Hot Beef Dip

4 May

This recipe is an heirloom from my mother, godmother, and a dear long-time (and now 80s+) friend of the family. It was originally the long-time friend’s recipe (she has been a FABULOUS cook all her life! I could seriously eat anything she makes, including seafood, which I despise, and enjoy it!), but it has become a staple for parties/hosting/snacking in all our households. I like to make this in the spring and summer, when party time and baby showers are in high gear. But I also like to make it for us “just because” as a special snack. Think of it is as melted cheese ball, essentially.

What you need:

+ 1 jar of salt-cured, thin-sliced beef, chopped up into fine pieces (sometimes called chipped beef, too)

+ 1/4 cup chopped onion, or 1 tablespoon onion powder

+ 2 tablespoons butter

+ 1/2 cup milk

+ 1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened and cubed

+ 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (optional — and I NEVER do this. I don’t like mushrooms…)

+ 1/4 shredded or grated parmesan cheese

+ 2 tablespoons chopped or dried parsley (optional)

What you do:

Melt the butter in a medium skillet or sauce pan over medium heat. Brown the onions or onion powder. Add the milk and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Then add the cheese cubes and stir until melted, reduce heat to low. Dump in the parmesan and mix well until melted all around. Finally toss in the “chipped beef” and mix well. If during the melting/cooking process the texture gets too clumpy, simply add a tablespoon of milk as often as needed until it returns to a runny cream texture. Pour into a heat safe dish or bowl, garnish with parsley, and serve up on toasted bread, mini toast, crackers, baguette slices, homemade whole wheat bread, pita bread, or whatever you like best. It is great hot, straight off the stove top, or cold out of the refridgerator. Enjoy! 🙂

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Best Ever Banana Bread

4 May

Banana bread is great — if it’s made just right. Here’s the result of several years of research and tweaking until the “just right” recipe came to be. I really enjoy making this during the winter, when a toasty kitchen full of yummy baking smells is just oh-so-comforting. 🙂

What you need:

+ 4 to 6 overripe bananas. I like mine frozen and slightly thawed.

+ 2 tsp. lemon juice (I’ve also used lime, and it works fine, too.)

+ 3 cups flour (I use 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour and one cup whole wheat flour)

+ 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

+ 1/4 tsp. salt

+ 3/4 cup butter, softened

+ 2 1/8 cup sugar (I use 1 1/8 cup regular white cane sugar, and 1 cup brown sugar — dark or light works fine)

+ 2 tsp. vanilla

+ 1 1/3 cup buttermilk (I use “old” milk or regular milk and put the 2 tsp. of lemon juice in with it first)

+ 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

What you do:

+ Cream butter and sugar together. Add overripe bananas and mash together. Mix in milk and lemon juice. Add in vanilla, salt, and baking soda. Mix in raisins (make sure they are separated apart, not clumpy). Finally, gradually add in a cup at a time the flour. This should give you a very runny “cake” batter. Grease two bread loaf pans, or one 9×13 baking dish or cake pan. I like to use glass as I think it gives the edges a nicer crust, but metal ones work just fine, too. Preheat over to 325F and bake for 1 hr 30 min. to 2 hrs. depending on how quickly your oven cooks. The bread is done when you can stick a toothpick or knife in the center and it comes up clean. Remove from the oven and cool 15 min. Place uncovered in the freezer for 45 min. I usually leave mine in over night. The freezing part makes the bread condense as it cools and makes for a very moist texture. Remove from the freezer, cut and serve. Oh, you can also serve it hot/warm when it comes out of the oven, but I don’t like it like that as the texture is dryer and more “bready” and I like mine moist. Serve plain or with cream cheese or cream cheese frosting, or drizzle milk/half-n-half/fresh cream/condensed milk over it. Yummy all those ways!

Iced Mint Tea

3 May

Here is one of my favorite summer drink!

What you need:

+ a 2 quart pitcher that can handle hot and cold drinks (my Tupperware ones work GREAT!)

