Monday, December 19, 2011

Where there's fire there's smoke

Where there's fire there's smoke. The hazy special effects are courtesy of the fire pit at Thanksgiving Point. We all enjoyed driving through the Christmas lights, then visiting the reindeer.Dawson is modelling the 3D glasses.

Huddled around the fire pit by the reindeer at Thanksgiving Point

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Three boys sleep over for the weekend

Dawson is reading to his little brothers in our bed. It started with one - then 2 - then 3 up on the bed with us until Mark had to leave to make room Sunday morning. We had the boys for the weekend to give their mom and dad a rest with new baby.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shopping with Roman

Could this boy be any cuter! Every store we went into people commented,"He's so cute!" We are at Eddie Bauer where he could be one of their manikins if they sold children's sweaters.Tyfani's cute pregnant belly is in the background.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

My candidate to play Major Pettigrew

At book club we played "who should play the characters in the movie?" We read "Major Pettigrew's Last Stand" which I highly recommend. We were allowed to choose an actor living or dead for each character in the book. I chose David Niven to play the major. I know I am right and here is the picture to prove it.

Friday, October 7, 2011

I sure hope my Canadian family still looks at these pictures

Cherrios were the greatest breakfast item ever invented. Nico's dad continues to teach his baby sons the important skill of drinking the rest of the milk from the bowl.

Nico came to visit - we went outside on the deck to see the deer or as he said "Dog". Apparently every animal is a dog.
I try to post a weekly picture for my far-away family. They aren't much for facebook these Canucks and really I don't need 200 people looking at every picture I take of my adorable grandchildren. I know they don't comment, but they better be looking or I can save myself a lot of time.Yes, you know who you are - email me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The new deck

Mark finished our new deck this week. We had a little porch and now we have room for outdoor dining and seating for our family on the deck.I love that Trex stuff - so nice to walk on.

Monday, September 5, 2011

"Boy is completely hidden by giant birthday gift bag!"

Roman turned 3 and it's possible that grandma gave him a gift that was too big to open or even see over. Look at those cute little bare feet! Mom and dad notice dad's painting in the background on the entryway hall in a place of honor.It's the only painting hung in the new house so far.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goose and her boys looking at the fish

Goose, Roman and Finn are looking at the gold fish in Finn's backyard pond. It is so funny to watch this threesome play together. Goose thinks she is just one of the kids.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Deer Damn-age

Our deer are darling and damnable. The eat the flower right off the top of "deer resistant" plants and for good measure pull out new plants before they can even root. Even my rose bushes get new leaves eaten and that's a trick with all those thorns!

This is what those geraniums should look like - these are their twin sisters safe in my front porch pots.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Workin' on the chain gang

Our Saturday chain gang is getting the rocks off the front yard. Chris and Sean joined us and we got most of the front de-rocked.

Don't worry, when the front is done we still have the side and back on this corner lot. And the view of the lake from their back deck is beautiful!

Even Tyfani pregnant with boy #4 is out there raking.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

We celebrated pioneer day

We celebrated Pioneer Day by going to the Mormon Battalion visitors center in San Diego with Jake. We chose Jake (not because he lived in California) but because we needed another strong person to help pull our handcart. We also hoped he could spot gold nuggets when we panned for gold. Dawson turned out to be the best at panning for gold. As the picture was being taken someone (Tyfani)suggested we strike a serious pioneer type pose, but as you can see some people just had to smile!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Yellowstone National Park Balzotti Reunion 2011

Mark and I in our secret agent disguise at Yellowstone Upper Falls. What a great Balzotti family reunion! The best people and the best scenery! We had 60 people there. All four grandparents and spouses, Mike's group total of 16, Mark's total of 12 (we lost!), Donna's group total 16 and Lori's group total of 16 also. The three pregnant moms - Tyfani, Rachel, and Andrea deserve an extra kiss and hug for being such good sports to come on this adventure. Three new babies coming in November, December and January for our family.

Alyssa is wearing a skirt (and a necklace). I am not. I am also saying "Don't take a picture," which always works.

Bear in the tree - Mark finally saw a bear on the last day. We had to restrain him as he attempted to leap from our moving vehicle when the ranger said no parking but he was able to safely jump out and we circled back for him.

Mahea, Pono, and Dawson about to be eaten by the Dragon!

