Monday, April 30, 2007

In case you didn't see...

Here are a few of my favorite shots...

Friday, April 27, 2007

Spring in Ohio

Eeesh! It has been a crazy week here. Isabelle has finally started sleeping (better) during the night (I mean only getting up once!) since the doctor started her on antibiotics last week. She is still ultra-weezy but overall seems to be feeling 100% better. And oddly enough, this has produced in me a deep deep sleep that I don’t remember sleeping in a long time. So deep that I don’t remember her crying or Conrad getting up to comfort her. I mean, I don’t remember it at all! Conrad is suspecting that I’m just PRETENDING to sleep so that he has to get up and get the baby, but really I’m not waking up!

Last night, Conrad had a class at church till around 10ish and we had Tornado Warnings all night long. It was my first tornado warning with a baby. I started thinking through an “emergency plan” seeing as we don’t have a basement. We do have a crawl space…ewh…but it does have a light. So I cleared out the crap that was on top of the trapdoor and turned on the light and left the door open to the furnace room. If I heard that fateful siren, I thought, “I’ll run in, grap the baby (first, then the scrapbooks..I know I know, but I spent a LOT of time on those puppies) and a blanket and run to the furnace room, open the trapdoor, and go in if necessary.

Here’s Isabelle with a big stuffed bunny from her cousin in India, Susanna. It’s still bigger than she is!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Masala Chai & the Short North

A few years ago, before I moved to the suburbs of Columbus, I lived downtown in an artsy area called the Short North. I shared a cute old brick duplex with a friend from ORU. We had a grand time living there and spring was beautiful as all of the streets around our house were brick paved and lined with dogwood trees that bloomed white in March and April.

Of course, one of the more interesting things about living downtown was that it was definitely a gay neighborhood. I witnessed, on more than one occasion, events that seared themselves into my brain! On the upside, it was beautifully “gentrified” and was, overall, a pretty safe place to live.

Once I had some friends from South Africa visiting, and we went to enjoy some coffee at one of the outdoor cafĂ©’s near our house. As we sat outside chatting, a white van screeched by while the driver screamed some kind of anti-gay slogan and slammed one of my friends with rotten eggs! We were all horrified…then laughed hysterically that they hit the only straight people in the whole place! My friend commented the rest of the night that he “took one for the team.”

But I digress. What I really wanted to share was the fact that while we lived there, one of my favorite haunts was a cool tea house called Zen Cha. They made the best Masala Chai! So when I married into an Indian family and started learning how to make Indian food, one of the first things that I learned was the art of Chai. But my husband used to laugh at me wanting to add too many spices to my tea. Apparently, masala a north Indian tradition.

But I am happy to report that I found the perfect Masala Chai recipe in my favorite Indian Cook Book (my brother-in-law says that with this book he doesn’t miss home cooking anymore!) And since I have been into sharing recipes lately, I thought I would share this one with you too:

1 ½ -1 ¾ C of Milk (whole)
½ - ¾ C of water
1 Tbsp of Black tea
2 Tbsp of Sugar (to taste)
2 cm piece of ginger dry roasted (or dry spice is fine too)
2 cm piece of cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
4 black peppercorns
4 cloves

Put all of the spices into a spice grinder, or mortar and pestle, and roughly crush. Put milk and water into pot, along with ground spices and black tea. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add sugar. Let seep for 2-5 minutes. Filter out spices and tea into cups. For more froth, pour tea from one cup to another and back till frothy. Yum!!!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Strike a Pose

This weekend we took Isabelle for her first professional pictures. Not that the kid isn't photographed much! They turned out beautiful! We went to one of those mall places that a friend from work went to and her pictures were wonderful. So we decided to try it out.

Of course I went armed with a $20 coupon and wound up spending ALOT more when I saw the great shots. When we saw the pictures and the "packages" I asked Conrad what he wanted to get, and he said, "Get whatever you want, babe." and walked away to change Isabelle's diaper...rookie mistake! And I thought he really meant I did!

But I would love your opinion on which are your favorites. If you have a chance, go to Flash Portraits and click on "My portraits" to the left. Then enter "Michael" and the password is Isabelle. Let me know which ones I should get!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Isabelle's Home Away from Home

Before Isabelle was born I really worried about putting her in someone else’s care while I went to work. After Isabelle was born, during my 3 month maternity leave, I DREADED putting her into daycare. I wanted to stay home with her, but it just wasn’t feasible at the time. We planned on placing her with a friend of mine, Tara, who wanted to watch a child or two at home, so she could stay home with her little guy. Unfortunately, around the time Isabelle was born, Tara took a job as director of a Daycare center.

The daycare was right behind our house, is housed and operated by our old church, and I was even on the advisory board that helped establish the daycare a few years back. So, needless to say, this was a good second choice for us.

I’m now pretty happy that she’s there. Isabelle LOVES daycare. When we take her there in the mornings, she all but jumps out of my arms into Miss Kim’s arms, her main caregiver. There is a great ratio, only one or two babies per one worker. And many of my friends retired mom’s work there part time. So we just love that Grandma Sally comes a couple of times a week to cuddle and hold Isabelle.