+ a way to boil 2 quarts of water (I use my “singing” tea kettle, but a large pot or even a microwaveable dish would do the trick)

+ 2 herbal min tea bags

+ 1/2 cup sugar or 1/4 cup honey (I always use the honey)

What you do:

Bring two quarts of water to boil. Let cool about 5 minutes before pouring into the 2 quart pitcher. Immediately insert your two herbal mint tea bags into the hot water. Add the sugar or honey. Stir well. Leave the pitcher out to cool and let the tea percolate well. I usually leave mine out for several hours before refridgerating. However, you can also serve the tea immediately over ice to enjoy your chilled drink right away. I don’t take my tea bags out until I’ve drunk the whole pitcher, which can take a day or two. But once the bags have percolated for several hours you can remove them and throw them away. For some reason, I don’t! Laziness I guess. 🙂 Special note: if you are going to serve your tea over ice immediately, and your serving cup is a glass, it’s a good idea to put a metal spoon in the glass first, then your ice, then pour the tea in. For some reason, the metal spoon helps diffuse the heat enough to keep the glass from shattering if it is not heat resistant or able to handle drastic temperature changes. Once you’ve served your glass, you can take the spoon out.

Easy Homemade Ice Cream

3 May

This is one of the tastiest, easiest homemade ice cream recipes I know. This one is for vanilla. If you like other flavors, simply substitute your favorite flavor for the tablespoon of vanilla in this recipe. You can also add food coloring for color if you like. I like to crunch up candy bars, cookies and chocolate chips or pureed fruit and mix it in, too, once the ice cream has frozen! Delicious!!!

Basic Recipe:

+ 3/4 cup sugar

+ 2 eggs

+ 4 cups half and half (or 3 cups half and half, 1 cup heavy cream)

+ 1 tablespoon vanilla (or mint, walnut, almond or whatever other flavor you like)

+ 1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix sugar and eggs until well blended and light in color. Blend in cream, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Chill for several hours or overnight until thickened and “ice creamy”. Serve and enjoy! It does melt quickly, so don’t leave it sitting out long.

OMG, It’s been TOO long!

28 Feb

So… I have LOTS of potential posts waiting for the time… to get to them. I hope this month I will!
Future posts:
– Ideas and pics of ways to celebrate CHRISTmas.
– Valentine’s Day redeemed
– Why I think Black History Month is an insult to all Americans
– Going Green, Animal Rights and the Gospel
– Honoring St. Patrick (the real one, not the commercial one)
– Hezekiah and Eli (Biblical observations)
– Preschool Preparations (crafting opportunities extraordinaire — ohYEAH!)

– OH, and BabyWearing (something I’m doing a lot of lately!) 🙂

Can I get all these posts done in this next month? I don’t know. But I’ll give it my best! I’m so excited to write some of these I can hardly wait until I get my “to do” list or REALLY  important pressing stuff done to make this happen… 🙂

Pumpkin Cookies

12 Nov

Here is one of my favorite “fall” recipes.

The cookies come out delicious, with a soft bread-like texture. Just like biting into a small bit of pumpkin spice bread. So yummy!!

Ingredients:
– 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 teaspoon baking powder
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
– 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/2 cup butter, softened
– 1 1/2 cups white sugar
– 1 cup canned pumpkin
– 1 egg
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all the dry ingredients, set aside. Cream butter and sugar, add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla. Mix well. Then gradually add in the dry mix. Makes a stiff dough. Spoon out 1 inch drops on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool.

Variations: if you use pre-seasoned pumpkin pie mix, half the spices. You can also use baby food (the pumpkin, or pumpkin and sweet potato varieties) the same way (I did one year when we were given an overabundance of baby food). If you don’t have babyfood or pumpkin on hand, you can use a cup of applesauce and follow the seasoning amounts the recipe calls for. ALWAYS turns out yummy!!

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved

Reformation Day FUN!

