Gobble, Gobble

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Another Thanksgiving is upon us and while we should all take time to reflect on those things we are or should be thankful for, there’s no escaping the fact that so much of this holiday will be focused on or around the dining room table.

I got off easy this year. My contribution to the family meal will be met with a simple cauliflower dish. I plan to make a cauliflower ‘mac n cheese’ concoction which has been a big hit in my household.  Here’s how to make it:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Season the water with salt.
  • Spray an 8×8  baking dish with vegetable oil spray
  • Cook the florets of 1 head of cauliflower in the boiling water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well and pat between several layers of paper towels to dry.
  • Transfer the cauliflower to the baking dish and set aside.
  • Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan, and whisk in 2 oz. of cream cheese and 1 1/2 teaspoons of dijon mustard until smooth. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of  shredded sharp cheddar cheese, salt, pepper and garlic (to taste) and whisk just until the cheese melts, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, pour over the cauliflower, and stir to combine. Top with an additional 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese and bake until browned and bubbly hot, about 15 minutes.
  • Serve.

In years past, when I’ve been on turkey duty, I’ve relied on Giada’s citrus-stuffed recipe which results in a moist and flavorful bird.  It’s my go to recipe whenever asked to provide the main course. If only she would show how to carve the darn thing. I make the family leave the kitchen so they aren’t witness to the carnage when I attempt it. Here’s a link to that recipe.

Turkey with Herbes de Provence and Citrus

But my most vivid Thanksgiving memories are courtesy of my maternal grandmother whose house hosted most of our turkey dinners when I was growing up. The one thing I most looked forward to was the Thanksgiving giblet gravy which was made only for this particular meal. It’s a southern variation using the giblets of the turkey and hard boiled eggs and it was all I could do not to drink it right out of the gravy boat. 

It’s been a while since I have had it. I may have to rectify that next year.  Here’s that recipe.

  1. Remove liver from giblets and refrigerate.

  2. Place the remaining giblets into a saucepan and cover with 4 cups cold water; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the giblets for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. At this point add the liver to the saucepan and simmer for another 30 minutes.

  3. Place a mesh strainer or colander over a bowl. Drain the giblets and set the liquids aside to use in the gravy, if needed. Let the giblets cool. Remove the meat from the neck and chop with the rest of the meat

  4. Melt 4 TBs of butter in a heavy saucepan and stir in 4 TBs of flour. Cook and stir for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the roux just barely begins to turn golden.

  5.  If you don’t have drippings from a roasted turkey or chicken, or if you only have a small amount, add the giblet broth or chicken or turkey stock to make 2 cups. Slowly stir in the drippings and/or broth into the roux. Add 1/2 cup of milk or half-and-half. Continue cooking and stirring until thickened.

  6. Taste and season the gravy with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

  7. Stir in two chopped hard-cooked eggs and chopped giblets and serve.

  8. The recipe makes about 3 cups of old-fashioned gravy. Enjoy!

     

To all my readers and clients, may you have a Happy Thanksgiving! We hope to see you after the weekend!

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Note; Home Video Studio of Mount Dora will be closed from Thursday Nov 22 through Sunday Nov 25. We will reopen at 9:30am on Monday, Nov 26.

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What’s Important

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It is sad to say but sometimes it takes a tragedy to get us to recognize the true value of things.  We often take things for granted until faced with the real possibility that we just might lose them.

I’m working with a woman whose parents own two homes just outside of Paradise, CA which has been devastated by the wildfires that are ravaging that part of the country. Thankfully, their parents heeded the evacuation orders and they are safe but they have not been able to return to check on their properties. They are preparing themselves for the possibility that everything they own may have been lost to the fire.

The one saving grace is that a few years ago, the parents shipped to my client a box filled with Betamax tapes. They are old, unlabeled and nobody seemed to know what’s on them or what to do with them. My client has just been storing the box for her parents all this time. Suddenly, due to the recent events, she has realized exactly what she had been sitting on. That box potentially contains the only evidence that exists of the long life her family has shared together. It has gone from just one more piece of clutter under foot to the most precious possession in her house.

