Makeovers and Making Memories

I am coming up on the one year anniversary of the birth of this blog! I am extremely humbled and grateful for the amount of people who have consistently read and contributed to it and helped it to become a successful and fulfilling endeavor. That being said, I feel I do need to apologize for my somewhat inconsistent writing schedule of late. I decided that, on the eve of such an important anniversary, the look and feel of Nostalgia In The Making needed a bit of a makeover. So, much of the time that I would normally have devoted to writing has been devoted instead to developing concepts and ideas for the redesign. Be sure to keep an eye out for the upcoming fresh new look!

But until then, I thought I’d do a quick photo update. Summer has definitely arrived early in the deep south this year and it is absolutely intoxicating. We have been filling so many of these lovely afternoons with quintessentially summer activities. Hopefully these little snapshots of youth and enthusiasm and beauty will brighten your day!

Aiden, beside himself with glee at the kid's carnival we attended this past weekend. I mean, who wouldn't be with an Iron Man shirt, a face-painted super hero mask, and a jump house?

Learning to ride his new 16" bike! With a little help from Daddy.

He's a fast learner :)

Jammin' with Daddy at "The Shop." This was their first time to just play around together without being focused on teaching or watching one another. It was pretty amazing!

Our first time this summer to play in the awesome fountain at the shopping center where Daddy works. It was twilight and the weather was still beautiful for it. He had such a good time!

Watching him play made me long for those magical days of childhood when we have so little inhibitions and we naturally live in the moment. It also made me grateful, again, to have such a vibrant son to re-live these moments with.

Spending some quiet time in the morning rediscovering his old toys in Owen's room. I can't wait to see them playing together!

Sitting down to our family fish fry after a LONG, relaxing day of fishing at the reservoir. It is an amazingly satisfying feeling to catch, clean, and cook your own food. My boys were pretty pleased as well.

The Versatile Blogger Award

Well, I’d like to thank the Academy… I mean Stephicakes, one of the most recent jewels I’ve found in my blog surfing, for nominating me for this award. It is good to know that someone I enjoy reading enjoys reading my work as well. And not only enjoys reading it, but thinks I am versatile in my choice/style of writing topics. This is not the first time I’ve received this nomination, but, not knowing how seriously to take it and always being a bit leery of the facebook-type fill-in-the-blank and pass-it-along publicity stunts, I never followed through. But since I felt flattered when I received it then, as I do now, I figured I’d flatter a few other people and pass it along. So here goes:

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post.

2. Share 7 things about yourself.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers.

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award.

Seven Things About Myself:

1.) I am hopelessly in love with three men at the same time! Scandalous, I know! OK, I’ll admit it, two of them are men-in-the-making… but still. Anyone who has read any of my blog probably knows that I’m referring to my hubby and my two boys, the second of which is scheduled to make his debut in only a few short weeks. I ADORE being a mother, even if I’m not always very good at it. It has been one of the most fulfilling (and dang difficult) endeavors I have ever undertaken. And the lessons I have learned in the process are often the topics of this blog.

2.) I aspire to one day be a published author. I know, I know… what consistent and dedicated blogger doesn’t? I’m not entirely sure that I will accomplish this goal some day, but it would be amazing and wonderful if I did. I hope to write children’s books primarily and am constantly toying with new ideas.

3.) One of my biggest motivators in writing this blog (or one day attempting to get published) is the desire to leave a written legacy to my children and grandchildren. To pass on tidbits of wisdom and humility, humor and beauty, and small vignettes of what life looked like when I was young (OK, maybe not so young anymore, but youngER).

4.) Although it is a significant battle sometimes, I REFUSE to give in to cynicism. I prefer instead to believe the best of people and let them continually surprise me; to not always plan for the worst case scenario, but rather the best; and to not let the things that so easily bog us down take a more prominent seat to those that are quietly beautiful.

5.) I LOVE shopping! More specifically bargain hunting. I can’t really explain it, but it gives me a rush of satisfaction and relieves stress in ways very little else can.