21 Oct

In honor of Reformation Day (that’s October 31st to all of you who don’t know — also known as Halloween, but WAAAYYY more worth celebrating), I’m going to post up some activities I had hoped to do this year. I’ve been working for several months trying to put something together, scouring the internet for interesting things to do to help teach children (our son in particular) about Reformation Day and heroes of church history in a fun, interactive, engaging way. Can I just say, I was sorely disappointed in the lack of creativity out there for celebrating Reformation Day, AND the lack of activities that would enable teachable moments.

So, since there doesn’t seem to be much out there, I’m going share my ideas. Feel free to take them and tweek them to fit your family and/or church. We will use some of these this year, but I had hoped to put on a mini-fair in our yard and invite several other families over to get a better idea of what it will take to put something together for our church as a whole next year. However, tight finances have ruled that option out for this year. So here’s my Halloween alternative.

Reformation Day Celebration: Featured Hero- Martin Luther

Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed The World

Station 1: As guests arrive, move them in to a room or area, set up with a desk and candle light and books to look like a “study”, where they will meet “Martin Luther” (some creative adult willing to dress up and play the part of Luther), and hear a book/story about his life. (I like Martin Luther: A Man Who Changed The World  by Paul L. Maier — you can find this on amazon.com. The pictures are good quality and beautiful, and the story is engaging. You can easily take the information and make it understandable for even very young children, if the actual book part is too long for them.)

Before sending everyone out to the rest of the “Luther” stations, introduce the children to Operation Christmas Child (we like to do the shoebox gifting every year), and explain to them that Luther did what he did, so that people everywhere could know who Jesus was. Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes are special gifts for children all over the world that help Christians go and share the story of Jesus with them, too. Each family at the celebration will get a shoebox to fill with the prizes the children win as they go around the “Luther” stations. When they are finished with each station, they get to pick out a special “goody bag” of their own to take home, as well as the shoeboxes to finish packing for a special child.

You can order “Party Packs” from samaritanspurse.org with brochures to give everyone on how to put together a shoebox and ideas how to have a “shoebox party”. We choose to incorporate our shoebox party into the Reformation Day celebration, one because shoeboxes have to be dropped off early in November, and two, because this is a great chance to encourage children to do something for the sake of someone else (go around, win prizes to give away).

Make sure each station you set up is well stocked with a supply of OCC shoebox appropriate prizes that are gender neutral (oriental.com – Oriental Trading has a lot of gender neutral, OCC appropriate toy and prize items that you can buy in bulk at low cost, or try your local dollar stores). That way, when the families go home, they can choose to designate the box for a boy or girl and fill it up the rest of the way with appropriate gifts of their own selection.

Also, before sending the children out, you can use the “story time” to introduce them to a Bible verse that covers the theme of your celebration. We chose for this year “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” Colossians 3:23. At each station, they can repeat this to the adult supervising before they get their turn. You may want to give them an extra prize each time they remember it correctly. By the end of the evening, they should be pros at having the verse you select memorized.

Station 2: Bobbing for Solas OR Fishing for Solas.

For this activity, you can choose to do a traditional apple bob (if your kids are at the right age to handle this), or set up a little fish pond with water and hooks or magnets on poles. A small kiddy pool works great for either of these. At this station, children learn about the 5 Solas of the Reformation — Sola Scriptura (Scripture Alone), Sola Fide (Faith Alone), Sola Gratia (Grace Alone), Sola Christus (Christ Alone), Soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone). I’ll leave it up to you how creative you are with sharing the truths these phrases represent. For the bobbing or fishing part, come up with a symbol (like a Bible, cross, fish, crown, etc.) to represent each “sola” and draw it on the bottom of 5 apples, or fish, or ducks or small floaty toys, whatever you use in the kiddy pool. Each child should get several tries to get an apple or other item to keep, but if they snag one with a “sola” symbol on it, they get a special prize in addition to what they “bobbed up” or “caught”.

