Friday, November 30, 2007

Cookbook Classics

My Grandma Margie is an amazing cook. Over Thanksgiving I got the privilege of making her FAMOUS thanksgiving rolls. Well…actually, I just followed her step by step verbal instructions as she told me what to do. She even had to step in a few times to save the mess I’d made. BUT…MY VERY hands created the family favorite.

As I begin the baking process, she pulled out the faithful old cookbook she got the recipe from. It was a well worn copy of Holiday Favorites of the Assemblies of God Women, 1969. As I perused the cookbook, it was stocked full of wonderful recipes and “Menu’s “ for events such as “Youth Night” at church to “Election Night Dinners” Classic!

Decided that I had to have a copy of this old cookbook, I looked in the back of the book, and it had an order form and a request for $3, which included shipping and handling. Thinking that the AOG probably didn’t have a stockpile of these books in a backroom somewhere, I went to good ole’ google.

And I am happy to announce that I found a copy on ebay for $3.50 plus S&H! Whoo hoo! Maybe one day I’ll be a Grandma making legendary dishes for my offspring from this very book!...actually if I make too many of these dishes, I may not make it to grandma status!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cranky Water Bug

Last night was Isabelle’s third swimming class. I should note that Isabelle has been cutting some serious teeth for the past two weeks. From what we can assess, she is cutting four molars at one time! This would explain the weepy cryie cranky clingy child we have had for 14 days. And on these days I wonder HOW mom’s stay home with their kids all day when they are like this?? I know it’s horrible to say, but my nice quiet cubicle at work, with it’s soothing lights from the computer monitor and comfy office chair is a nice repast.

Anyway, she cried all Sunday night, on and off. She woke up on Monday with one of her loud screams and yelled and squealed till we dropped her at daycare. We picked her up, and the moment she saw us she started whining again and didn’t stop till her little body hit the water at swimming class at 7:05pm. Then she was happy child again.

She is getting good at swimming. She spashed and kicked and went under water and jumped from the wall and “swam” almost all by herself. She loved swimming and is fearless…mores so than even the weeks before! I had such a good time with her too! I was amazed at what she’s learned and retained!

Then the last drop of water was dried from her arms and legs, she started whining and kicking and crying again. Apparently, happy baby only exists at the YMCA.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I have been reading my friend’s blogs about the huge thanksgiving meals they lovingly prepared for their family and guests. That is so special. But, me? I am SOOO thankful that I am three generations down on the thanksgiving pecking order in my family. Meaning, my Grandma still cooks, my mom and aunts still help. I show up, bring the grandchild, and complain about the eight hours of football watching. That’s my job. I didn’t even make a pie this year. Priceless.

On another note, we got our Christmas decorations up. We started a Christmas tradition when we got married. We started collecting ornaments and things for the tree that mark important events or tell a story. For example, our star on the top of our tree we got on our honeymoon. We also have a cheesy statue of liberty bulb that I bought at the gift shop at the Statue…where Conrad proposed to me! And if you open up the box it’s stored in, the ticket stub from the first movie he ever took me to is in there also.

And from Isabelle’s first Christmas, we started a collection for her. We’ll start keeping them in a separate box and her job each year will be to carefully place her ornaments on the tree (or soundly avoid the whole event as she gets older…whatever the case may be!!) and when she gets older and starts her own family and her own tree, she can take her ornaments with her to start her own tree and traditions!

We turned on Christmas music and slowly assembled our fake evergreen. The bigger it got, the more excited Isabelle started to get. She could hardly contain her excitement as the lights when on and she ran from room to room saying “Ohhhhhhuuuuu.” As we put the bulbs on the tree we told her each and every story that went with each and every ornament, even though she was WAY more interested in swiping shinny gold globes and hiding them behind furniture. Every morning she runs from the bedroom to see if the tree is still there. Baring any more teething, I think this will be the best Christmas yet!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Foodie Event

I have always thought that foodies were a little weird. You know, those people who are constantly talking about the newest kitchen gadget or yapping about this great recipe or that one. But, it has come to my attention that I have become a foodie, and in fact, coming from a full blooded Virginian family, I am, at my core, a foodie. Hello. I’m Danielle. And I am a foodie.

That being said, some of you may not know that Milan, Ohio, population 600 and my home town, has one of the top 10 culinary schools in the world! Seriously! It’s called the Culinary Vegetable Institute. They have so many cool things going on, including Veggie U where they teach kids about eating healthy.

