Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

I feel like the past few weeks have flown by!  I went to Maryland and got to hang out with the Hotovy and Horton families for a couple days.  It’s always fun seeing everyone :)  And I have some cute pictures of Leonie to share!



After my visit, I hopped in a car with the Dallavalle family and headed to Disney!  I’ve posted a ton of pictures on facebook, so I’ll only share a couple of favorites here.

The first Disney day we went to Epcot. I didn’t have high expectations as it’s always been a running joke in our household that Epcot is the most boring place on earth.  It was my FAVORITE part of Disney!  I really enjoyed getting to see the different countries and could probably spend a few days just exploring the park. 


The second day we went to Hollywood Studios.  There were a lot of fun rides and the "Honey I Shrunk the Kids” playground was definitely a highlight.  In fact, the entire park made me want to go home and watch movies I haven’t seen since I was a kid!


The third day was Animal Kingdom. It was probably the hottest day of the week (which is saying a lot). We went on a safari and it was a ton of fun—elephants make every day better.  Plus, I got to try my first mojito!

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Days 4 & 5 were spent in the Magic Kingdom.  Unfortunately, it rained both days. But we still got a lot of fun in!  It was great to get to ride some of the iconic rides—It’s a Small World, Dumbo, Teacups, etc.  Plus, we got to ride Splash Mountain—Kira is not scared of roller coasters at all!

The girls also got a makeover at the Bippity Boppity Boutique and we had brunch at Cinderella’s castle.  SO AWESOME!  I want to go back and do that again 🙂


After a full week of rides, shows, princesses, pools, ice cream and the hot,hot sun, it was time to go home.  It was a great trip and I am so glad I was invited to go!

I slept for about 24 hours after getting home.  After the first day, I managed to stop getting lost in my own house 🙂

Now, back to reality!  I have some church stuff coming up this week—game night and a Council retreat. Anson will spend the weekend coding <insert sounds of shock here>.   Next weekend we’re going to the Renaissance Faire—expect pictures!

On Day 2 of our trip, Angie and her family showed up early in the morning.  The Inn was nice enough to let them check in super early—so awesome 🙂


We started off the day by going sledding. The girls were super excited about the sledding hill out back.  There wasn’t any fresh snow, so it was just a hill maintained by the Inn.


It was a lot of fun going down the first few times.  The girls were having a blast!






After the first few trips down, we had packed down the snow enough that the hill was almost completely ice. That’s when we all started wiping out.  All the adults had sore bottoms—the kids were lucky enough to have super-padded snow suits.

Mia was the first to sustain an injury. She had a bloody nose. As they were carrying her up the hill, she was screaming “I want to go down again!”  So, we let her :)  After the adults got sore enough, we all gave up.




Later that day, we all went to the Unique Gift Shop. No cameras allowed.  But, there was a neat moose outside.



They had some cool hand-crafted stuff. They claimed the chocolate they made was as good as lindt—it wasn’t.

We then went to the Norman Rockwell Museum.  Also an unheated warehouse :)  The girls had a lot of fun!  It was really neat to see all the artwork.  Mia’s favorite was the one where the dog was trying to pull the boy’s pants off.



Kira liked trying to act like the people in the paintings 🙂



After the museum, we went to a place called Kelvin’s for lunch. It was pretty awesome food.  Angie got a sandwich called the “Kelvinator” which I’m pretty sure contained multiple kinds of meat and french fries. So good!



All the girls got peppermint patties! Love this pic!


Kira played some Flow Free over lunch—love it!


When we got back to the inn, we got to meet up with Anson’s parents. 


And then—PAJAMA PARTY!  We watched White Christmas (in Vermont—yay!), ate candy, and just had an all-around good time.





What a great way to end the night!  The next day….the vow renewal!

Anson and I travelled to Vermont to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary.  We went out for a whole week and renewed our vows somewhere in the middle. It was awesome 🙂

The flight was as expected.  I had to get a pat down by security (much more extensive than it used to be!).  The lady was laughing with me by the end though—said she appreciated my being so nice about it.  Anson took pictures. I will not be posting them 🙂

The drive from the airport was amazing.  We drove past lots of small-town Christmas decorations, flannel stores, cookie shops….ahh, Vermont!  They also had a radio station playing Casey Kasem counting down the Christmas hits.  Best. Drive. Ever.

