Monday, December 29, 2008

body worlds/the coolest thing i've seen in a long time

K, so if you live in Salt Lake you must must MUST go see Body Worlds at The Leonardo before the exhibit leaves. Body World's is a traveling exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts that are prepared using a technique called plastination to reveal inner anatomical structures. The exhibition's developer and promoter is a German anatomist named Gunther von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique in the late 1970s at the University of Heidelberg. I don't care if you get grossed out or not. This really is one of the most eye opening exhibits I have ever seen! Seeing real human cadavers and the affects of certain behaviors on the body has definitely made me think more about how I treat my body and what I put into it. It's put a new twist on my New Years/Holly must eat less cookies and run her heart out and never stop campaign for sure. You should see the obese bodies they have in there, yep...totally skipped out on dessert tonight!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

my little holiday newsletter (and 100th blog post!)

At Christmas time I often get awesome newsletter updates from friends. I love recieving them because it helps me catch up with friends and family and know what's happening- so keep them coming! Since I have been terrible at sending letters and cards lately (and trust me I totally feel bad about it), here is my little newsletter for the 2007 holiday season.

A Super Year in Review...

January: This year started off great! I was living in Greenwich working for the cute Mandell Family as thier nanny. One of the best parts about living back east is that my two beautiful cousins Melanie and Jessica were living close by. We took Mel's kids into Manhattan for a little tour and had a great time just being together. Love you girls!

February: The Mandell children and I started a tradition called the "love chain" for Valentines Day. We start on the first of Feb and for each day leading up to Valentines we write notes to each person in the family telling them why we love them and add it to the chain. On Valentines we open up the chain pass out our notes and make pizza and heart sugar cookies. I treasure these little notes and they are posted in my journal. I heart Madeline, Maxwell, and Marshall.

March: I traveled with the Mandell's to Aspen Colorado for a ski trip. We spent Saint Patrick's Day there and had a blast skiing and celebrating Madeline's Birthday at Boogie's.

April: Mom took her first trip to visit me in New York and Connecticut. We accomplished all three baby scrapbooks for the Mandell's and went to see "Mama Mia" on Broadway as well as taking a tour of Manhattan. It was great to have her visit and we had a wonderful time together.

May: I traveled to China with my friends Camille and Christine to run The Great Wall of China marathon (1/2 marathon for me). It was probably the most difficult physical challenge I have done in my life, but I loved every minute and was an awesome experience. We visited Thailand afterwards and it was equally amazing. Can't wait to go back there again!

June: More travel! The Mandell's and I went to England this month and stayed at Bovey Castle in Devon. It's so amazingly beautiful there and a great place to visit with the kids. The English Countryside doesn't even look real! It was fantastic to let the kids play in the grass and enjoy the English Pony's. We had tea and crumpet's every afternoon and for atleast two weeks out of the year felt sophisticated atleast.

July: Our Singles ward in Connecticut took a roadtrip to Palmyra to visit the church sites and to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant. It was so well done and as expected, the Sacred Grove has such a special spirit about it. Afterwards we traveled to Canada so see the lovely Niagra Falls. I also turned the ripe age of 28 this month, but can assure you I don't feel a day older than 25.

August: It was my last month with the Mandell family because I was preparing to move to South Africa so I was trying to make every minute count. We went to Cabo, Mexico and had a wonderful time playing on the beach and enjoying the pools. Saying goodbye to the Mandell's was super hard, but I was happy to have had a great two years with them.

September: I returned to Salt Lake to spend time with family and friends before the big move to South Africa. E, Camille and I took a trip to the Manti Temple. I was able to catch up with old friends and spend lots of family time which I loved. One of my favorite things was spending time in the mountains with my nephew Jaxon. Towards the end of September I jetted a plane to sunny South Africa for what I thought would be a long journey.

October: I met several people who I had been networking with and become friends with in South Africa. I enjoyed every second of getting to know them and also spending time with the people I already had met. I fell in love with South Africa all over again!

November: My friend Christine and I took a roadtrip to the Drakensburg, aka-one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen! I hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner for my South African friends and took a mini safari through Krugersdorp.

