am only able to average a few hours of sleep each night since Thomason must be taken out every three to four hours.
Life, however, goes on so this week has also included the monthly Day Camp Committee meeting (Tyler nobly came and “puppy sat” in the living room while we endeavoured to concentrate on the agenda as we met around the dining room table) 
Then Thursday evening was a CTM Board meeting at which I serve as secretary so that was also quite “interesting”. Unfortunately for the on-going business of CTM but fortunately for me, we did not have quorum and so the meeting ended earlier than usual (woo hoo 😊).
   Lots has been happening on the Day Camp front- the Community Planner is now in the “proofing” stage, several more host communities have sent in applications for their Day Camps and there is word of TEN or more prospective Team Members.
Retreat plans are also firming up so I have begun to reach out to potential Workshop Leaders and Evening Speakers, no responses yet but messages were only sent out this week.
    Next month I intend to begin preparing some of the food for the Retreat Week and so spent a bit of time in the last few days writing out extensive grocery lists for several main course dishes as well as a bunch of different baked goods. Soon I’ll set up a schedule with no doubt an overly ambitious list of recipes to make each day of my cooking marathon!  Stay tuned for photos and updates. 😊
The only other significant work this week outside of office hours has been PUPPY TRAINING, which will be taking up may hours of my days for approximately the next year. Thomason is still way too small to learn many of the commands but even in the last six days we have seen progress and I choose to believe he will be a quick learner. Riveron Labradors are all extremely bright!! We are of course starting with the word “NO”, which I fear is being used a lot around here as in “NO bark!” “NO Bite!”, “NO Chew!” or just plain “NOOOOO!!!!!”
Although he has been napping for most of this post he keeps stretching his front paws out and adding letters to my words so I think I had better close off with a recipe and give him my full attention for a while😊 .
Most of our meals this have been pretty simple due to the many interruptions of puppy wrangling but one night I made Parmesan French Toast with Mushroom Fricassée. It was very yummy, especially for mushroom lovers. 😊

 Parmesan French Toast with Mushroom Fricassée  
Mushroom Fricassée
1 mushroom stock cube
½ cup boiling water
8 oz. each sliced oyster mushrooms and café au lait button mushrooms
2 Tbsps. butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup heavy cream

French Taost
8 slices brioche-style bread
4 large eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan
6 Tbsps. butter or margarine
Finely sliced scallion greens for garnish

Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water and set aside.  In a large deep skillet melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms, with a little salt, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add the stock and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated. Stir in the cream and simmer until thickened, season to taste and set aside.
In a shallow pie plate whisk together the eggs, thyme, milk and Parmesan with salt and pepper. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 250º and melt 2Tbsps. butter in a large heavy frying pan. Dip 3 slices at a time in egg mixture and fry in the butter for approx. 4 minutes per side until browned and crisp. Transfer to a parchment–lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. While cooking the rest of the French toast, reheat the mushroom fricassée. When all the slices are cooked transfer them to a serving platter. Decant the mushrooms into a gravy boat and garnish with scallion greens. Serve immediately. Makes 3 or 4 servings

Saturday, 16 February 2019

16/02/19












               

     and the new arrival...





Those of you who are regular readers no doubt know that I am about to bring home a puppy, and tomorrow is the big day! So I’m putting together most of this week’s post this evening in the hopes that when we get home tomorrow I will just need to grab a moment to press the ”Publish” button!!! (and just maybe add a couple of sweet puppy photos 😊
    The last ten months have been very hard, as I have grieved the death of my long-time companion Wil, who died last May. Although my home is constantly full of activity with all sorts of different people in and out for meetings and visits and often a boarder or two added to the mix, I still lack anyone who can offer me unconditional love the way a dog does and having nearly always had a dog in my life since I was 6 years old, being “dog-less” is not a lifestyle to which I easily adjust. Of course I also have wrestled with feelings of being “disloyal” to Wil who was the most AMAZING dog I have had the pleasure of knowing but I cannot bring Wil back to life and so it is time to build a relationship with a new “best friend”.
    The fact that 24 people from the CTM community contributed to turning my dream into a reality makes the bringing home of Thomason even more special, since many of those friends are anxious to meet him too!
    The past week has felt almost as crazy as the week before Day Camps begin. I know that things are going to be VERY different with a puppy in the house and so have been racing to do all sorts of extra jobs so that it will be possible to keep my head above water in the season of “extreme puppy training”.
    Although we had a HUGE blizzard this week (with mountains of snow to shovel…UGH!!) we are inexorably moving towards spring and so the world of Day Camps is heating up, despite the freezing world outside my doors.
    This week alone 4 more communities have booked Camps and several others have made enquiries. Arnee is also typing Manual content at a very fast pace so each morning more documents arrive in my Inbox for proofreading. Fortunately Gillian (a former Team Leader now married and living in Calgary and also [trivia item] sister-in-law of my current boarder, Steven) has come to the rescue and offered to do proofreading, which is a HUGE help. Yay Gillian!
    The community supply lists, registration templates and poster templates are all ready for sending to host communities but the new Planners are still not quite completed so there is a big push to have them done before the end of this month.
    In March I am planning to begin baking and cooking for the Retreat Week and so have also started to compile long grocery lists for all the make-ahead items in the menus. I would really like to do a whole "bonus" post about our newly reconfigured Training Retreat but perhaps that is just too much what with all that is going on plus puppy😊. 
     The past week also included an extra catering job (dinner for 8), an afternoon sewing tutorial with Jillian followed by the long postponed “First Anniversary Dinner” for Jillian and Victor and a  “Snow Day” when the city ground to a halt and everyone shovelled out from the blizzard. Maybe puppy time will actually be more restful. Ha!
   Next week is already shaping up to be quite the marathon with both the monthly Day Camp Committee Meeting AND the CTM Board Meeting plus, hopefully, an evening visit with Pippa who still hasn’t been able to work out a good time to come and receive the birthday gift I have prepared for her.
    So before I get back to the balance of the office work I’ll just close off with a quick recipe.
    For last evening’s Anniversary Dinner I prepared a Cuban Menu (something to remind us of sunny beaches instead of mounds of ice 😊) Our dessert was a Meyer Lemon Swiss Roll. I’m sure it would be very nice with regular lemons, but if you can find Meyer Lemons, well, they are pretty special!!

