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.

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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!

Celebrate Good Times!

Well . . . I did it. I turned thirty. And, you know, I don’t feel any different. I don’t feel older or wiser, more capable or mature, less prone to worry or doubt. I don’t know exactly what I want to be when I grow up nor whether the things that fulfill me today will still fulfill me tomorrow. I discovered that it was not some magic number that would change my life and my outlook and the way that people saw me. It was just another day and I am just me. All the things that led to this point in my existence are as valuable (or invaluable) as they were the day before and they still make me who I am whether I am defined by the numbers 2-9 or 3-0. These may seem like silly realizations to those of you who have never been bothered by aging or plagued by the fear of leaving a decade behind, but for me they are profound. And I am relieved to have accepted them and moved on to embracing what the next decade has to offer.

I was extremely lucky to be able to celebrate the event by taking a day trip to Memphis with my family. And despite the freezing rain all day, we had a wonderful time. I felt completely blessed to be surrounded by the people who love me honestly and simply for who am and who value me more than anyone else. Here are a few glimpses of what that love looks like and why I am not afraid to begin the next decade with these boys by my side!

Experiencing the Peabody Ducks up close and personal!

Me and my sweetheart!

Magic!

I'm not sure what the tongue was about, but he LOVED riding the trolley (aka train) around downtown Memphis.

And so did we!

"Nostalgia on Beale St." - need I say more?

I DO know what the tongue was about in this one. Rock on DUDE!

My sweet little man rocking out on his "guitar."

As soon as we left the Gibson factory, this is what happened. He is clearly not ready to skip naps yet. Even with all the cold rain and noise of Beale Street, sleep overcame him.

A beautiful picture on a not so beautiful day.

20 Minutes later, he got to wake up to THIS - an authentic blues band at BB Kings! Needless to say, he was impressed.

As was Mama!

Sitting behind U2's drums at Sun Studios! He was pretty stoked, although somewhat disappointed that he couldn't play them.

All in all, a lovely day full of great memories to ring in the next 30 years! Cheers!

Decking the Halls . . . And Our Hearts

When you think “holidays”, what comes to mind? When we were kids we thought of school breaks and Santa, new toys and snow, sugar cookies and cousins and fun! As adults we tend to think about deadlines, budgets, endless shopping lists, travel, chaotic schedules, flu season, and  . . . oh yeah, if we have time, fun. But no matter what the stresses of  the holiday season, there is something magical about that first day when you pull out all the decorations, put on Christmas music for the first time, light some candles and stay in for a quiet evening with the family decking the halls.

It is moments like these that make you forget the cynicism that you’ve built up over the year and believe, even if only for a little while, that everyday life can be enchanting and the mundane can be magical.

Once again, it is the awe and wonder of a child that enhances our realization that we all tend to look at the world through very smudgy, care-worn glass. And, every now and then, we need to take them off and see, through a fresh pair of eyes, that tiny lights and tinsel are amazing.

So with a renewed sense of gratitude and thanksgiving imparted upon us last weekend as one holiday passed, ringing in the next, let us cling to these moments and remember that the holidays are about so much more than stress . . . not just for the children, but for us too. Let’s deck, not just the halls, but our hearts with laughter and joy this holiday season.

Dear Photograph

I recently discovered a blog so stunning in its representation of humanity, so beautiful in its display of memories, and so poignant in its confrontation of the past, that I decided to feature it here. Its idea aligns so well with that of nostalgia and not waiting until tomorrow to appreciate today. The blog is called Dear Photograph, and it’s concept is to “take a picture of a picture from the past in the present.”

Dear Photograph, At the time it was not common for a man to walk behind a pram. I’m still proud of my father. ~Eva Willemier Westra

People contribute photos from all over the world and each contribution is sent with a caption that is a message to the photo’s subjects or a commentary about the time period in which it was taken. The creator of Dear Photograph, 21-year-old Taylor Jones from Ontario, came up with the concept while sifting through some old snap shots of his own. He spontaneously took a picture of one of the photos he found which was taken in the very spot where he sat. And the idea was born. The project is so remarkable because it inspires people to not only revisit old memories, but to physically revisit the location of those memories, forcing them to travel to the past to confront it or embrace it, whichever the case may be. It puts the past in the context of the present and acknowledges what is gone and what has taken its place.

Dear Photograph, It’s nice to know that we loved each other once upon a time. ~Sam

If you spend even a few minutes at this site, you will be struck with an overwhelming desire to call your parents or send a letter to your grandpa. It is painfully obvious why it’s popularity skyrocketed to 1.2 million visitors within 3 weeks of its creation. It is breathtaking. Hope you are as mesmerized by it as I am.

Dear Photograph, For one brief moment, this murky little duck pond became the most beautiful place on earth. ~Greg