Station 3: Pin the Theses on the Door

This is a variation of “pin the tail on the donkey”. You will need a large piece of cardboard tagged up somewhere and decorated like a castle door (I like to paint, so mine would be painted, complete with faux brick and wood grain). You will also need pieces of paper with “95 Theses” printed on them (see  http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/history/95theses.htm for a printable list)– you don’t need to list all of them, just a few to give the idea. The children will have heard about this famous act of Luther and the significance of it during story time. Now it’s their turn to reenact Luther’s famous protest. Don’t forget the blindfolds! Mark a spot on the “door” for a target (I’d like to paint a nail head on it), and send the blindfolded, dizzy kiddos on their way to “pinning” up their “theses”. The closest and second closest ones win a special prize to put in OCC shoeboxes.

Station 4: Printing Press Potatoes/Stamps/Sponges

This will be a little messy. Recap with the children the significance of the invention of the printing press to the Reformation (especially the distribution of Luther’s “95 Theses”). Then let them use precut potatoes/sponges and paint or designed stamps and ink pads (alphabets, fall leaves, pumpkins, whatever shapes you can think of to be creative with) to make “printed” pictures. They might even want to print a special note or design a special picture to include in the OCC shoebox. You may want to have “smocks” made up of old t-shirts, and water with towels/sponges on hand to help with clean-up and messy spills.

Station 5: Luther Rose Bowling

Luther had a special seal called the “Luther Rose” designed for him, representing key aspects of his theology and faith. The black cross in the middle stands for Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The red heart around it shows that though the cross mortifies the flesh, it does not kill but brings life to the believer. The white rose stands for faith, love, joy, comfort and peace that grow in the human heart from believing in Christ’s work on the cross. The blue background stands for the Christian’s hope and delight in the coming joys of heaven. The gold ring around the seal symbolizes that the blessings of heaven last forever. http://cyberbrethren.com/2010/11/07/the-story-of-the-luther-seal-or-luther-rose/

Print off a copy of Luther’s Rose  and tape it to one of the bowling pins you plan to use — 2 liter soda bottles work well, or if you have a kid’s set of plastic pins like we do, use those. If you don’t have bowling pins, you can be creative and make this a can toss pyramid game instead. Let the kids have 2 or three tries each, to knock over the pin or can with the Luther seal on it. For each time they knock it over, they get another prize to add to their OCC shoebox.

Station 6: Hammer Hand Craft

Inspirational Hammer Craft Kit 

http://www.orientaltrading.com/inspirational-hammer-craft-kit-a2-48_9352-12-1.fltr?Ntt=hammer

You can order these as a foam craft from Oriental Trading, or make your own. If you want to supply plastic hammers for this, go ahead, otherwise you can cut a hammer shape from contruction paper. Make it big enough to fit an actual kid size hand, because you will be tracing each child’s hand and gluing it over the hammer. Add a cut-out of the verse “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” Col. 3:23. Remind the children that Luther used what he had, pen, paper, and a hammer and nail for the glory of God, and it changed the course of history when he nailed up his “95 Theses” outlining the truth of scripture for the life of every Christian. They may be young, and they may not have much to use, but what they have, like Luther, can be used mightily by God for His glory.

Station 7: Mighty Fortress Cake Walk

 

Have each family bring one baked “goody” or something of the sort for the cake walk. Set this up as you would a regular cake walk, and use a recording of “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” by Luther. Play the game until all the goodies are won. Each time someone wins, they are eliminated from the game. Adults and children alike can participate. The goodies are the prizes, so they won’t go in the OCC shoeboxes.

Wrap-up:

OCC_PackABox_Header

Have everyone bring their shoeboxes together, and collect all the leftover prizes from the activity stations. Let the kids pick any they would like to add to their shoebox gifts. Then ask each child to recite the memory verse they worked on all through the celebration, and if they are old enough, name one thing they learned about Luther that they found interesting. Then they get to pick a pre-made goody bag (few small toys/prizes and/or candy) as their special prize to keep as their own. Pray together for each family, and for the child who will receive their OCC shoebox this year. You’re done and hopefully, you had a fun and successful party celebrating Reformation Day! 🙂

Additional Idea:

If you have a way to set it up, you can offer a “family night” viewing sometime around Reformation Day, or even after the party, if kids are not too young, to watch the movie “Luther” together at your home or church. If you are going to do it in a larger setting, like a church-wide showing, check on copyright laws and make sure you have the proper approval to do so.

