Advent 1

Happy New Year!
Well technically today is New Year’s Eve, but I may forget the greeting since tomorrow I expect to be reporting on the All Ages Jesse Tree Gathering happening at church. The past week has been a combination of my dashing over to the laptop to see if any important CTM correspondence has arrived and rushing off into another room to take down all the Harvest Decorations and then to begin putting up all the Advent and Christmas Decorations.
 While I work mornings my radio companion is CBC Radio 2, which plays classical music from 9am to about 2pm, after that I either turn to the Internet or to our CD collection. So last Tuesday, before opening any other boxes of Christmas things I immediately brought up the crate of Advent and Christmas CDs and popped this one in the CD player. Last year Anna gave it to me and it is my hands down favourite soundtrack throughout Advent, I just stick it on “repeat” and let ‘er rip!
 Unfortunately a fair bit of time has also been expended in shovelling (the bane of my winter existence) as the weather has made a dramatic turn around from late fall to WINTER with at least 10cms of snow falling during the past week. I’m so happy I got the compost spread and the grass seed sewn just in the nick of time. Whew!!
  We had a small but very productive Day Camp committee meeting on Monday evening. Several members called in sick but even so we tackled a big agenda and had some really good discussions. Sebastian had sent us some preliminary notes about his proposal for a Team to travel to Germany this summer and lead a Day Camp during a special conference marking the 500th Anniversary of the
Reformation! We are pretty excited about this invitation and are attempting to discern if the Lord is leading us to stretch ourselves further than usual and take on this extra project. The Team going would certainly not be one of the regular 6 Teams, which lead Camps across Canada. Firstly because we already have churches booking Camps and hope to have our full compliment of 27 by the time
spring rolls around. Secondly we really feel that only adults could travel overseas on such an adventure and be suitably prepared to offer a Day Camp in German as well as being ambassadors for CTM. At present 3 people with the right qualifications have expressed interest, a good sign! But there are WAY more details to consider. We hope that Sebastian or his wife Benita, will be able to come and speak with us at our next meeting so we can clarify things a bit more.
Of course at our meeting we also talked a lot about the on-going work on this year’s Program, potential Team Members, host locations, etc. etc. etc.!!
     On Thursday I had a chat with Josiah who is designing or 2017 Program Logo. Josiah has designed two or three Program logos in the recent past and his work is truly great, we are a bit behind in getting the logo completed but I was happy to hear he now expects it to be finished by next week. Even though we will be into Advent by then I still want to send out reminders to churches about sending in their Application forms. Host communities are so locked into particular dates that is increasingly difficult to work out possible Team progressions and still accommodate all the specific requests. Sigh.
  Of course during the past week there have also been other digressions such as a morning spent down at St. Stephen’s arranging Advent decorations. If anyone had told me last year at this time that this would be the last Advent at our church I would have been totally disbelieving, yet it is now a reality to face. Nick and I were saying as we dragged the ladder around and hung the “Swoosh” that it is important to put a brave face on things and create some final happy memories for our church family, young and old and so we hung the swoosh, prepared the Advent Wreath and plans are now pretty well in order for the Jesse Tree.
     Before I begin work on tonight’s dinner we need to close off with this week’s recipe. Wednesday evening, since I needed to have the oven on to bake gluten-free bread (a weekly standing order from Sue) I decided it was just the right sort of weather for “Slumber Party Potatoes” an old favourite, originally found in a book from one of my Mum’s favourite detective story authors, Dianne Mott Davidson. These books were a perfect fit for my Mum (and myself) since the chief protagonist is a Caterer who is also an Episcopalian Sunday School teacher! (No my Mum and I did not also aspire to solving mysteries!!)
Slumber Party Potatoes
  • ½ lb. thick cut bacon
  • 4 large baking potatoes, scrubbed and
    pricked all over with a fork
  • 1 bunch broccoli
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsps. butter
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the potatoes in the oven and prepare everything else while they are baking. They should take approx.1 hour. Trim the broccoli and break into florets. Steam for about 3-5 minutes. Lay the bacon slices in a shallow dish and add to the oven for the last 20 minutes while the potatoes are baking. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, stir in the flour and crumbled bouillon cubes and cook for 2 minutes until smooth and bubbly. Gradually stir in the milk. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes until thickened. Remove from the heat, stir in the cheese and Worcestershire Sauce, whisking until smooth. When the potatoes are ready place them in the centre of a platter and surround them with the broccoli, top with the bacon. Place the cheese sauce in a gravy boat or jug. Each diner splits open their potato and tops with broccoli, bacon and sauce. Yum! Serves 4.

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