Knowing that my Grandma Margie is one of the south’s most original foodies, we got together and bought her a Cooking Class for her birthday, which naturally included a class for each of us. So Monday night my Aunt Beverly, Grandma, my mom, and my Aunt Brenda, and I experienced our first CVI cooking class.

Now, to clarify, this is a sit at a nice table and watch the chef cook your meal kind of class. There were probably almost 200 people there and the menu included Olivada Crostini, Bourbon Roasted Wild Turkey, and Pecan Pumpkin Cheesecake among many many other dishes. We had a great time and we even had a visit from Farmer Jones, the owner and operator who always wears signature blue overalls and red bow tie. And just for good measure, her is a picture of my own little Farmer Jones

Maybe next year we’ll get tickets to Paula Dean’s cooking class at VCI. One can only dream…

Monday, November 19, 2007

And They Lived Happily Ever After

Last week my best friend, Rachel, and her family came to visit us. Rachel and I have known each other since we were 17. We met through a mutual friend at a “Maniac’s Only” Retreat out in Oklahoma (I wonder if Rachel even remembers this??). Two kids from different sides of the country!

Later, we went on to the TM internship and then to ORU together. We have been best friends for over 13 years! And I guarantee that you will never meet two more opposite people in your whole life. God really did arrange our friendship to be an iron sharpens iron type of relationship.

Once we were walking around on campus and I was arguing some minute point (because that’s what Payne’s do for fun: argue) and Rachel stopped and yelled, “Are you going to die on EVERY hill? So, after much deep thought, I decided that Rachel was definitely right and tried from that point on (sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much), to choose my battles in relationships. So I credit any kind of discernment in that area of my life to Rachel, and my husband thanks her daily.

I don’t think this a few paragraphs in this blog will ever adequately describe my friend and how I feel about Rachel. She has always been that friend who sticks closer than a brother. We spent years laughing, crying, studying, praying, fighting, and ministering together. And through many moves, many states, and many countries, we have remained close friends. I had the privilege of bringing a “toast” at her wedding and I joked that when Rachel first met Mark and she introduced him to me, she called me after the meeting to ask me how “we” felt about Mark. Before we both married, “we” meant Rach and I!

In 2004, Rachel was working in Indonesia and we met in Bali to vacation for a week. Later that year, I met Conrad, and by the end of the next year we were both married! It continuously amazes me how much change a couple of years can bring..and now we are six!

It was always difficult to think about giving your best friend to another ‘best friend.’ But we knew it was God’s plan for our lives and such a joy! And luckily we married within months of each other, and even had kids not far apart. We have already started grooming Isabelle and Abraham for an arranged marriage. Yesterday Rachel was telling them a “story” about their future courtship as they “listened” intently and “lived happily ever after”.

Rachel married a wonderful husband, Mark, who adores her, and takes good care of her and Abraham. We asked Rachel and Mark to be Isabelle’s Godparents, because we know that no one will be more diligent in covering Isabelle in prayer than her future in-laws *wink* And we were honored that they asked us to be Abrahams last weekend too!
We love little Abraham. He’s already in our hearts. We prayed for him in church on Sunday, but Isabelle was crying, so our prayers were cut short. So I would like to pray a little blessing over Abe in our Blog:

Father, we pray that your Holy Spirit is in Abe’s life continuously. We ask that his ears always be open to your voice that speaks softly sometimes. That his eyes are always open to see the path that You have for him. That he leans on your Word to light that path.

We bless him with favor and ask that people be drawn to him, because they sense that he is, as his namesake was, “A friend of God.” We bless him with a heart of excellence, like Daniel. We bless him with wisdom, like Solomon. And a heart of boldness, like Paul.

Let this little life always be lived whole-heartedly for You.

Friday, November 16, 2007

15 Month Check Up

To give my child the benefit of the doubt, I should say, that Isabelle’s screaming and tandrem’s could be somewhat brought on by the fact that she got a fresh round of immunizations on Monday. I forgot to mention that, didn’t I?

Luckily, she didn’t remember the doctor’s office, and didn’t know what was coming, so it was somewhat uneventful until the actual deed. Dr. D had a nurse practioneer in training that day, so he took a little extra time to poke and prod my child and make notes about her to the student, while I stood by helplessly and Isabelle had enough sense to scream at the obvious feelings of being violated! I can’t say that I blame her for that one.

So, currently she is still just over 20 pounds (I was so sure she was safely in that front facing car seat!). 20 pounds and 11 ounces. She is 10th percentile on weight. And 30 inches long, which is 50th percentile on height. Tall and skinny…I’m guessing that that one may not stick with her lineage. Here’s hoping, for her sake, tho!