The next morning, we started to explore Vermont.  We spent the day with our very awesome friends, The Risneys, who travelled with us.  The restaurant at the inn was heavenly.  Everything was very rich, but worth it!

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We then headed to the Maple Museum.  When we walked in, we appeared to be in a gift shop.  By the door, there was a sign that said “Museum Tour $1.75.” So, we stood waiting until an older lady finally noticed we were there and we were able to ask about the tour.  We paid our money and she led us to the back.  She had to come with us to turn on the lights and warned us that there was no heat inside.  Awesome.


The first thing we saw was this guy:


He gave us a speech about maple syrup.  We were cold though, so we didn’t stay to listen to the whole thing.  The next guy we met was this guy:

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One of the best parts of the museum is the combination of reality and stuffed animals.  They also had some pretty paintings and interesting signs.


And some pretty creepy stuff.  Anson thinks the first guy is the creepiest because of his hands. I think the second guy is because of his eyes.  We need a tie-breaker.


As we were leaving the museum, we got to watch a 1980’s slide show about how maple syrup is made.  We then went to the tasting room where there was a fantastic selection of treats to try.  I sampled all the different kinds of maple syrup and a few of the other local products.

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We then walked around the gift shop and made a few purchases. Yummy stuff!

After that, we headed into downtown Rutland for lunch. Unfortunately, almost all of Rutland is closed on Mondays.  So, after a time, we happened upon a small restaurant that we thought might work.  We walked in and saw the tables decorated with Charlie Brown trees.


Normally I would think this was cute.  However, in this particular case, it was just sad.  We ordered lunch—I ordered a turkey sandwich.  When they brought it to the table, it appeared to be an entire pack of store-bought lunch meat that had been cut in half and placed on the bread with a piece of lettuce.  They also put approximately an entire bag of sunchips on my plate.  I took a couple bites of the sandwich before I became very unsure that the meat on my sandwich was actually turkey.  Ugh.  It’s tempting to write Robert Irvine and recommend this place to Restaurant Impossible! 

So, for dinner we went to the restaurant at the inn. Pumpkin risotto—so good 🙂


All in all, a great first day in VT! 

At the end of my trip to Maryland, I got to help throw a baby shower for my sister-in-law Daniela.  She is due in May and I am SUPER excited to have another niece to dote on 🙂


For the first time I played the baby food game and actually ate the baby food—I do not envy babies 😛

Angie and I took the kiddos to Yogi Castle one last time. Kira has become a master and filling her cup with multiple kinds of frozen yogurt and 10 or so toppings.  She eats it all, so I can’t complain.  I’m just glad she enjoys it!



We also went to the park to play!  Wahoo!



I definitely miss those kiddos, but I’m glad to be home :) 

I managed to catch the plague from one of the seven or so sick people on my flight back. I spent the first five days after my trip sick in bed. I am FINALLY getting back into my routine.  I guess it’s time to start jogging again!

About a week ago, Anson came out to visit. It was great because it had been over three weeks since
I had seen him—I miss that guy!

He got to meet his newest niece, Nora. They make such a cute pair 🙂



One of the best things about this visit was getting to see Uncle Anson and Mia play together. Mia LOVES Uncle Anson.  She gives him hugs & kisses, wants to follow him everywhere, and shares a common interest—gadgets! 


She had him put bows in her hair and then taught him how to smile for the camera. So cute!



And, of course, he had a great visit with Kira. She loves science and is currently very interested in animals.  She watched a Discovery Channel special on sea creatures and learned that shrimp can pinch their prey to death.  She then taught us all how to pinch like shrimp and took pictures of us.


Uncle Anson was a bit more like a lobster. That’s okay—he’s learning 🙂


We both had a lot of fun hanging out with our cutie pie nieces. Love them so much!