I feel privileged to unlock the memories that may be stored on these tapes and deliver them back to the family. I hope it provides some solace or comfort for the family as they prepare to face whatever they find awaits them.

Here’s a link to a site that describes how people can best help victims of the California wildfires.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

I Work In a Time Machine

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One of the best things about my business is the environment in which I work. It is kind of like stepping into a time capsule every day. Our studio may not be as snappy as a modified DeLorean fitted with a working  flux capacitor, but it often provides the same effect… we constantly find ourselves going “back to the future.”

This past week we spent a lot of time converting old audio recordings to CDs and mp3s. It was a blast from the past hearing a high school graduation ceremony – class of ’63. The students who graduated that year will be celebrating at their 55th reunion this year. I’m sure they would be mesmerized to hear their thoughts and dreams for the future (now the past) expressed on audiotape so many years ago. Thanks to our work, they’ll be able to.

I also had the pleasure of listening to one of my client’s parents encouraging her to talk while she was just a babe. She now has children of her own and will be going through that process again, this time taking the role of the parent teaching the child.

Time is a treasured commodity at Home Video Studio and a day doesn’t go by that we don’t recognize the importance of the many moments that have been recorded for posterity. There’s a reason we, as a people, do it. And there’s a reason we all keep schlepping boxes of these treasured memories around with us from house to house… even when we no longer have the equipment that can play them.

As the title of my blog says… Memories Matter. And because they do, we stand ready to help you ensure that your recorded memories can stand against the test of time. So instead of keeping all those memories locked away on archaic media that can no longer be accessed, bring them to us and give us the opportunity to deliver your past back to the future.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

You Say Po-tay-to, I Say Po-tah-to… Turns Out We Both Like French Fries

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It is sad to say… but we live in a world that is becoming increasingly polarized. And that is a shame. Why must our focus be on the differences that keep us apart when there is so much that we have in common? As Yul Brenner once declared in The King and I, “It is a puzzlement.”

Four years ago, when I started my Home Video Studio business, I can’t say that I expected it to teach me any major life lessons that would affect my perspective of the world and its denizens. So the epiphany came as a bit of a surprise.

People would come to my studio with tapes or films or audio recordings… and they would ask me to digitalize them. And as I accepted their order, they took the time to tell me about the memories they wanted to preserve. As I listened to them, I noticed a familiar anomaly that occurred time and time again. Within their stories, I started recognizing details that were familiar to me. Experiences that I shared. Locations that I have visited. Emotions I have felt.

As more people came into the studio to share their memories with me, I started expecting their memories to somehow intersect with mine. Their ancestors came from Italy… so did my wife’s. They just retired from a career in public education… my father was a public school teacher and my mother once edited the county public school bulletin. They were military… my grandfather was a Navy Rear Admiral, my father was an Army Air Force bombardier, my son is currently serving in the Coast Guard as a diver.

The point I am making is that if we decide to look for the commonalities between us, we will find them… regardless of the socio-political sides that we may take. It is far healthier to draw people to us because we relate to their experiences than to shun or keep them from us because we disagree with some of their beliefs.  Po-tay-to, Po-tah-to… it doesn’t matter how you say it… it still makes a tasty french fry.

Memories matter. They unite us like no other force can. Start sharing yours with others. Who knows? Maybe it will start a trend that will lead to a lessening of the rancor and the bellicose posturing that is accepted as “normal behavior” in today’s world. If you have a better suggestion on how to resume a more civil society… I’m all ears.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio of Mount Dora specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Gone Too Soon

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Our clients will often compliment us on our customer service and the friendly atmosphere that infuses our studio. What they don’t seem to understand is that whatever “vibe” they are getting from our studio most often originates from them.  We genuinely love hearing the stories of our customers… both the experiences they’ve had and the memories they’ve accumulated. The more open and animated they are in telling them, the more excited we get in hearing them. Our “customer service” mindset is firmly based in a curiosity and interest in the lives of the people who cross our threshold. We are honored that they have selected us to help preserve the memories they have made.

This past week, we have been particularly touched in getting to know one of our clients – the wife and partner of a true country music star who has sadly departed this earth. We have been helping her prepare an edited compilation of his many television appearances to be used in a memorial service. While the situation that brought us together is a sad one, learning of her husband’s life and legacy has been joyful.