December: Flew back to New York and spent a week with my cousins. Visited the Mandell's in Connecticut and ate Matzo ball soup and painted pottery with them. It was such a treat to get to spend some time with them. Returned to Salt Lake to join family and friends in Christmas Celebrations. Made a Gingerbread house, started painting the famous orange cave in Mindy and Bryce's home, and wrote a rediculously long year in review newsletter and posted it to my blog, ha ha.

In the next little while I will be trying to find a job (easier said than done in this economy) and starting my Master's of Education degree. I am excited to be in school agian and look forward to new adventures!

That's it in a nutshell!

I wish all of you a Magical Holiday and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

my new little project...

This past week has been crazy moving home, but so much fun. I am so excited about my new roomates (my cousins) Mindy and Bryce and thier cute son Dale. They have been so delightful since I have been home and are letting me move into thier orange cave. It's lovely hey! Actually the best part is that I get to decorate it any way that I want so I have been having fun with that the past week, I just have to say that Target, Home Depot and Ikea are the bomb dot comb! Results coming soon! For now, I'd like you to help me name the color that is on these walls, "peach, macaroni and cheese, rotten orange, barf?"...what do you call this? I can assure you the color has already been changed to a fresh coat of loveliness that I will reveal as soon as I am finished.

Oh, and I just want to mention that I have loved the snow. Lovely flakes of white have fallen almost every day since I have been home making it cozy and perfect for Christmas Eve. I was "dreaming of a white Christmas" and I definatly got my wish this year. Most days I have woken up to this...

Definatly will be taking advantage of the skiing and sledding and quiet nights. It's been the perfect weather to get my movies in. Here is my movie review in a nutshell.


Australia and Twilight

Dont' Recommend: Four Christmas's

Enjoy your Christmas Week!

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I finally found what I have been looking for! My mother has been collecting nativities at Christmas time and displaying them in the house for years. Each time I have traveled to Africa she has begged that I bring her one back. Each time I have failed. But, finally on Saturday I went to a market in Johannesburg and tada...there it was...he most perfect, cutest little African Nativity. I was so excited to find it and even more delighted that I could finally bring it home to my mom. It's something that will be special to me for a long time. I love Nativities and Christmas time and remembering the Savior's birth, and I adore Africa so this is an all in one combo! Yay! I love seeing it displayed in my Mother's living room and even my dad who could care less about decorations loved it.

saying cheers to south africa (for now)

Well, a couple of months ago I posted a passionate little number about my dream to move to South Africa. I did move there, got a job, tried to work again with several orphanages, bought a car, and networked for over a year with people who have become some of my closest friends. But...sometimes things just don't work out like we've planned. About a month into my journey I couldn't shake the anxious feeling I'd had the first four weeks. I just can't quite explain how I felt. It seemed that nothing I was really trying to accomplish was "working". That's when the lightbulb sort of went off and after a few days of fighting the promptings I was getting to turn around and come back home, I finally really decided that it was the best decision. It's difficult to give up a dream, especially if you are a stubborn goat like me. This is what I thought I wanted for years. However, as soon as I made the decision to return to Salt Lake City and be with my family I started feeling at peace. The only thing I really know is that God works in mysterious ways. I don't regret for a second moving to South Africa. I marvel at the beauty this country has to offer and it's always full of a few surprises. I am constantly reminded when I travel around Southern Africa that God exists. I am convinced that when Heavenly Father created the earth his masterpiece was Africa. I treasure the friendships that I have made. The people of South Africa are so willing to help and show a traveler around. It's amazing. I will miss the braais, the rugby, the animals, the roadtrips, the children, the rooibos tea, the beautiful accents and language, the culture and the sun more than I can describe. But mostly I will miss the wonderful people that I met along the way. Just more reason to visit again and again and again. Already planning the next trip!

If there is anything I really want to say from this post it's that when one door closes another opens. Closing this chapter on South Africa has already opened up the opportunity to follow another dream for me. I will be starting a Master's in Education and Culinary School in January. Yes, that is going to be a lot of school at once, but why wait? It's been nice to take a couple of years off of studying, to live in Connecticut and South Africa and get some traveling out of the way, but hitting the books again just feels right and hopefully in about a year and half I will be fufilling my other dream to teach cooking classes to teenagers and children. And the greatest part of being teacher will be having three months a year to visit my favorite places around the world. How sensational is that!?