We also had a great visit with the Horton side of the family.  We went to Mom and Dad Horton’s house for dinner and board games.

The game: Trivial Pursuit

The teams: Dad Horton, Grandma Horton, Grandma Johnson & Me VS. Mom Horton, Aaron, Daniela and Anson

My team managed to get around the entire board and get all the pie pieces while the other team only had one pie piece.  They spent a lot of time reading questions.



My team spent a lot of time smiling and being happy because we were so far ahead 🙂



Of course, my team couldn’t seem to land on the center. So, Anson’s team eventually won. Here are some pics of their celebration.




Ah well! I played Anson one-on-one the next morning and I DESTROYED him.  No worries 🙂

It was a great visit and we got some cute pics with Aaron and Daniela.

Horton Family

It was sad to see Anson head back to WA,  but it was great to spend some quality time with him in MD 🙂

I’ve been in Maryland for about a month now and just figured out that I can post to the blog from here.  Because this trip has been so long, I will probably write several blogs about it. I figure it’s best to start at the beginning.

It was a cold and wintery night on January 15th. I got the frantic call from Angie telling me her water broke.  Naturally, I hopped on the first available plane so that I could help out while she’s in the hospital. While wandering around Denver during my layover, I got the call from Angie informing me that she had not actually had her water break.  What had happened? Nobody knows. It’s a mystery. But what’s life without a little mystery? 🙂

We spent the next couple of weeks having fun while waiting for Nora to make her arrival. It snowed, so we were able to go out and play. Though, to Kira’s great disappointment, it was not “snowman-making snow.”  We still had some fun outside though!



As Angie got more and more pregnant, she was less and less comfortable walking around. So, we decided to have some fun indoors. We had a couple of crazy hair pajama parties. Mamie and Pops even stopped by for a bit!  And my adorable nieces learned how to stick out their tongues in photos.  I may be guilty of teaching them that.  I stand by the fact that they are super cute when they do it 🙂





And I’ll end this post by writing about the Superbowl. We had a little party.  Every year my dad and I make a bet and choose different teams to cheer for. This year, my dad won (though I maintain that Eli Manning won the game, not the Giants). At some point I’ll have to take him out to Dairy Queen to pay my debt. This was probably the least embarrassing football loss that I’ve had. The first time was when Seattle was in the Superbowl. My dad flew out to Seattle, came with me to a Superbowl party, and made me cheer for the Steelers. Even though the Steelers won, it still feels like a loss. And the absolute worst time? He made me cheer for <insert random team name here> when they played against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.  The next time I saw my dad was in NE where I took him to an ice cream shop and he informed everyone there that I was paying for the ice cream because I bet against NE.  I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out of that ice cream shop alive…

Anyway, here was our Superbowl party this year. I had the girls wearing red, white, and blue. And I taught them to say things like “Go Patriots!” and “I would NEVER cheer for the Giants! EWWW!” 🙂






What happened next on my trip? You’ll have to wait to find out! 😛

This past weekend, Angie was here!  She was our first official overnight visitor at the new house.  Yay!  Before she arrived, I actually had to furnish the upstairs bathroom with a few necessities—towels, soap, shower curtain…the basics 🙂

She arrived late on Thursday night and I greeted her with an official Seattle Starbucks drink.  Of course, since she is pregnant AND it was super late for her, I couldn’t do anything with caffeine. So, on September 1st Angie was officially introduced to the Caramel Apple Spice. Super yum 🙂

We woke up early on Friday and made Grandma Hotovy’s apple strudel.  I had made the dough the night before (it’s a 2-day recipe).  Angie flattened the dough while I sliced apples.  We worked together to roll the strudels without getting too many holes in the dough.  An hour later, my house smelled gloriously of apple treats and we were able to take our first bites.

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It was so delicious that we immediately called my dad to tell him of our triumph!  Too bad he was too far away to have a taste 🙂

You would assume that 3 strudels would take quite a bit of time to eat. Not so.  I think it took about 3 days. We shared 1/2 of one of them; that counts for something, right?