By the way, thanks for all of the great eating out advice! We will make sure to use all of your hard won wisdom! And I have been a little slow on the posting because our computer is currently slammed with spyware that basically froze the entire thing posting at home (wtih pictures!) has been a challenge!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Parental Hazing, Part 2

I believe we have officially entered The Toddler Years. And some friends have assured me that the Terrible starts before 2. I would like to go on record as saying, “I agree.” Last night, Isabelle and I dropped my best friend Rachel, her husband Mark, and son, Abraham off at the airport (We’ll talk more about that visit tomorrow).

On the way there, Isabelle had been working on perfecting her scream. You know the one. It’s where she opens her mouth and there are two seconds of nothing before the extremely loud and high pitched sound exits her mouth. I think the first two seconds are at a decibel only dogs can hear.

After she fitfully fell asleep and the airport drop was completed, we went downtown to meet Conrad and get some dinner. We have one of those great entertainment books where you “buy one, get one free” at half of the restaurants in town. We used to go out to eat and share a meal, now we each get our own, spend the same amount of money, and now eat twice as much. Good times.

So, we choose a trendy little Scottish bar type restaurant in the Short North area. Our thought was people drinking beer are loud. So they won’t be so sensitive to a toddler’s babble? I mean, come on, people drinking martini’s are quiet, not beer. Right?

So, with our logic firmly in place, we woke Isabelle up and took her in. But, as soon as we put her in the highchair, she let out one of those (now famous) high pitched screams. The music stopped. The forks went down. The talking stopped. And everyone looked in our direction, rolled their eyes, and thought, “Great, there goes my nice dinner. Why do people take children like that out in public?”

Before I go on, I should admit. I have been one of those people. I have thought those thoughts. I have rolled my eyes and wondered the same thing. What goes around, truly does come around….

Now, I calmly pick up my back-arched-mad-about-God-only-knows-what child and head out side. Now I am standing on the street in the Short North, as people pass by me, thinking the same things. And I, modern American parent, am in a dilemma. I cannot spank my child, someone is likely to call children’s services and take her away from us! I cannot let her throw a fit, NO one wants that. I can’t even go to the car with her, because it’s around the corner in a dark alley, and the keys are back in the restaurant.

So I have a stern chat with her (which goes completely over her head), praying under my breath for some kind of wisdom beyond my years, and she slowly calms down. I take her back in, where we quickly finish our meal, and determine to stick to suburban kid friendly (a.k.a LOUD) restaurants or HOME until WE learn to control our child.

All in a days work for parenting, I suppose…

Friday, November 09, 2007

Isabelle's Progress Report

Isabelle has several new “things” that she has learned. From watching her in the nursery at church with several other babies her age. I have concluded a few things. Physically she is not quite as mature as babies her age. Verbally, she’s way ahead. One little girl named Hannah, who easily has 10 pounds on Isabelle, will barrel over and take whatever she wants from Isabelle, sure on her feet, and with fine precision in her little fingers. Isabelle lacks some of the precision of these little tykes.

But the other babies Isabelle’s age seem to be saying, “Ba, ba, ma, blah, goo.” Isabelle says:
• Hi
• Bye
• Mama
• Dada
• Opa (Grandpa for my dad)
• Oma (Grandma for my mom)
• Papaw
• Ta Ta (Grandfather in Tamil)
• Amamamama (Amama is grandma in tamil)
• Woof Woof
• Meow
• One, two, three
• Uhhh ohhh
• Bible
• Jesus

Keep in mind, I’m not bragging (is that possible?) But I’m just reporting so that her grandparents and aunts and uncles can keep up!

She loves to sing and dance and does her own little motions to Jesus Loves Me, including hugging herself for “loves me” and clasping her hands together for “the bible tells me so.” They sing this every morning at daycare before they pray and take their bibles out to talk about Jesus.

Have I told you lately how much we love this kid?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Chickens & Candy

I realize that no respectable Christian would acknowledge Halloween, but some of my best memories as a child were trudging through crisp leaves to the neighbors house to trick or treat, dressing up in some creative homemade costume that my mom came up with (my favorite was a ballerina, while my sister was a housewife complete with pink housecoat, curlers, and a mud mask), and carving pumpkins. When I asked my parents why they let us celebrate Halloween when we were little, they answered that they didn’t know any better.

Even in India, they have some kind of similar Hindu celebration. When Isabelle and I were carving up our pumpkin last weekend, Conrad just sighed and said, “I can’t believe a child of mine is celebrating the devil’s birthday.” What? The devil’s birthday? I really have to research what that celebration in India is.