Not to mention, since I am friends with most everyone there, and Isabelle is such an easy-going baby, she tends to be a favorite  And people from church drop in to kiss her and hold her every now and then. I know that they do for her what they would do for their own children, and it gives us GREAT peace! When we walk in in the evening, it’s always peaceful and happy and kids worship music is usually playing…when I think about how much we pay, geeeze, its well worth the money!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Gravy & Biscuits

I had a couple of requests for this recipe, so I thought I would post it. I named it Grandma Margie’s but the name in the book is “Shorty’s Biscuits & Gravy” And I haven’t run this by Gram officially, so I may be taking liberties with her name!

Note: I found out, do not use a non stick pan, it’s like all of the grease, that you desperately need for the gravy evaporates! I was dumbfounded. The one time I WANTED grease in my food, it wasn’t there….I don’t get it. So truly, use a well seasoned iron skillet, if you have it. If not, probably a no non-stick pan would work. And I think Grandma brushes her biscuits with water before baking. And last but not least, make sure that your dough is NOT kneeded too much, and is ½ inch thick, and shake up the buttermilk before you add it to the recipe…lessons I learned the hard way.

Grandma Margie's Biscuits & Gravy

2 c all purpose flour-sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 c crisco, chilled
3.4 c buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, into flour, stir powder, soda, salt, cut in chilled crisco until looks like coarse meal. Add buttermilk. Stir lightly until all moistened. Form into ball and transport to lightly floured surface. Kneed about 6 times. Roll into 1/2 inch thick and cut into 2 inch disks. On oiled baking sheet bake for 16 minutes or until golden brown.

1 pound meat
3 tsp flour
2 c whole milk
salt & pepper

Brown meat in iron skillet, transfer meat out, keeping 3 tbsp drippings in. Over medium heat, sprinkle flour and whisk 2 - 3 minutes until brown. Add milk and continue to stir until bubble and thickens, season with salt & pepper.

This is a picture of my Grandma at my Uncle's wedding with Vicky, Jona, and Jenna

Monday, April 16, 2007

Southern Cookin’ makes ya’ Good Lookin’

For years I have tried to make some of my Grandmothers “famous” recipes. Some I have mastered, some are adequate, and some I had come to accept total and complete failure. One of those is THE southern meal of Gravy & Biscuits. (By the way, Cracker Barrel, Bob Evans, McDonalds….ha! These are NOT real, but mere imitation!) I have had friends who flippantly tell me that they can make that…ya, those friends (who shall remain unnamed) who hail from Illinois, who’s family roots are in Minnesota…I don’t think so!!

The problem is that my Grandma tells me to add a pinch of this and a dash of that and then “eyeball” it to make sure the consistency is right…not too liquidy or too dry? What??? I need a recipe, a definitive amount to add to the concoction brewing before me. Call me anal, call me what you will. This approach just hasn’t worked for me.

So I was recently reading a novel called Home to Big Stone Gap, it’s a series that takes place in Wise County, VA, coincidently where both sides of my family are from. And the author, Adrianna Trigianni, always puts recipes in her books. And lo and behold this last book had a biscuits & gravy recipe.

So, Sunday night I tried my hand at it. It tasted just like grandmas. Not quite as good, but reasonably similar. The last time I attempted biscuits they were like little saucers and not even the dog would eat them, but these were light and fluffy, still not quite as yummy as Gran’s. Isabelle even sampled the gravy, biscuit, and eggs.

Conrad wasn’t as thrilled with it as he usually is with my Grandma’s cooking, but he ate it and said he liked it (I just think he was glad I was cooking, tho) I might add that the downside to country cooking, is like Indian cooking…all the mess!

The Payne Society Page

This last weekend my Uncle Mick got married. He married (now Aunt) Beverly. She’s great and we all love her. She’s been around a few years and since she has survived several holidays with the, sometimes-rough-around-the-edges-loud-and-obnoxious-but-always-lovable, Payne’s, I think we can assume that she successfully passed the hazing phase and can be called a full fledged member of the Payne Clan.

I have to say that one of Beverly’s great qualities is her impeccable taste. They had a spectacular wedding and I will attempt to sum it up here. The bride looked beautiful and she had four attends dressed in sky blue, two of which were my Uncle’s two daughters, Shannon and Tiffany. The wedding was beautiful and meaningful, I guess, since I spent most of it in the lobby with Isabelle.

The reception was beautiful at the Firestone Country Club. There was (notably) two ice sculptures, and little waiters bombarding you with appetizers as you entered the room. The center pieces were amazing. And, one thing of my favorite things was that the wedding party table had the wedding party, and guest(s) both seated there. It was a double wide, super long table, like a big family table, while everyone else was seated at round tables. Candles sparkled everywhere. The DJ played almost nothing but oldie love songs. The food was wonderful, prime rib being a highlight. And another favorite for us non-drinkers, was the coffee bar at the end, complete with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

Beside all of the wonderful details Mick & Bev thought of, it was so good to see all of our family, and the music wasn’t so loud that we couldn’t talk. So we sat and talked and danced and ate and laughed. And of course, Isabelle was the bell of the ball. She danced with Oma and Opa, ate cake and mashed potatoes, and finally fell asleep mesmerized by the disco ball.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Easter Pictures, better late than never...