That evening we had 80’s night at the Horton house.  I openly admit that Anson and I are home bodies. We don’t often make big plans outside of the house—we just enjoy goofing around on our own. And for the first time, Angie got to experience this.

Anson will often come home and I will be in leggings, leg warmers, or some other form of 80’s gear. However, Angie and I went ALL OUT!  We had tights, leg warmers, make-up, crimped hair, etc. So much fun!  Angie made a comment about how it was the most make-up she had ever put on to stay in for the night.  We had a “totally awesome” time blasting music and dancing while dressing up.

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Our excitement must have been infectious, because Anson came home and dressed up too!

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Best. Husband. Ever.

We watched “Take Me Home Tonight” and “Overboard”—neither of which Angie had seen.  I must say, “Overboard” is still good even after all these years!

The next day we ran around Microsoft looking at conference rooms for Puzzlehunt (expect a post about Puzzlehunt early next week).  Angie was so nice to do that with us.  Then we went to Dixie’s BBQ. I had never been and I thought it would be a great Seattle-y thing to do.  So, we went and ordered a chicken bbq sandwich to split from the super nice old lady at Dixie’s. We were thinking that the sauce might be too spicy for us to each eat a whole one on our own (after all, The Man sauce does have a reputation!). We brought it back to the house and had Anson armed with a camera to get a pic of us tasting the bbq.  We took a big bite. Nothing.  Well, not nothing. It was really great bbq—we had forgotten to request The Man sauce though.  I had assumed they would put it on automatically. Guess not. Oh well! Now I just have to wait for someone else who likes bbq to come and visit!

On Sunday, I drove Angie up to catch the ferry to the San Juan Islands for a wedding and then picked her up again on Tuesday to drive her to the airport.  All in all, a GREAT visit!  Who’s next? 🙂

I just got back from my whirlwind tour of MD and NE.  Phew! There was so much going on that I didn’t take very many pictures (I was too tired!).  However, Kira helped me out and I think we got some good ones. I will share what I have (warning: this will probably be a LONG post).

First things first—Kira’s Birthday Party!

Kira had her 5th birthday while I was out in MD.  It was at an art studio and the kiddos got to make some pretty neat sculptures.  Angie and I (but mostly Angie) made her cake, so we got to be creative and have fun as well.

This is Angie icing the 4 layers of strawberry cake.  The layers alternate between pink and purple, but it was a little hard to see until we cut into it.  The icing was homemade buttercream. Soooo good :)  We (and by “we,” I mean “Angie”) decorated with more pink and purple—pretty much anything Kira said she wanted on the cake, Angie took it as a personal mission.  What a great mom!


Kira really enjoyed her birthday party! She got to wear a special dress, have a special cake, and run around with all her friends!  Too cute!



While in MD, I finally got a chance to see Mary and Tim’s house. And meet their new puppy, Jake!  However, the time change was beginning to get to me, so I was too tired to run around taking pics.  Lucky for me, Kira took an interest in my camera. She is, of course, a much better photographer than I am.  So, while I took this super cute pic of Mia trying on Uncle Tim’s hat:


I’m pretty sure Kira took the rest of these (though my dad may have taken 1 or 2 to show her how the camera worked).






Truthfully she used up my entire 1g card taking photos. I had to toss a bunch, but it was really tempting to keep them all and recreate Mary and Tim’s house in a collage.  🙂

And then came the roadtrip.  20+ hours in the car.  We tried to stop and rest in Iowa, but all of the hotels were booked. So, we drove straight to Omaha in one trip.  We did get out and play at the rest stops:



Angie and Kira even did their exercises! Go Angie and Kira!


Cuteness overload. Where was I? Oh right! We’re in NE now…

Well, we went to Desi and Brandon’s beautiful wedding.  None of the pictures of the ceremony turned out well.  I didn’t have enough light for my camera to get an un-fuzzy shot.  However, Kira ran around with my camera at the reception. More pics by Kira (except the few that she’s in—I took those):






Naturally, we stopped at the Book Store. Had to get some NE gear so that we could fit in when we walked around town:


The day after the wedding, we made a trip to the zoo with family. It’s always fun to see the cousins!