Meyer Lemon Swiss Roll
3 eggs
¾ cup sugar

3Tbsps. Meyer lemon juice
2 Tbsps. Meyer fine lemon zest
¾ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
Filling-
2 8oz. pkgs. cream cheese
¼ cup butter
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. Meyer lemon juice
2 tsps. Meyer lemon zest
Decorating-
Thin Meyer lemon slices
Extra icing sugar

Line a 10”x15” jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Grease and flour the paper.
Beat the eggs until thick and light, then gradually beat in the sugar, juice and zest. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and gently fold into the egg mixture using a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread carefully into an even layer.
Bake in a preheated 350º oven for 10minutes. While it is baking, lay a tea towel on your work surface and dust it with icing sugar. As soon as the cake is done carefully flip it out of the pan onto the tea towel, quickly trim about ½" off each edge, where it has browned then, starting at the shorter end, roll the warm cake into the towel and set aside on a rack to cool completely.
While it is cooling, place the filling ingredients in a mixer bowl and beat together until smooth and thick. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.
Once the cake is cool, carefully unroll it from the towel. Spread the filling evenly over the cake and gently reroll. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Just before serving, dust liberally with icing sugar and decorate the top with lemon slices.
Serves 4-6.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

09/02/`19





















            The work of Day Camps has continued apace around here over the past week.
            We continue to receive applications from host communities, which is most encouraging and we are also on the cusp of completing the new “Planners” that will replace the Planning Guides. There are two types of Planners, one for the Host Communities and the other for Travelling Teams. Of course both Planners contain some different information but there is also some overlap so we have to make sure there are no discrepancies between the two documents since that could cause massive confusion for both Teams and Communities. Our committee has totally bitten off more than we can chew this year with the complete revision of the Planners, a huge revision of content and layout in the Program Manual plus the unexpected closure of the Isaiah 40 facility and the ensuing need to rethink both how we do supplies AND our Training Retreat Week!
         I’m trying very hard not to let a sense of panic take over, as it is only February but there seem to be so many balls to keep juggling and only so many hours in each day.    The committee members are all doing yeoman service but inevitably I am aware of my responsibility to keep the ball rolling.  For me Prayer is a huge part of the process  and Mae Anne is doing a super job sending out the monthly Prayer Concerns list to our Prayer Support Group so it is fantastic to know that people on three continents are faithfully praying for the ministry; giving thanks for each small victory and interceding for on the tough issues with which we wrestle 😊.
        My other work on general office duties for CTM also requires a bit of extra effort at this season, as it is Income Tax time so people are contacting the office asking for tax receipts. This job is in the purview of our Treasurer but I have been providing him with information he needs to facilitate the process and that has taken up a big chunk of time this week.
       It looks as if part of this weekend will need to be devoted to some work on contacting potential speakers and workshop leaders for the Training Retreat. One has to book people super early as so many families and individuals are on vacation the first week of July when our retreat is held. During the week I did approach a potential worship music Leader who is now praying about it, I totally hope they feel called to say, “yes” as that position is a very important piece of the “puzzle”.
   Well I made an early start on this post right after breakfast but need to break now to go and do some shopping at the CO-OP, I’ll reconnect in an hour or so….
...Here I am back from an extremely cold shopping expedition. I wore my Tuktoyaktu!k Parka but was still cold around the edges, so now let's get on with the weekly report!
    Progress is slowly being made on amassing all the Program Manual content. I think we are now only missing two Main Presentation components –“ZOOM” & “The Quiz”. Considering the deadline was December 31st 2018, I am getting a bit grumpy about this but both the people writing the content have promised to submit it ASAP, so I’m trying to live in hope! HA!
     One big concern at present is the impending March 15thdeadline for Team Applications. Not one application has yet been submitted, which is a bit discouraging after early indications that we might have actually improved our recruiting catchment zone by reaching out to a number key people and asking for help with his crucial need. One day last week I sent a plaintive email to ALL the 2018 and some of the 2017 Team Members reminding them of the Deadline, I also sent an email to a short list of potential Training Team Leaders about their possible involvement but neither message has a elicited even one response. Sigh.
    So before the moody of this post degenerates into gloom, let’s wrap-up with a recipe and a reminder (to myself) that one week today, God Willing, I should be seated at this hour in Tyler’s car with a warm puppy on my lap, bringing Thomason home 😊
    Last Tuesday evening we held one of our bi-monthly Pod Gatherings and since it was also Chinese New Year, everyone brought Chinese Food. I made Slow Cooker Hot & Sour Soup, which was super easy to put together and very yummy!