Here are some pictures from our lovely Easter weekend:

This is Isabelle decked out for Good Friday service.

This is Isabelle and Opa opening up her cool easter basket (thank you Oma!)

This is my Papaw & Grandma Payne. Almost all of Easter dinner was courtesy of Grandma and it was good! Didn't Papaw look good that day?

This is everyone at dinner.

This is a baby shitzu that my cousin Tiffany brought over. It was sooo calm and tiny. i don't think that Isabelle realized it was ALIVE and REAL. Needless to say I was more concerned about the dog than her.

All in all, a great holiday...

A Visit from Anthony & Arnold

Next week, on April 18, 2007, our sister-in-law, Anthony Mary, and our nephew, Arnold have a visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Chennai, India. The last time they applied to visit, for our wedding, they were promptly turned down, while everyone else in the family was approved. We guess it was just because she’s young and educated that they rejected her application. For so many reasons it’s important that they come. The most important is that they haven’t seen Hubert in over six years! Their appointment will be happening while it is the evening of April 17th for us. We will be fasting and praying with them that this appointment goes well and that they have favor with the U.S. government officials. For my family (or anyone who wants to), I know you wanted to fast with us. E-mail me or post here so we know who is agreeing with us in prayer. Thank you! Thank you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bonus Blessings

This weekend we went to my parents for Easter. They let my Grandpa out of rehab on Sunday and it was nice to be together. When your loved one's get older, it seems that each holiday or family dinner is a bonus blessing. I think we are all feeling that way about Papaw.
He has diabetes and is on full dialysis for the past few years. This past year or so has been really rough on him and any little health upset sends his body to the brink. A couple of months ago, they discovered that his circulation in his foot wasn't great and to make a long story short, had to amputate his leg. So now he is getting use to life with one leg, already being shaky on two legs.

They just finished building a beautiful little house attached to my parent’s house, so it's a huge blessing that my grandma has my mom and dad near to help with him. My Dad refuses to put him in a rest home, even though caring for him may be difficult. He says he remembers when he was little and his dad took him hunting. During the trip, he got tired and Papaw carried him the rest of the night on his back. Dad says the least he can do is carry him in his old age.

A few days ago, he had another bad “spell” and all of the pain medication he was on was making him a bit loopy. My Grandma came into his room at rehab and said he was making little baby noises, like he was talking to a baby. And was saying, “Hey, Little Baby,” in his raspy southern voice. My Grandma asked him who he was talking to, and he said, “I was taking to that little baby, and she was here, but then she just disappeared.” She asked, “Are you talking about Isabelle?” He said yes. She laughed and laughed.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Knitting & Husbands

This week we got to see some good friends who live in Michigan, Mike & Cara O and their kids, who came to Columbus to visit. They were staying with our friends Scott and Kirsten and we had dinner with everyone Wednesday night. It was so nice to catch up with Cara. We have been good friends since she moved to Columbus a few years back (and then moved back home a year later). Cara and I were instant close friends as we have very similar personalities and warped perspectives on life!

A few years ago, before most of us were married, our favorite thing to do on a Saturday night was go to Kirsten’s, all of us already in our PJ’s, and bring our knitting (seriously, we were all trying to learn to knit at the time), ice cream, and chick flicks. The four of us (Kirsten, Kim, Cara, and I) sat around, laughed, talked, and drove the lone man (Kirsten’s husband, Scott…also our pastor) crazy! Actually he was quite obliging about the whole thing, as long as we included him in the ice cream, the movie wasn’t too “chicky”, and no one required him to knit.

It is amazing to see where God has brought us all. Interestingly enough, all of my closest girl friends got married within six months of each other. Cara and Kim both married in April of 2005, I followed in May. Cara then had a baby last year, so did we, and Kim is expecting in May! The house was full on Wednesday night with kids and babies running around, not to mention the addition of three husbands. I think Scott was very glad to no longer be the sole male.

This picture above is of Isabelle trying some of Kirsten’s yummy dessert on Wednesday night

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

My Little Prayer Request...

! Well, maybe I spoke too soon on the whole spring thing, I hear it may snow this week just a little north of us! Urggg! I hope it doesn't hit us! Just a small note. I applied for a job at Ohio State University this week. It's in the office of Intercultural Affairs, a director position. The one I applied for is the director of the Study Abroad program. It's right up my alley and would be quite a promoiton. So, all that to say, it's pretty difficult to get into OSU and it may be a LONG shot to get it, not to mention the position says they are currently considering an internal candidant, but I'm "welcome to apply." So, keep me in your's the first job I've applied for in a couple of years that I've been excited about! Thanks