For now, I am back in Salt Lake City just enjoying my family and the holidays. Tonight is our Harris Family Nativity Sing A Long and for sure there will be pics. Stay tuned!

a little mini safari...

For fun I decided to take my little South African sisters on a mini safari in Krugersdorp. It was awesome to go on horseback to go on horseback because you can get closer to the animals. We didn't see the giraffe and the lions so much because they were hiding from the lightening, but I still marvel at the beauty of the animals in Africa. A reason to go back again and again (not that I ever needed one). I had a great time with Katlego and Nompumelelo. They have been such a strength to me all four times I have visited Africa. We have such a special relationship and I just love em to pieces. My shwang sisters in Mzantse!

sun city

So towards the end of my time in South Africa I decided to get spontaneous. I woke up on a Thursday and called my other spontaneous friend Andrea and we headed to Sun City for the day. This is a beautiful resort in South Africa! Although it happened to be closed for some stuffy private golf tournament, we ended up taking a cultural village tour and had a ton of fun dancing and getting to know some more about the different tribes in South Africa. We of course also enjoyed the sun and a little dancing. The people of South Africa really know how to jive, I love it!

thanksgiving in south africa...

I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Just because I was half way around the world I wasn't going to let that stop me from partaking of a little turkey. I invited my close friends in Johannesburg over to celebrate with me and we had a great time. I am so thankful for all of thier friendships. When you are away from home there is nothing more comforting than good friends. The cooking and the food was a little intense since all of the sudden I was using celcius and stuff but we came right and over all it was a success. Angeline and Carel gave us a very nice FHE message. Thanks everyone for coming, I miss you already!

Monday, December 1, 2008

christmas tagged.

It's the most wonderful time of the year! And to start celebrating I was Christmas tagged and don't mind it one bit since I get to think more about this super holiday!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
Definatly wrapping paper, although my mom is the queen of the last minute gift bag! love you mom!

2. Real tree or Artificial?
It's a toss up. With the real tree you get the awesome smell, but the fake trees are most definatly easier and less messy and you always get a perfect shape.

3. When do you put up the tree?
The Day After Thanksgiving

4. When do you take the tree down?
This makes me want to cry cause I LOVE LOVE LOVE Christmas trees, but usually around the 1st of Jan.

5. Do you like eggnog?
Only Home Made, spare the spices!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
I am going to have to say my cabbage patch doll I recieved at age five. That was the big thing that year. She had a green dress on and the yellow yarn hair and I remember my mom had to wait for hours in line to get her.

7. Hardest person to buy for?
Employers. I always work for people that already have everything!

8. Easiest person to buy for?
My Dad. He loves books, games, and electronics and he's not afraid to just tell you what he wants which is great! Saves the time guessing.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?
Yes, Martianne found an African Nativity and gave it to me last year for Christmas, it was really special!

10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
Ha, it was a white elephant gift so was supposed to be funny anyway, but it was a cement mold of someone's foot. Feet just gross me out, Eww!

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
The Chrismas Story

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
All year! I love finding creative gifts to give to people!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
Ummm....ok you got me! But it was a nice one!

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
My mom's Christmas Casserole and Cinnamon Rolls

16. Lights on the tree?
Who has a tree without lights?

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Still Still Still
Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
I'm Dreaming of a White Christmas

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
I have traveled the past two Christmas's and it so isn't even nearly the same. I like being home in Salt Lake with the snow and Mom's brunch! Can't wait for that this year!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Well I have been doing a big bow - but I bought a star last year from Pottery Barn for $5.00 - reg $50 - so I'm excited to have a star this year.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Pajamas on Christmas Eve and the rest on Christmas Morning

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?
The Excessiveness. I like my Christmas's to be about tradtion and meaning rather than lots of gifts and sweets. Sometimes it's a struggle to keep everything simple.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color?
Red Red Red

24. Favorite for Christmas dinner?
Ham and Potatoes

25. Favorite family Christmas tradition?
The Harris Family Nativity Sing Along. Our whole extended family gets together. We have awesome costumes and act out the Nativity and sing our favorite carols and eat yummy food. It's usually pretty hilarious, but a great way to remember the birth of our savior and spend time with family!

A Very Merry Christmas Season to everyone.