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved

Persevering Prayer

20 Oct

A million thoughts were chasing themselves around my head this evening, but one stuck out in particular and I thought I would record it here. As I was putting laundry away in my husband’s drawers, a card on top of his dresser caught my eye. It was a birthday card from the senior ministry at our church. Just a nice little thoughtful gesture that he was being thought of and prayed for during this month, his birthday month. Something small, something simple. Something so profound.

It reminded me of cards we used to get several times a year on the mission field from a group of ladies who called themselves “The Richard Bartels Roundtable Prayer Group”. This group of ladies was from a church where my parents had worshipped and served prior to being called to the mission field, quite a few years prior actually. But when the call of God sent my parents overseas to Africa and several places beyond, a group of ladies gathered themselves together and covenanted to meet together to pray weekly for my parents and our family. Remarkably, they did this faithfully for the 26+ years my parents served in missions. 26+ years. That’s a lot of weeks. That’s a lot of prayers. I only had the privilege of twice meeting this remarkable group of women, but some of them assured me they had prayed for me long before I was born, and prayed for me daily since. Most of these dear saints are with the Lord now, but the few that remain still pray faithfully for us. You see, it became a habitual joy, one that after 26 years they aren’t willing to give up. You can’t tell me that those faithful prayers didn’t have a huge impact on my parents’ ministry or on my own life over the years, and still do. I wonder how many disasters were averted, how much the path of my life has been covered by peace rather than turmoil because some obscure, unknown lovers of God took it upon themselves to petition the Throne of Grace on my behalf.

Most of these women did not have the call to go serve overseas. Many of them did not have the means. But they had the hearts to serve and they gave of themselves faithfully, in the way they were best able to. Only eternity will reveal what kind of impact their lives had upon the Gospel across the world. I have a feeling, when it comes time to call everyone to account, these simple, faithful ladies will find themselves standing in a place of high honor at the table of the Bridegroom. Well done, good and faithful servants. You were faithful in little, I will put you in charge of great things. Come, share in the joy of Your Lord. May we so love Him, that we will be faithful in the seemingly insignificant things. Who knows what great Gospel work may be accomplished because of the prayers of just a handful of quiet, persevering servants who commit to be faithful for the long-haul. ~ Matthew 25:14-23.

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved

Waiting for Baby

15 Oct

Many of you probably know this already, but if you don’t, here’s our latest news. We are waiting Wellman Baby #2’s arrival in a month or so. Baby stuff is washed, James’ room is set up for a little brother to join him, and so in two weeks time we’ll have our doctor’s prediction of when she thinks it will be best to kick things into gear for Caedmon Harper Wellman to make his appearance. We are going to do our best to try for a VBAC this time, to avoid the need for future c-sections.

Next week is a small baby shower to commemorate the expected addition, and I’m happy to say, the registry lists at walmart.com, babiesrus. com, and cottonbabies.com are much smaller this time around! We still have to figure out carseat options, as we have one small car to share between us all, including Michael’s mom who has moved in with us. It will be tricky to fit us all in.

Other than that, we are hoping the baby’s arrival won’t interfere with Michael finishing off this semester of school, or my scheduled teaching for a women’s conference breakout session at our church the first weekend of November. Ha. Life is always interesting.

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved

Jonah 07-24-2011

5 Sep

07/24/2011

Today, my Bible reading time was in the book of the prophet Jonah. That doesn’t seem particularly remarkable in and of itself. On my trek of reading the Bible cover to cover, Jonah is the book that necessarily follows after Amos and Obadiah and before Micah and Nahum. These short little books are called the minor prophets, and are a much appreciated relief after weeks and months of slogging through massive tomes like Isaiah and Jeremiah.