Finn experiencing the Dragon's Breath Cave and modeling the reunion shirts Alyssa made for all the children.

Marie and Finn: "Don't get too close to the wildlife."

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Just trying to help out - 100th anniversary of Mackies

Mark and I helped Mackies in Port Stanley celebrate their 100th birthday by eating their fries with special sauce. The sauce is an amazing sweet/spicy ketchup, spices and a dash of their famous orangade combination - I think. I am considering working there one summer just to steal the recipe for their fry sauce!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Meet Brigham Young's great-great-great-great grandson

Dawson had to dress up as someone from Utah's history for his 4th grade "wax museum" last week. With all the classes going around the gym it's a bit noisy but he did a great job. I liked the part where he said BY was the first governor of SLC instead of Utah. The coat came right out of our dress-ups. Sadly, his recent haircut removed his curly hair which was just like his ancestor.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Carribean Cruise pictures from last week

If you leave your chair for a half hour snorkel you may find your spot taken by some skinny-legged chick strutting down the beach!

My chair for the day. At our second port we went to beautiful Brewer's Beach on Tortola.There were about 2,000 passengers on our cruise ship and only about 10 people were on this incredible beach. We shared a taxi with one other couple and we were the only ones there for a couple hours and then a few people arrived later. No loud music, no spring break crowd, clean warm turquoise water to snorkel in, soft white sand and shady palm trees.Perfect.

Our first port in the southern Carribean was Samana - this is the colorful downtown shopping area which is one street. The ride in on boat tenders took longer than walking around the town.

These are the taxi's at Samana - scooters with attached seating. The port isn't visited by very many ships so it is still small and not very developed.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Let them eat cake (and drink Italian sodas)

The cakes are adorned and labels and ready for the wedding shower guests to enjoy. Fresh tulips, Italian soda bar, tissue ceiling decorations and a moss runner from Taipan.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cowpie clocks - the story I had to tell

I heard Chris and Thaylene talking about Cowpie clocks and wrote the story for the Daily Herald - go check it out on their site."Cowpie clocks are selling like hotcakes"

Monday, March 7, 2011

What are they up to?

Dress rehearsal for "Sleeping Beauty" which Tyfani directed. Haydon and Roman are lined up ready to enter during rehearsal. The junior version was a little more junior with 2 year-old Roman joining the goons. He danced and sang and swung his sword on stage the last night with the rest of those bad boys!

Dawson "painting" his clay mask with shoe polish. While brothers rehearsed "Sleeping Beauty" Dawson went to sculpture class across the hall.

One of the clay projects Dawson made was a mask.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

by request: book review of "The Distant Hours"

Some people have asked me to continue writing review - Yes or no? If no one is reading them here I probably won't take the time. I am not sending them out as a bulk email anymore but I could post here when I read a good book. This was my last review written for the column but never published.

“The Distant Hours”
by Kate Morton

When a female friend (or complete stranger at the grocery store) asks for a good book to read, I suggest a novel by Kate Morton. Gentlemen, I’ve given you plenty of suggestions lately for books you would like so skip this review and pick up the TV remote – it’s a definitely a book for the ladies.

Kate Morton books include “The House at Riverton”, “The Forgotten Garden” and her newest “The Distant Hours”, published in November of 2010. They are books about old houses, old families and old women. Sound boring? Not at all – these mysteries will keep you up late at night reading generational secrets, riveting love stories and haunting endings.

“The Distant Hours” begins with the first few pages of an old book titled “The True History of the Mud Man”. Edie read this book as a child and now wonders if it’s more than fiction. “Hush… Can you hear him? The trees can. They are the first to know that he is coming. Listen! The trees of the deep, dark wood, shivering and jittering their leaves like papery hulls of beaten silver; the sly wind, snaking through their tops, whispering that soon it will begin. The trees know for they are old and they have seen it all before.”

The mysterious book about a terrifying muddy man scaling the walls of an old castle to kidnap a child was written by the father of the three Blyth spinsters more than fifty years ago. As little girls, the twins and their baby sister lived under his famous shadow in Milderhurst castle outside of London in Kent. They live there still, hiding their secrets and his.

One afternoon Edie watches her mother react with shock when a letter that should have been delivered fifty years earlier arrives. Her mother had been evacuated out of London as a young girl to live with the Blyths during World War II and the letter is from the youngest daughter Juniper. Edie begins to research her mother’s past and discovers the terrible truth of what happened in the distant hours at Milderhurst.