Kira actually walked across the bridge this time! So brave! And, in case you didn’t know, the NE zoo is AMAZING!









And, we got to visit a couple of times with Grandma Hotovy! She snuck me chocolate.  What can I say? The woman knows me 🙂

Kira took all these photos (love that girl!)


My new favorite pics of my dad:


“Make a silly face Aunt Rachel!”



It was so great getting to see Grandma. Now you all know where Angie and I get our good looks from. And our love of chocolate 🙂



Well, I think this post is getting ridiculously long. But, I just can’t resist a couple extra pics of my super cute nieces:




Alright, I’m done now. I promise I’ll post all the pics (these are just a few) on facebook so that people can tag/share them. Some day. <evil laugh>

Yesterday I had decided I wasn’t going to bake anything for Easter. It was going to be a lot of work and I knew Anson and I wouldn’t be up to eating all of the goodies. No big deal, right? Well, yesterday I was talking to my mom and told her I wasn’t baking anything this year. The response I got was: “Oh, but I was looking forward to reading your post about baking hot cross buns!”

So, here it is (because my mom asked for it):

I started out the same way I do every time I’m about to bake something new—I looked up as many different recipes as I could find. After finding 3 different recipes that I liked, I decided to combine them to make some super-mega-awesome hot cross buns.

The recipe I chose for the basic dough was pretty simple. And I chose it because it let me use my breadmaker. Don’t get me wrong, I like doing things by hand, but any time I can avoid spreading flour all over the counter is a bonus. So, I dump all of the ingredients into the machine and press “dough.” Done.

1 hour later, it beeped and I added the chocolate chips. 30 minutes after that it beeped again to signal the dough was ready. I went over and opened the lid. It was at this point that I realized things had gone terribly wrong.

I put my hand in to try to make a ball out of the dough and all I got was a wet hand. I mean, it was a chocolate-y, flour-y, yeast-y soup. Ewww.  So, that batch went in the trash.

Here is what I determined to be my 2 major mistakes:

1. I put the ingredients in the breadmaker in the wrong order. Breadmakers want you to either put in the dry ingredients first OR the wet ingredients. It depends on the breadmaker. The recipe asked me to put the dry ingredients in first and, since it had been a while since I had used my machine, I didn’t remember that mine needs the wet ingredients first. It all came back to me when I let my hand get slimed by the chocolate disaster that was my first attempt.

2. It is clearly a bad, bad idea to put the chocolate chips in while the dough is rising. They just melt and make it ultra-gooey.

Take 2.

This time I put all of the wet ingredients in first, dry second. When the breadmaker was done with the dough, I opened it up and happily discovered I had real dough. Yay!

From my second recipe, I took the idea of making it a pull-apart bread instead of making individual buns. So, I greased a pan and started to make dough balls. Before pinching the bottom of the dough together to make a ball, I would put in a bunch of chocolate chips. So, somewhere near the center of each roll would be a chocolate bite. Mmmm 🙂

After they were all shaped and in the pan, I let them sit to allow the dough to finish rising and then put them in the oven to bake. While they were baking, I made a glaze (3rd recipe) and an icing (2nd recipe). Some people have unforgivable ideas about what is allowed to be called “icing.” To the lady who wrote the recipe that told the baker to make the icing out of flour and water, I feel the need to inform you that that is PASTE, not icing!

Ding! They’re done! Out of the oven, I put the vanilla glaze on and then let them cool a bit. Afterwards, I drizzle some icing in the shape of crosses. And voila! Hot cross buns! Super awesome, vanilla glazed, chocolate filled, and iced!

Mmmm….tastes like Easter 🙂




I recently got back from a trip to MD. I somehow managed to not pick up the camera until my last day there.  While I was there, I got to visit with family and we even had an early Thanksgiving! But, like I said, no pictures of that stuff. I did manage to take a ton of pictures of my nieces on the last evening, but they’re pretty random. So, here are a few of them (just for fun):

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Okay, I have over 80 of these, so I better stop. And before Angie asks—yes, I will send you all the pictures!