6.) I adore cooking and frequently create my own recipes. I see it as a creative outlet, building dishes that are unique and interesting and satisfying out of sometimes surprising ingredients. I rarely use, or perhaps I should say follow, a recipe unless it’s as a springboard for ideas or to remind myself of something lovely I created in the past. My cooking is experimental and, although not all of these experiments are a success, I like to share the ones that are with you, my faithful readers. I imagine that you all jump to cook my most recent recipe post as soon as it comes up, and although I know this is probably not the case, a girl can dream, right ;)

7.) I host a book club once a month that has proven to be an excellent outlet for intellectually stimulating adult conversation that does not center around family and children and everyday life. It has also kept me consistently reading new and surprising books – something that has always been very important for my development both as a person and as a writer.

8.) BONUS tidbit – Although I love being a mother, I HATE being pregnant. Perhaps this is only relevant to me right now because I am enormous and uncomfortable, but it’s true. I also know many of you would gasp and think, “Pregnancy is beautiful and magical, etc. Enjoy every minute!” To those people I want to say, “You are very lucky if that was your experience, and more power to you! Pop out as many kids as you please and embrace the magic!” But for me, this will most likely be my last pregnancy.

So there are just a few things about me you may have already known, or perhaps you didn’t. This is definitely not a comprehensive list, nor is it written in any particular order other than the order in which they popped into my mind. If you are intrigued and would like to know more about me, keep reading . . . I am certainly not shy or private in my writing.

As far as who I’d like to pass this award on to, here is an incomplete list. I don’t want to pick 15 simply because I have to, so I’m picking the ones that I actually consistently read and am personally inspired by:

Life As I Know It – a blog about the many hats of a mom.

Broadside – a blog by a writer in NY who’s life inspires me and whose writing is always intriguing.

Doodlemum – a charming sketch blog that always hits very close to home.

Pomp And Circumstance – a design AND fashion blog, how can you beat that?

Utterly Smitten – tidbits of design and daily life.

The Cotton Boll Conspiracy – a history blog with anecdotes about history that are often surprising.

Redesigning Sarah – a design blog that is always beautiful and a great source for inspiration.

Xanax or Running Shoes? – an honest take on life as a working mom.

Chai Thoughts – my friend’s beautiful blog about life, photography, family, and inspiration.

Dear Photograph – I can’t even summarize this one. You must go check it out.

Jeeze, Julia! – a delightfully whimsical view into one woman’s life and style.

2 Sleeping Babies – a friend’s blog about motherhood and all that it entails.

With a Little Pixie Magic – another friend’s blog who writes about a little of everything in life that just takes a little magic.

Hope you find all of these blogs as intriguing as I do, and show everyone a little love while you’re there!

A Mini-Vacation In A Day

There are some days that you feel like you’ll never recover from. And then there are days that epitomize the recovery that weeks of stress require. Perhaps the later is more rare, but it also leaves a more lasting impression on your psyche. Friday was just such a day for me. It was a mini-vacation in a day without ever leaving town – or even a 5 mile radius of where I work – and it has invigorated my spirit and refreshed my mind and body in a way that I haven’t experienced in some time. I confessed to my husband when I returned home, that despite a few instances of describing my wonderful family to those who inquired, I didn’t really think of them, or anyone else, at all. It was a day just for me and I reveled in it.

It began with an early departure from work to attend a “team-building” event that had the potential to be either amazing or awkward. Thankfully it turned out to be delightful. The company took our whole department to the local Viking cooking school and had us divide into groups to take a cooking class, at the end of which we got to enjoy the fruit of our labor. The menu we were preparing was entitled “Chicago Steakhouse” and was comprised of grilled rib-eye steaks over a bed of sautéed spinach and mushrooms with a side of bacon wrapped scallops atop homemade hash-browns and spicy apricot glaze, a delicious salad with fresh vinaigrette, and a heavenly apple tart for desert. There was wine and appetizers, lots of laughter and camaraderie, and, in the end, the utter enjoyment of a job very well done.

After stuffing myself to my heart’s content and taking a few extra minutes to browse the Viking gift shop, it was on to the next event of the day – my one hour prenatal massage at Aqua Day Spa, courtesy of my husband for our anniversary. Anyone whose ever been pregnant, and even most of you who haven’t, know that there’s not much better than calming your aching and disproportionate body with this kind of relaxation. The physical and emotional therapy of this section of my day needs little explanation or embellishment, so I’ll just say that it was lovely!