“The Distant Hours” is a gothic style novel with twists of fate, dark family secrets and madness lurking in turret rooms. I enjoyed traveling between the 1940’s and the 1990’s as Edie unravels the mystery of the Blyths and discovers her own mother’s secrets. It’s definitely on my top ten of 2010 fiction reading list.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Good News - Daily Herald News

Yes, our beloved little Springville Herald was shut down by the big bad owner in Provo. I promptly applied to the big bad Daily Herald and am now employed by them to write Springville stories - two a week is what they will now run. I had my family editor (Jon the beloved) read and comment on my first story. With his brutal, slashing red pen he helped me make my article "Less tepid" and suggested I change my last paragraph which "comes to a grinding halt". While he was in high school I was just as ruthless and now the tables have turned! I actually value his suggestions - even if I sift through and discard some of them.
The story was about an elementary school in Springville trying to get Chinese Immersion started. This precocious little kindergarten girl was a great interview!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Last BookLook - Springville paper closed down

Not sure what will happen to BookLook now. I will be having a meeting in the next week or so with Provo Daily Herald who owned and closed The Springville Herald. Hopefully I will be able to continue writing. Here is the last review printed in the column. No one knew about the closing or we would have all done something spectacular instead of a routine article.

BookLook January 27, 2011
Debbie Balzotti

“Queen of the Night”
It’s the dead of winter. The weatherman gleefully announces that we haven’t seen temperatures above freezing for weeks. Inversions are blown out of our mountain valley by snow storms depositing several inches of heavy wet stuff which turns to ice and stays plastered to sidewalks and roads. It’s time to head to St. George with a good book in the CD player and the promise of warmth and sunshine just four hours south!

J.A. Jance, an award winning mystery writer, wrote “Queen of the Night” in 2010 and dedicated it to the late Tony Hillerman. Like Hillerman, Jance brings many tribal legends and contemporary Native American practices into her story about the Cereus desert flower known as Queen of the Night. The fragrant white flower only blooms one night each spring but this year it is also a night of murder on the Tohono O’odham reservation in Arizona.

Retired sheriff Brandon Walker is again solving murders past and present. He is asked to follow-up on a 50 year-old cold case where a witness is ready to talk. He is also involved with the four brutal murders recently committed just outside of Tucson. His wife Diana and adopted Native American daughter Lani soon become involved in the cases.

One small part of the book involved the token Mormon character. Mormon is often used as a handy adjective to describe an extremely religious person with impossibly high standards of behavior – like using crazy or freakish. Why can’t she be a Methodist or a Presbyterian? Wouldn’t those good parents of teenage daughters get upset when they found out the girls were drinking and breaking the law in 1959? Well at least she wasn’t portrayed as another polygamist wife so I guess I should just get over it.

The rough gravelly voice of the narrator Greg Itzin helps the reader keep the large cast of characters straight as he pitches his voice high and low and slightly accented when needed. No easy task in a J.A. Jance novel filled with dozens of main characters. Hiking in the desert country around St. George is the perfect way to really get into the setting of the concluding chapters. And who knows? I might meet one of those other Mormons on the trail; you know the polygamist kind, not the freakish kind.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Grandma Ava is 92

Grandma Ava with son Mark and daughter Lori. Donna and Mike were able to join in the singing of Happy Birthday by speaker phone. Ava enjoyed her party very much and although she wasn't smiling in her pictures she had lots of smiles for everyone.

Ava and Grandson Chris and his son Finn who will be 1 year old next week. They are 91 years apart in age.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Family Picture at Christmas

We took a family picture at Christmas this year since it was the first time to get everyone together for a couple of years. With Sean and Alyssa here after 2 Christmas's gone and Jon and Mariel back for the holiday from Iowa, we thought we'd better take a family picture. Our general "rule" has been every time we add a baby we need to take a new family picture and we added 2 this year - Finn and Nico!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Saving CeeCee Honeycutt" BookLook Jan. 20

“Saving CeeCee Honeycutt”
“Saving CeeCee Honeycutt” by Beth Hoffman is a novel about southern women in the 1960’s. It’s filled with lots of nuts and as syrupy as a slice of pecan pie. These characters are “Steel Magnolias” without the hair salon. They range from sweetly eccentric to full-fledged crazy and we love reading about their absurd behavior and uppity ways.

CeeCee is short for Cecelia Rose. CeeCee is the twelve-year-old daughter of Camille Sugarbaker Honeycutt, formerly and forever Miss Vidalia Onion Queen 1951. Camille was swept off her satin pump clad feet by a northerner (damn Yankee) and is now living in utter misery in Ohio. Momma Camille slips steadily, or rather unsteadily, into complete insanity as her husband spends more and more time on the road working as a salesman. Little CeeCee is left to care for her delusional mother with no support except a kind elderly neighbor lady.

After the untimely death of her mother who was run over by the ice-cream truck as she crossed the road dressed in one of her Goodwill gowns with matching heals and tiara, CeeCee is rescued by her mother’s elderly Aunt Tootie. Just picture little Cinderella driving off with her kindly fairy god-mother in a big Buick convertible headed for a happy ending in a southern mansion in Savannah Georgia.

Of course Aunt Tootie wasn’t christened Tootie, she was named Talullah. I love the names and nicknames of these southern women. When pronounced with a soft drawl and accented with an eyelash flutter they are pure poetry.

My own grandmother, Lucy Trotter Brigeforth Allen was nicknamed Aunt Tot. This odd moniker used a version of her middle name and carried the expectation that at age 37 this unmarried nurse would be the old maid of the family – everybody’s Aunt. Boy did she fool them! Picture the Southern Belle driving off into the sunset with her dashing Mr. Allen headed for a happy ending in a…farmhouse growing tobacco ever after.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Few of Our Pet Deer

This little group of deer is standing just outside the back door. When I slowly opened the door to take the picture I did get a few heads to turn but basically they are so used to us that unless we startle them they like to nibble our bushes and use our backyard for napping.

Goose is not a very good guard dog. She was visiting when the herd of deer was in our backyard mere feet away and instead of barking she just stood and watched out the door.

Friday, January 7, 2011

What happens at grandma's stays at grandma's

Read the shirt. Nico is enjoying cheerios and helping in the kitchen by throwing the dish towel on the floor.

Dawson and Haydon posed for my newspaper article on cookie decorating with grandma. This picture proves the cookies didn't come out of my oven - thank you Allen's bakery!

Gabe and Jonathan rode horses on a beautiful December day. (Gabe had help from Aunt Marie's mom.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

"Food Porn Daily" - really that's the title!

“Food Porn Daily”
If ever you should judge a book by a cover it’s “Food Porn Daily”. The cookbook by Amanda Simpson is amazing so don’t let the title scare you off. Or maybe you have an epicurean sense of humor and have visited their website also titled FoodPornDaily with .com added. The popular website features only mouthwatering pictures without any recipes so the new cookbook to go with the photos is brilliant.

The website has the motto “Click, Drool, Repeat.” For the cookbook the motto needs to be changed to “Flip, Drool, Repeat.” I agree it would be even better to add the words cook and eat to the list of activities for the motto. Every page has a very close up picture which entices the most reluctant chef to rush off to the grocery store with a list of ingredients while focusing on that picture of a perfect dish in their head.

In the introduction Simpson offers helpful tips on seasoning, preheating, frying and measuring flour. She also states, “Recipes are simply guidelines. In my opinion, there is no definitive right or wrong way to create a dish so long as the outcome is a tasty, satisfying experience.” The recipes do allow for adaptation but I would worry about that perfect picture from the book not appearing in living color on my plate if I make any changes.

What’s to recommend about this cookbook? The pictures of course and recipes ranging from grilled hot dogs to oysters on the half shell. I also like the creative chapter divisions by season. It implies a mood for food which I subscribe to wholeheartedly. Hot, thick soups like Loaded Potato Soup with bacon, cheddar, sour cream and chives are perfect for winter and Stuffed Heirloom Tomatoes can be made from our own garden-ripe fruit at the end of the summer.

I enjoy reading cookbooks while sitting in the kitchen with a cup of cocoa. I enjoy making new dishes from cookbooks. I also enjoy eating delicious food – especially cooked by other people. My new “Food Porn Daily” cookbook was created in response to salivating viewer requests on their website. I am hoping the next product to be generated by these food-lovin’ folks will be a restaurant menu. Then I can have my cake picture and eat it too.