Jonah doesn’t at first glance seem to be a particularly remarkable prophet’s story either. He’s the Jonah of famed childhood songs like “Who did, who did, who did, who did, who did swallow Jo-Jo-Jonah?” and kid books with pictures of “Jonah and the Whale” (or more correctly, Big Fish). The familiarity of the story of “Jonah and the Big Fish” makes it almost feel like a cute nursery tale when one reads it outside of its surrounding context of all the other major and minor prophets. And that’s how I’ve usually read it, apart from the occasional enlightening sermon on “Jonah” – pick up the Bible, flip it open and read the story of Jonah.

But today, I came to Jonah after months and months of reading God’s warnings through His many prophets, generation after generation, of the impending destruction of Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom) because of their spiritual adultery and persistent, even stubborn, disregard for the laws and character of the Lord God they are called to love and to serve. Jonah is called by the Lord to prophesy, but this time not to Israel or Judah, but to the pagan Assyrian city of Nineveh. At this time, Nineveh is a declining world power, and though the Assyrians are not favorably regarded by Israel, they are not yet in a position to be the “tool of God’s wrath” upon apostate Israel and Judah. But they will once again become a formidable military presence to be reckoned with, not many years after Jonah disappears from the scene.

From the time of Jeroboam II (one of the kings of Israel after the Northern and Southern kingdoms divided, one in a relatively long line of wicked kings who incite Israel to sin against the Lord) to the fall of the Northern Kingdom, God sends a long line of prophets to call Israel (and also Judah) to repentance and to delineate not only the destruction that is about to befall them for their sins, but also God’s willingness to relent from His wrath should they repent. He even gives them time and again the details of their destruction, as well as the details of what He will do to restore them if they repent. But Israel (and Judah) stubbornly refuse to turn from evil and turn back to the worship and love of the only true God, Yahweh. But here, in the book of the prophet Jonah, I find it quite ironic that we have recorded an account where God calls His prophet Jonah to go preach His word not to Israel or Judah, but to a foreign people, the Assyrians of Nineveh. Jonah is not given a great detailed message to preach, much less any promise to give the people that God will relent if they repent. He simply says, “In 40 days Nineveh will be destroyed!” as he spends three days walking through the large city, end to end.

The Assyrians were not “God’s people” in the sense that Israel and Judah understood themselves to be. God hadn’t called them to a covenant relationship in the same way he had the Hebrews, to display His holiness among the nations. They didn’t have the “Law of God” on hand to know what He required. They didn’t have His written revelation of “I am the Lord your God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in loving-kindness” (Jonah 4:2 b – here Jonah quotes God’s words to Moses from Exodus 34, when the Lord passes His glory by Moses and declares His Name to him). Yet these pagan Assyrians, hear Jonah’s message of impending doom, and their king puts two and two together that if the Lord has given them a 40 day warning, there is time to repent and perhaps this God will relent. So an entire city of pagan unbelievers hears God’s message through Jonah of impending destruction and repents of their wickedness. One prophet, one message, only implied not explicit hope extended, and those who are not “the people of God” by Israel’s standards REPENT and are spared from destruction, while generation after generation God’s “people” of Israel and Judah ignore prophetic after prophetic warning and spiral down into a catastrophic period of disaster, devastation, and deportation.

True repentance is what matters, ultimately. A sense of comfort and assurance in a “special” status of favor is no assurance at all. Israel and Judah thought because they were God’s “people” in a special covenant sense that they could do jolly well what they pleased and everything would be okay. But God rebuked that “we are at ease in Zion” prideful attitude by demonstrating through the account of Jonah that repentance is what He desires, not dependence on a “special status” or “special system” of rules to be kept, and that a pagan nation who did not know the Lord could be even more spiritually sensitive to truth and righteousness as He desires and have changed hearts, than those who supposedly communed with Him regularly and claimed the name of Jehovah as their Lord God.

“Religious” and “good” people take warning. The unsightly prostitute on the street and dancer in the strip club may have hearts that are closer to repentance as God desires, and true brokenness over sin, than those who sit comfortably week after week in church pews and seats shouting praises to the Lord, and nodding solemnly over clever words from the pulpit. As one pastor once said, it would be a shame to go to hell from the church pew.

©2011 Reformation Lady and Chandra E. Wellman. All rights reserved.