I went straight from my massage appointment to their salon next door and got my first haircut in over six months. And this wasn’t just any haircut. It was a masterpiece by a hairdresser who took an hour and a half with me, carefully and meticulously getting everything just the way he, and I, wanted it to be to make sure that I “wowed” my hubby when I got home. I love my hair long, but too often I feel that I sacrifice style for length and it just hangs loosely around my face with very little in the way of interest or fashion. This time, however, he managed to leave my length and still create a style that had movement and life and intrigue. I was SO pleased. He actually apologized to me for taking so long, and I assured him that anyone who was willing to take a such time to pamper or beautify me, was more than welcome to do so and I was quite grateful!

After all of this, I returned home to find that my boys had had a fantastic day together and had made lasagna and salad for supper which I didn’t have to lift a finger to prepare or clean up. As I shared with them the details of my day, I am sure that every feature of my face and the deepest parts of my eyes confessed more adequately than my lips ever could that… I was myself again. I was happy. And I was reminded, once again that life does not consist wholly of the tasks and stresses that claim so much of our time.

Mmmm – Don’t Mind If I Do!

It’s been a bit too long since I posted a recipe – most likely because it’s been a bit too long since I cooked anything that I got really excited about. It’s not that I haven’t been cooking. It’s just that exhaustion, pregnancy, the terrible twos, and extensive home projects have kept me pretty close to the basics in the kitchen lately – sticking to what’s quick, easy, and healthy. Sadly even this last criteria often gets sacrificed for the sake of the first two. But Saturday night, thanks to some ideas planted in my mind by my friend Maddy, inspiration found me again and developed into a night of family cooking, photography, fun, and feasting. The result – not so quick and easy, but delectable…

Salmon Cake Melts

1.) Bake the Salmon – I actually used the leftovers of a large filet of salmon that I had baked a couple of night prior, but if you are not so fortunate to have this step already completed, you will need to bake the Salmon in the oven first. I always buy my fish frozen (for cost efficiency) and follow the instructions on the package for temperature and time as this will vary depending on the thickness and size of the filet. If you buy it fresh, ask some advice from the market, or Google it and use your intuition. I baked the original filet with a cream sauce on the top that I believe enhanced the flavor of the salmon cakes later.  The mixture was of of equal parts mayo (I use canola mayo) and Parmesan cheese, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp garlic powder, and freshly ground black pepper. The amounts will vary depending on the size of the filet but the overall consistency should be thick enough to practically ice the fish, not pour over it.

2.) Prepare the Bread/Setting for the Salmon Cakes – Using a loaf of french bread, slice it diagonally into the largest possible slices. Butter both sides of the slices (I use heart-smart margarine) and broil on a cookie sheet until barely golden. Top each slice with a small amount of grated mozzarella cheese and a slice of fresh tomato. Set aside.

3.) Make the Salmon Cakes – As soon as the french bread is finished broiling, put about 5 slices of regular, inexpensive bread into the oven to broil with nothing on them. Broil them dark and crispy as they will be crumbled to use for bread crumbs. When they are done, crumble them as small as possible and set half aside. (You can also use ready-made bread crumbs to save some time. I just didn’t have any, so I went the made-from-scratch route.) Take the salmon you baked previously and flake into small pieces with a fork, carefully removing the skin first. In a bowl, combine half of the bread crumbs (about 1 to 1.5 cups), 2 beaten eggs (I use an egg substitute), 1.5 tsp of dill, 1.5 tsp of parsley, 2 tsp of dried onion, 1/4 tsp of ground black pepper, and 1 tsp of lemon juice. Add the salmon to the mixture and knead with your hands as you would a meat loaf. Be sure to remove your rings first or they may smell like fish for days ;). Once well-mixed, form into patties approximately the size of the french bread slices. Coat each patty with the remaining bread crumbs on all sides. Heat about a 1/4 inch of canola oil in a skillet over med-high heat. Fry the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side till they are browned and crispy. Allow to dry on a paper towel.

4.) Put It All Together – Place each salmon cake on top of a slice of prepared french bread. Top each with a slice of Swiss cheese (I use fat-free Swiss, but I’m sure the real thing is even better.) Broil in the oven over low heat just long enough to melt and slightly brown the cheese. Serve with a fresh vegetable such as steamed broccoli or asparagus on the side.

5.) Sit down and enjoy!

As always, if you try this recipe, I’d love to hear how it went! Tell me what the family thought, what modifications you made, or any ideas you might have. And share it with your friends! Bon Appetite!