Slow Cooker Hot & Sour Soup
8 cups 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
8 oz. oyster mushrooms sliced 
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. sriracha 
1 tsp. pepper

1 tsp. sugar

1 block firm tofu, cubed

 ¼ cup each, freshly chopped cilantro
& sliced green onions 

In a slow cooker combine all the ingredients, except the cilantro and onions. Cook on Low for 6-7 hours, just before serving stir in the cilantro and onions. Serve over a scoop of plain steamed rice, with extra sriracha on the side.
Serves 6-8

Saturday, 2 February 2019

02/02/19








Apologies for not writing a separate post about last Sunday’s Retreat Week planning meeting but the week started off with a flurry of follow-up work and there has been precious little free time since 😊
So let’s begin with an overview of the meeting:-
     Once everyone was settled with spiced cocoa and biscotti, Jillian was appointed as our scribe and Jessica took her place at the whiteboard. We began by compiling a list of logistical problems, some of which we were able to discuss and some others of which will end up on future agendas.
    Next we began a day-by day detailed revision of the schedule, looking at current workshops, scrapping some and adding some fresh ideas. I checked back with the minutes of last July’s Retreat evaluation meeting to make sure we incorporated any suggestions made at that time. We worked steadily for 2 ½ hours and made some really good progress then moved into a time of prayer before packing up around 5pm.
I have mentioned it many times both on this platform and in other places -I am REALLY  am SO thankful to be surrounded by such a dedicated and enthusiastic group of committee members who are willing to give so much of their time and talent to this ministry, they are all such a blessing.
    It was unfortunate that Brenda was unable to be with us, but I’m sure she will have plenty to contribute to the on-going discussions even from the distance of her new home in Halifax!
   As I said earlier, much of the week has included follow-up work from the meeting and I hope to devote a portion of each workday from now on to focus on aspects of Retreat planning. 
   Meanwhile, several more community applications have arrived as have a number of emails indicating interest from several provinces, all of which is quite encouraging.
    Wednesday evening we held a short Promo Committee meeting over Skype. This small committee is made up of the ministry directors of Junior Youth Camp, Senior Youth Camp and Day Camps and is currently working on the scheduling of promo visits to churches and other groups who are interested in our camps. Hopefully we will have a good response to our enquiries. I am SO excited about our new Day Camp Promo video, filmed and edited by Jillian. I plan to post it on the CTM Facebook Page but am  linking it here also. We all think it is FANTASTIC and I hope blog readers will think so too 😊
 There really hasn’t been much time this week for other activities beyond the inevitable work of shovelling, although I was able to finish knitting an alpaca shawl, which a friend had commissioned me to make for her.
Yesterday was a “Brady” morning. There will only be one or two more of these before I need to step back from that task in order to focus on puppy training!
TWO WEEKS from today I will be bringing Thomason home and life is going to be changing radically around here as we all adjust to having a pup in the house 😊
As you will gather from the lack pf photos, I am STILL without a cell phone, however Wentworth is dealing with some serious glitches in wiping the data of my "new" phone and has promised to bring it over this afternoon. Who knows, maybe next week things can get back to normal (sort of normal 😊) around here !
Today is just a regular “bake and blog” Saturday with time set aside for shovelling-yes more snow is falling! This afternoon’s baking list includes gluten-free bread, ciabatta loaves, Moon Cakes (Chinese New Year is coming up next Tuesday) and Pizza for dinner, YUM 😊
So we better have our recipe now and then I need to get started. 

    Thursday evening we had Fried Rice in Pineapple Boats, it is such an attractive dish I thought I would share it today…
Fried Rice in Pineapple Boats 
1 large pineapple
1 ½ cups white rice, cooked
2 Tbsps. vegetable oil
1 orange or yellow pepper, cubed
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
5oz. mushrooms, sliced
½ cup cashews
1 tsp. each ground cumin and coriander
3 Tbsps. Tamari soy sauce
½ cup chopped cilantro
1 spring onion, thinly sliced

Halve the pineapple lengthwise, keeping the leaves intact. Scoop out the flesh and cut it into chunks, set aside 2 cups of flesh and save the rest for another use and place the pineapple boats on 2 dinner plates.
Heat the oil in a wok and fry the onion and garlic until golden. Add the peppers, mushrooms and spices and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice, pineapple chunks and cashews and sprinkle with the Tamari. Toss the mixture thoroughly and continue stir-frying until everything is well heated.
Pile the mixture into the pineapple boats and garnish with cilantro and spring onions. Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish.