Saturday, December 31, 2011

.03 Inches

Last year, on New Year's Eve we headed to our friend's house in Midway, after a freezing cold few runs of night skiing.  I took a blurry photo of the temperature outside.  That's negative 10!

By the time we got there, it was 17 below 0.  There was enough snow for the kids to play in a snow fort outside.

Or cozy up on our friend's sofa in long underwear.

Yesterday, at 9:30pm my car said it was 57 degrees outside.  That's bike-riding weather.  I had to take off my coat.  The wind picked up and blew all night long, rattling the windows, and blowing open the doors.  Definite drop in temperature today, but where is the white stuff?  

This December, we've had .03 inches of recorded rain/snowfall.  The previous record for the driest December is .08 inches in 1976.  The Salt Lake Tribune wrote that the winter of 1976-77 was the skimpiest ski season in memory.
Last December, we had 3.04 inches of water at the airport.  And an amazing ski season.  I do love the weather-related surprises that we see in Utah.  Snow in April, a beautiful day or two in February, a 60 degree day in December.  But goodness, the ski resorts need a good ole' storm.  And Millie really wants to play in the snow!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Medley

A cute little performance by Simon and his friend Caleb.

Makes a mom proud.  Caleb is usually playing the higher part, and Simon the lower.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Tribute to my Dad, Howard Otteson

One year ago today, my Dad died.  He was at work drilling teeth on Thursday, he fell in the parking lot of his dental office that day, and died peacefully the following Sunday. He was 80 years old.

He loved his grandchildren.  He was always kind to my mom.

He built a boat.  The whole thing from scratch.  It is still at my mom's house.  I was too young, but all my brothers helped build that boat upside down in our garage.  We had a childhood full of vacations and memories with that boat.  And lots of time watching my dad try to fix it.

He was a painter.

One year he gave each of us a brand new painting.  This is the one I was gifted and it hangs in Millie's bedroom.

He collected old cars from the 60s.  I used to be embarrassed by them when I was younger.  Whenever I took my kids to visit them in Oregon, he would bring home this beauty from the office and take the kids out for a Cold Stone ice cream.

In the summer, he would take us to Oaks Park, an historic amusement park in Portland, Oregon.

He sang with a group called The New Oregon Singers for many years.  He traveled the world with them and often took my mom.  Us kids even got to tag along on a few trips.  Some of my siblings sang with the group as well.  I love this photo of my mom and dad walking in Greece.

Cooking was one of his best hobbies.  Before the days of food network, he video-taped cooking shows and tried lots of delicious dishes.  He had several chinese stir fry's, a Chinese BBQ pork, a phyllo dough-chicken wrapped stuffing concoction, plenty of steaks and salmon, homemade chicken nuggets, and he could whip up a mean sweet 'n sour sauce out of nowhere.  The last several years, he was obsessed with making quiche.  He was good at putting anyone near the kitchen to work, and teaching them how to cut julienne sliced veggies (like he did to Brent a day or two before we were married -welcome to the Otteson family!)

Dad loved ballroom dancing.  This was the cover of a local dance magazine that featured Dad.  He always took lessons and performed in competitions.  He loved to choreograph his own routines.

Aside from the endless supply of assorted popsicles, I think my kids' next favorite thing was when he'd offer up his change.  He had a medium-sized mixing bowl full of change - not mostly pennies, but good change.  He'd have each kid hold open a ziplock baggie, then he'd do a double-hand scoop of change into each of their bags.  They loved sorting, stacking, and counting that money, which usually added up to nearly $20 each.

He invented another funny tradition. He took every grandchild, when they were around 3 years old, on a special grocery shopping trip.  He videotaped the whole thing and the grandchild picked whatever they could fit in the kid-sized shopping cart.  He'd purchase everything they chose, even if it was yucky.

There's so much more to tell.  This just barely skims the surface.

He was generous with his food, his funds, and his talents.  And he was a very gentle dentist. 

Oh, and he built a house, built furniture, fixed cars, planted a garden, and so much more!  I'm sure he's a busy man up there in Heaven.  I'm not sure how so many talents got bottled-up into one human body.

I love ya' Dad.  I've been thinking about you all day.  

Monday, October 31, 2011


Brent has a talent.  Find a nice photo like this.

Do a little cropping and change to black and white.

Print, color in some shading, think about what stays and what goes, and make some lines and notes.

Get to carving and scraping.  Wonder the whole time if it's gonna' work or if you'll have to turn it into a full moon pumpkin.  Doesn't look too impressive yet.

Light it up, and poof - it's like magic.  
You can also see Millie's pineapple and owl, Jane's Obama profile, and Oli's utensils.

Oli carved a cat and unicorn. Simon gets credit for the clever saxophone.

I used a pattern and all my patience for this little haunted house scene.

Simon freehanded a random geometric design.

Happy Halloween! 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Blink of an Eye

We dropped in at our friend's house in Midway last New Year's Eve.  Our friend is a film maker and sometimes goes nuts with taking film and photos.  He was on a roll that night, and took a bunch of photos of Millie and Simon.

A couple of days ago, he sent Brent a link to a commercial he had made and told him to watch for something he'd like.  Brent watched it about 4 times and couldn't figure out the puzzle.  He had to e-mail film-maker-friend back to get a tip.  He said there was a picture of Millie in it.  Well, Brent found the 1 second shot and forgot to tell me about it.

After conference, we didn't get the TVs turned off right away, and suddenly Brent started freaking out saying watch, watch, watch, it's SteveO's commercial, then hollered, "There's Millie."  I missed it.  Didn't see her.  But thanks to youtube, we can see it all we want.

Millie is at exactly 14 seconds.  She's with the blue stuffed animals.  At 15 seconds, she's gone.  You'll miss her if you blink.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


I don't think I ever truly appreciated the work and effort that goes into a marching band.  And I guess I always thought the uniforms were, well, unfashionable.  That is until my own son put one on.  Handsome as can be.  I love him in that uniform.

Summer band practice was several weeks at the school from 7:30am until noon.  This was in preparation for summer parades.

I was surprised when Simon decided to join Fall Marching Band.  This is commitment.  Two solid weeks, every day from 8am until 4pm in the scorching hot August weather, in a big field with zero shade.  Then after-school practices once school started.  Still hot outside.

But the result is impressive.  This was their 1st performance just for families.

Way to go 120 kids in Timpview Marching Band

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Fruits and Flies

This time of year, I frequent the Spanish Fork Farmers Market most Saturdays.  Along with my purchases come the pesky fruit flies.  They say to keep your produce in the refrigerator to eliminate them.  But peaches and pears ripen nicely on the counter, not in the fridge.  You can buy fruit fly traps online, but this little gadget works perfectly and costs nothing.  Two-cup jar, chunks of fruit, scrap paper, and tape.  Those flies go down the paper cone, then they try to get out up the sides of the jar.  But it is sealed shut with tape.

I keep two of these going.  One is in the freezer killing flies (humanely as possible), and the other is on the counter catching them.  I swap them out 2 or 3 times before cleaning out the jars, getting fresh fruit, and making new paper cones.

A side note about farmers markets.  I've tried to support the Provo farmers market.  But I don't like the parking, I don't like the crowds, and I don't really like all the craft booths.

Spanish Fork is just the right size and just the right kind of stuff - some local honey, homemade bread, and all the rest is produce.  I have gone to the BYU Stadium farmers market a couple of times - Thursdays 3-8pm.  It is a good midweek option and has good parking.  There are a few craft booths, but it is so small, that getting my produce is quick and easy.

Back before we turned our lives upside down with the bike shop, Brent and I used to go to Spanish Fork together almost every Saturday.  The kids were still sleeping, and it was just our little outing.  Maybe those memories keep me going back there.  Alone.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Millie and I admired this little beauty the other day as we were driving home.

This was taken about 17 years ago before most the homes existed on the hill above our house.

This is my most favorite singer/songwriter singing the Rainbow Connection.  Although I haven't listened to Jason much in the last year or even two, there was a time when I was nearly obsessed with him.  I love it when he makes mistakes, like in this little video - he handles it with good humor.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Story 1
A few days before church, Brent had purchased some treats for his Sunday School class.  He forgot to bring them to church, and I had to run home for something anyway, so I was to bring them back with me.  When I arrived, his classroom was dark and empty.  I looked outside for a minute, but couldn't find them.  So, I taped a full piece of paper marked "FOR BRENT HULME" on the outside of the knotted grocery bag and left it carefully on the classroom table.  When I found Brent, about 30 minutes later, I told him I left the snacks there.  He went to get them, and the whole package of cookies had been eaten, and all the suckers were gone except for some wrappers.  I know, kids will be kids.  It wasn't a big loss.   But when something is clearly marked with someone's name, this is stealing.  And it is wrong.  And they should be ashamed.

Story 2
Oli has been trying to sell his bicycle thru KSL Classifieds so that he can buy a new one.  Tom Packer wanted the bike, sight unseen.  He also asked Oli if he gave him an extra $50, could he give that money to the movers who would be picking up the bike.  Didn't seem like a big deal.  A few days later, Tom sent a check for $1700.  The price of the bicycle was $425.  Tom had sent an e-mail with the address where the extra money should be sent.  I took the check to the bank thinking that well, if it clears, then we're okay.  I briefly told the teller that I was worried about the check clearing, and he reminded me that actually, I'd get the cash today, but that it wouldn't officially "clear" for a couple of days.  The teller said it definitely sounded like fraud, especially since the guy wanted the excess money sent immediately through Western Union.  He asked if I could wait about 10 or 15 minutes and he'd see if his manager could verify the legitimacy of the account.  I waited.  No such account number existed.  That was close.  I sent Mr. Tom Packer a nasty e-mail.  Told him to get a real job - an honest job.  Told him my bank is sending his phony check to their security department.  Told him I'm glad we have our bike and our money.  I wonder how many others have fallen into his trap and went so far as to lose their money.  Sad.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Clean-Out-The-Fridge Pizza

There was nothing to fix for dinner.  Seriously nothing.  I thought I could whip up a pizza pretty quickly.  But I only had about 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese.  Then I remembered I had a small hunk of pepper-jack cheese.  That could be tasty.  Then I began pulling out all the cheeses in my fridge.  The supply of cheese scraps seemed to be endless.  Some moldy, some I had no idea what type it was, most were not your typical pizza cheese.  

So, why not shred them all up and mix 'em all together?  I ended up using 10 kinds cheese:
Mexican blend
Carmelized onion cheddar (From Trader Joes - yummiest stuff ever!)
And a couple hunks I couldn't identify - probably repeats of the others

Thai pizza was sounding really good.  I haven't made that in years.  No Thai peanut sauce in the fridge, so I found an easy recipe from the California Pizza Kitchen.  I didn't have all the ingredients for the sauce, but I had enough to wing-it.  I will definitely make this sauce again - it was delicious.

Plopped a couple frozen chicken breasts in the oven, mixed up a quick batch of dough, then began pulling out assorted items from the vegetable drawer.  I had to throw away quite a few in the process.  This was all I had to work with - a good half of a zucchini, 1/8 of a red pepper, 2 green onions, a small handful of carrots, and a few barely edible mushrooms.

 I had two of these babies ready to go in the oven.

Fresh cilantro and cucumber topped this after it was cooked.  Fresh cucumber on a hot pizza is amazing.  I wished I had had more.

Even the kids gobbled this up.
My cheese drawer is so empty now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Love Babies

And I really miss this one.  This is Liam, my great-nephew - grand-nephew?  My niece's baby.  We had so much fun with this 4-week-old bundle as they stopped in for a few days while moving across the country.   I couldn't resist that soft fuzzy head.

Here's another cute one that I got to meet at Lake Powell.  He's an adorable busy body.  Those eyes...

Haven't met these ones, either.  First set of twins on my side of the family.  Those cheeks look delicious.  I love their names, Ruby and Norah.

And lastly, baby Ella wins the prize for the most hair EVER on my side of the family.  She's with her Grandpa, my brother.  I can't wait to snuzzle her, too.

Another one is due on Millie's birthday.  And another was just announced a few days ago.
I love babies.  However, I am grateful to get a full night's sleep almost every single night at this point in my life.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fatty Barbecue

My brother likes to cook.  Get him some meat, a grill, a deep fryer, or a smoker, and he can do amazing things.  This breakfast treat was something I had never seen or experienced before.  It's called Fatty Barbecue.

1st, he weaved bacon into a sort of mat.  Then he smashed sausage in a Ziplock bag to make this rectangle shape and placed it on top of the bacon mat.  Then some cream cheese, onions, peppers.  Roll it up.

Place it on the grill

I think he cooked these for about 1.5 hours

Then he sliced them up.  Wow. That was something to experience.  Fatty Barbecue is a fitting name.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

If I Had One Million Dollars...

I'd buy myself a boat.
And a boat trailer.
And a wakeboard.
And a wake surf board.
And a slalom ski.
And a dozen life jackets.
And a vehicle to pull the boat.
And a timeshare on one of these.

We were the fortunate recipients of an invitation to Lake Powell with my brother.  The friends that usually go with them on this trip had a wedding and couldn't make it.  Sad for them.  We lucked out. 

Millie Kayaking

Simon Kayaking in a cool slot canyon
And we provided the water trampoline which no longer holds air very well, and the kids have kind of outgrown it.  But who is ever too old for a round of Duck-Duck-Goose on a water trampoline?

Simon sliding during a night swim
 My brother provided the boat, the houseboat, the driving skills, all the fun toys, and endless quantities of patience driving us all over the lake.

Brent wakesurfing

Simon about to wakeboard
Oli jumping the wake

And I can still slalom ski with a smile on my face
One of the most beautiful places ever

I love Lake Powell.