On Halloween night I was WAY excited to dress Isabelle up in a costume and take her out. Surely more excited than she was, because let’s face it, she just didn’t know what was going on. But when the kids started coming to the door in their costumes, she perked right up and got involved. She was a little upset about us giving, what she perceived as her candy, away. But she got over it, as soon as she got a little stash of her own.

Our neighborhood is unique in that all of the houses are close to the road with big front porches, well lit streets, and no cars parked on the street. It’s a lovely little place for children. It’s a quiet little street, until Halloween. About ten minutes till six you can see all of the neighbors sticking their heads out of their doors looking for the kids. By 6:30 you have a steady flow of kids and, if the weather is decent, everybody is sitting on their front porches handing out candy. Some people fully decorate their front porches, complete with spider webs and a fog machine. It is the one time a year that everyone get’s neighborly. It’s odd, I know…but fun!

I had a great time taking Isabelle door to door, we just did about half a street, went to visit a co-worker who lives a few houses down, and came back. Mommy was tuckered out from all of that trick or treating!

Monday, November 05, 2007

The Domestic Streak Continues

The part of my personality that I affectionately refer to as focused, others have been known to call “Obsessive” (We’ll leave compulsive component for another post) . Just like with the scrapbooking, I get on kicks and need to keep doing stuff, usually along the same vein, until it kind of works out of my system.

A few months ago it was scrapbooking. I work it all out of my system, then I need another “project.” Lately it’s been cooking. Spurred on by the massive influx of information on organic eating, and inspired by Emily’s canning experiences I have felt the need to take cooking at home to a new level.

So, in order to save you the anguishing experience of reading a drawn out post on my past week’s experience, I have put it in bullet points, the things that I have been up too over the past several days.
• Bought a bushel of apples
• Borrowed my mom’s corer/slicer/peeler (LOVE IT!)
• Bought canning jars
• Cored/Sliced/Peeled half a bushel of apples
• Make applesauce
• Made pie filling
• Made apple butter
• Made nifty labels to go on my jars
• Made homemade cinnamon raisin wheat bread
• Made spreadsheet of future canning projects and when the prospective fruit/vegitable will be harvested and where said fruit/vegitable can be obtained.
• Talked my dad into planting a huge garden next summer so I can can everything and save…ahhhh what $30??
• Googled great recipes for canning things that every family needs tons of, like Carmel Spice Pear Butter.
•Am currently letting juice drain from cheesecloth full of reduced blackberries to make my grandmother’s famous Seedless Blackberry jelly (hated by some and beloved by others!)
•Came up with an amazing recipe for deep fried apple rings for potential side business at local fairs and festivals.
Churned homemade butter to go with homemade bread and apple butter

Yes, I spent my entire weekend doing this. But no, it didn’t take the time you would think. On that note, I would like to thank some handy dandy kitchen gadgets that just don’t get the appreciation or attention that they really deserve. So thank you:
• Crockpot for that wonderful apple butter
• Food processer for taking the hours and hours out of churning butter
• Hand held blender for making pureeing stuff so easy, and
• Breadmaker for doing all the work for me!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Whistler

The other day I noted that whenever one of Conrad’s brothers talks to Isabelle on the phone, they whistle at her. I asked Conrad why this was. He said, “All Indian men whistle at babies.” Then I remembered that whenever we are at the Indian Grocery store the men there always stop and smile and whistle at her too. Consequently, I find Indian men much more friendly towards kids than American men.

As a matter a fact, they are much more family oriented than the American males. There is no “peter pan” mentality in India. You know, the “I wanna be a kid forever”mentality. And their permissive mama’s just cluck and say, “Well, boys will be boys.”

Actually there is a song in a Hindi movie (that’s in English, called “Bride & Prejudice”…I highly recommend!) that goes “No Life Without Wife.” And the moral of the song is that you really don’t have a life until you get a wife. This is why I recommend a good solid Christian Indian man to all of my single girlfriends. And good luck with that.

Back to my story, tho. When I was chatting with my husband about this observation, he said, “But Indian women do not whistle.” He noted that back when his family was visiting us I was walking around the house whistling and my sister-in-law, Sudha, and his mom stopped and looked at each other. I asked him what it means when a woman whistles and the best I could get out of him was something along the lines of it means you are a loose moraled woman. Oh no.

I kept thinking back to my two trips to India, all of the time Conrad’s family was here, and all of the time I probably whistled. I whistle a lot, I think. Oh no. And then I started to think what whistling means in American culture. The best I could come up with is that it indicates that you are care-free, or light hearted. What do you think? Do you whistle too?