I don’t profess to know what mystical element propels performers into the rarified stratosphere of super-stardom. It can’t just be talent because, if it were, this gentleman would have topped any A-list. He certainly spent decades performing with many who were considered to be the best of the best.  His winning personality coupled with a remarkable musical talent allowed Ronnie Prophet to carve out a place in the country music ethos. He has left a legacy that will not be soon forgotten.

I did not have the pleasure of ever meeting the man. But after meeting his wife and hearing of the life he lived – both on and off the stage – I feel a genuine loss in having missed that opportunity. I look forward to rectifying that loss in the next life.

Rest in Peace, Ronnie Prophet.


Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

 

Now, What Did I Come In Here For?

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When you reach a certain age, you have probably have had this experience: You’re sitting in one room of your house when you suddenly get up and walk into another room for a reason… but when you get to that room, you find you can’t remember why you went there.

Memory is sometimes fickle like that. One moment you can recall with absolute clarity the finest details of your past and other times the memory you are searching for seems just out of reach like it is hidden behind a veil. You know it’s there but you are unable to reach out and pull back the curtain to reveal it. It is frustrating.

Having your memories stored on devices that can no longer be played is just as frustrating. All the events, occasions, and family times that were important enough to record for future reference were supposed to be available to us when we reached the future. But technology had other plans.

Fortunately, there is a way to retrieve those memories and bring them with us to our current day and time. If you have a 8mm or Super 8 film but no projector to play them on; or a VHS, hi-8, or mini-dv videotape but no working tape player; if you have boxes of 35mm slides but the irreplaceable bulb in your projector is dead; or you have photos so faded you can’t see the people in them clearly; or if you found an old audiotape that you don’t recognize or a vinyl album you vaguely remember but lack the equipment that can play them… there is a solution.

My company, Home Video Studio specializes in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of old analog media. Bring us a 8mm film, we’ll give you back that footage on a DVD or a computer file that you can play today. We can even offer you the ability to stream that home movie to your smart phone or tablet. Same with all those videotapes you haven’t seen in decades. And as far as the slides, photos and audio recordings go, not only do we give you the access once again to view or listen to those memories, our digital products take up much less space than their bulky analog counterparts.

Your memories deserve to be preserved and protected. More importantly, they ought to be remembered. At Home Video Studio, we make sure they can.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio stand ready to help you protect your memories. And right now, we are in the midst of our Christmas in July sale, offering up to 40% off many of our transfer services. Call 352-735-8550 for more info or visit our website.

Viva La Similarité

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I have been asked repeatedly, “Do you write your own blogs or did you hire someone?” When I assure them that I write all my own stuff they quickly follow up with “Where do you find the time?” or “Where do you get the ideas on what to write about?”

If you haven’t picked up on the theme of my blog as yet, it is based on a simple truism. Memories matter. Each one of us is a walking encyclopedia of experiences. We wake up, experience life, go back to sleep. And repeat day after day.

When I started my Home Video Studio business, people started bringing their memories to me for preservation. And it struck me, in an age when our differences are continually being magnified or exploited in what appears to me to be an orchestrated attempt to keep walls or divides between us, how similar our memories are. Despite all the cultural, racial, economic, philosophical, political, or gender specific labels that can be used to highlight our differences, our memories seem to prove the opposite. They unite us in a deeply personal and profound way.

We tend to record the same kind of events and for the same reasons. Our memories spark the same emotions within us; bring the same smile to our lips; cause the same tears to be shed. When a customer comes in and tells me what memory he or she is looking to have preserved, it is never hard for me to relate. I have the same kind of memories and I know how important they are to me.

Most if not all of my blog posts come directly from a shared memory that I have been reminded of by working with or talking to my clients. I never seem to have writers block because we all have a vast memory vault from which to pull treasures.

Yes, we are all different because we are all unique individuals. But within our differences there is plenty of common ground upon which we can stand. Share a memory with someone today. You may be surprised to see where it will lead.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of films, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Cry Me A River

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Tears are shed relatively freely in our studio. Most of the times they are happy tears… but not always. Memories can dredge up emotions and can bring back the pain of loss or hurt. Our clients know they will always find a compassionate ear or empathetic shoulder on which to lean at such times. And we stock a large supply of tissue.

We’ve seen octogenarians shed tears watching footage of their now adult grandchildren as kids and being reminded of how quickly life has passed.

We’ve had people break down simply by hearing the long forgotten voice of a family member who had departed this earth decades earlier.

We’ve helped families plan memorial video presentations for their loved ones even as they grapple with the deepest emotional pain they’ve ever experienced.

We get it. We understand. And we are right there for you. Because as sometimes painful as they are, memories do matter.  Because with the passage of time, our sadness will eventually fade. And when it does, it is the memories that we have worked to save or preserve that will bring us comfort, joy, and happiness. Sometimes, it feels like they are the only things that can.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Batman

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Did I ever tell you all about my bat encounter?  It was probably not one of my finest moments.  Picture me, alone in a house. Watching television in a pair of gym shorts and not much else. It was summer. And hot.

I noticed a smudge on the fireplace bricks. Never noticed it before. I went up to wipe it off but as I reached out my hand, it flew away.

My scream broke a decibel level, I’m sure. Last time I heard anything like that come out of my mouth was at the end of Carrie when (SPOILER ALERT) Carrie’s hand reached out of the grave.

My mind came to grips with the situation. I had a bat in the house. I was the only one home. It was up to me to defend the homestead. I needed to gear up.

Protect my feet – cowboy boots. Protect my hands –  winter gloves. Wait a minute… didn’t I hear that bats like to nest in hair? On goes the cowboy hat.  Now I look like the consummate bat hunter. Gym shorts, cowboy boots, big insulated gloves, bare chested, with a stetson to complete the outfit.

And to capture the flying demon?  What else… a tennis racquet. Did I mention that I was alone in the house?  Thank goodness. There would be no photographic evidence of any of this.

I stalked the creature around our living room and for a terrifying quarter of an hour it was man against flying mammal. I swung my tennis racquet with wild abandon any time it fluttered in my direction, looking every bit the weekend tennis player that I was. Suddenly, out of frustration, I flung the racquet up in disgust and accidentally clipped the bat which zigged when it should have zagged. It crashed to the floor.

I quickly placed a trash can on top of it and sat back, spent.  Now what? I caught a bat. I knew I had only stunned it. So what do I do?

I settled on the humane option. I took the trash can out to the patio, removed the lid and let the bat fly free into the night sky. But I can’t help thinking that while I had a funny story to tell my friends, the bat had a much better tale to tell – the story about a near-naked cowboy tennis player with big hands who in a moment of compassion, let him go.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.

Memory Lapses

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Hey, it happens to all of us. We take great pains to record the special moments of our lives. Then we tuck them away to make sure they are kept safe and secure. After 30 or 40 years, we take them back out only to find that we can’t watch them any more because the technology we used back then is now obsolete.

So we find someone like Home Video Studio who can convert our old memories to a digital form that will play on today’s equipment. All well and good but we’re not out of the woods yet. As we are watching those memories play back… the ones we haven’t seen for decades… we discover that we don’t recognize some of the people or places that appear on the screen.

It happens more often than you think. I had an elderly couple watch some of their 8mm film that I transferred for them. The footage opened with a pair of toddlers under a Christmas tree. I could see their confused expressions. They looked at me and actually asked if perhaps I was showing them someone else’s film. They were so adamant that I began to doubt myself. I doubled checked but it absolutely was their footage.  As we continued to watch, they eventually realized that the toddlers on the screen were their own children — just 60 years younger then they are now.  It turns out, my clients had never seen that particular 8mm film before. It was shot but never viewed. Tears were certainly shed once we recognized what we were seeing.

Now sometimes, the mysteries are never solved. No worries. I’ve had people come back to me and ask me to edit sections of their movies in order to remove people or places that no longer have any relevance to their lives. Once the film or video has been digitalized, editing that footage is relatively easy to accomplish. We have the ability to shape your memories to your exact specifications, allowing you to enjoy your past exactly the way you want to remember it.

Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through the digitalization of film, videotapes, audio recordings, photos, negatives, and slides. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit our website.