As for the tag...I am tagging anyone who reads this entry. Can't wait to see how you celebrate!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

i'm so thankful for....

so many things! This thanksgiving I just wanted to list a few of the blessings I have in my life, ok or many in no certain order.

1. opportunities to travel.
2. freedom.
3. family.
4. second chances.
5. the gospel.
6. children.
7. smiles.
8. clean bathrooms.
9. water.
10. sunlight.
11. music.
12. chocolate.
13. guitar hero.
14. friends.
15. camera's.
16. pen pals.
17. health.
18. airplanes.
19. books.
20. flowers.
21. stoves and ovens and braais.
22. food in general.
23. sting.
24. parents.
25. temples.
26. internet.
27. holidays.
28. frisbee.
29. sunday suppers.
30. cupcakes.
31. life.

yep, I am still the luckiest girl in the world!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

football vs. rugby?

So I'm an American, and...I'm a Ute through and through which means that I cheer for red and I absolutely love American football in the fall. But, now I am living in South Africa and tis the season for Rugby, which is also awesome. The South Africans are asking me to choose which is better and the answer is that I'm not going to. I love them both. Football is fun, it's our culture, it's Utah culture, my families culture and yes, they wear helmets and you can fumble the ball in football etc but it's still such fun to watch and be a part of.

It's funny because I get asked questions like, "do you even know what Rugby is?" It's great cause I get to explain that I attended Highland High School and our Rugby team takes Nationals and kills everyone almost every year and my little brother played etc etc. It's nice to have that claim to fame so that atleast the questions stop hey. I must admit, Rugby is a heck of a lot of fun to watch, especially when you are watching the World Champion Springboks of South Africa masacre England etc. Steve, you would love it here, there is Rugby games and Braai's almost every week and the girls even watch and understand this game, it's great! However, I have to admit I was pretty jealous of my fam and friends watching Utah beat BYU yesterday, would have loved to be at that game...but I was busy here watching the Rugby!

Alas, this is just a choice that I can't make and I guess my friends both South African and American will just have to deal, I'm a fence sitter, I enjoy em both! Go Utes, Go Bokke!

sho, this place is stunning...

K, so not to make you even more envious that I get to be in Africa (I can't help it) , but if you haven't realized yet from my pics and my constant blogs about it's beauty, South Africa is absolultely one of the most spectacular countries in the world and its why I keep coming back. My friend Christine and I packed up and took a roadtrip to hike the Drakensburg this week. The Drakensburg is located in the Natal region of South Africa and is the second largest canyon in the world. I betcha didn't know that was here. It was unbelievably green and lush and we had quite the adventure, hiking waterfalls and down "The Crack" which was a forbidden trail. I am a nature girl, I love love love to be outside and camp and build fires and even be dirty sometimes, although I also enjoy the shower afterwards but anyways. We even got to eat guava rolls, yes GUAVA rolls which we don't have in the states and also coconut marshmallows in our s'mores. So delish! I am already planning my trip back to these parts, it's absolutely amazing! Come and visit, come with me...come to Africa!

Friday, November 21, 2008

standing in a holy place

I was so grateful for the opportunity to visit the temple this week. I don't know how much you know about Johannesburg, but with all it's beauty there is a lot of danger here. I am constantly getting warnings about where I should and shouldn't go, and to watch my back as I travel around this city. The temple grounds here are beautiful and as I walked around this week I felt at peace, safe, a shelter from the outside world. I am all to grateful for the comforting spirit that the temples of this world offer and to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I don't know what I would do without the gospel in my life. The Church is the same wherever you go. The members here in South Africa are so good and are examples. I have been fortunate to participate in numerous family prayers, witness baptisms, and to visit the Johannesburg temple often as I have been here. The temple here is stunning and is lucky enough to be one of three in Africa.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I love roadtrips! So a few friends and I decided to get away for a weekend and head to Durban, South Africa. First of all, Durban is beautiul and I loved it there! We had an amazing time just talking in the car, enjoying the scenery, swimming in the Indian Ocean, jumping off the pier and just enjoying not caring about anything for a couple of days. Love you girls, thanks for coming with me!

Monday, November 10, 2008

this is why south africa will never leave my heart

There are so many reasons I have loved my time in Africa, each time I have visited or lived here. Too many really to name, but I wanted to highlight a few just in case you don't know already why I am smitten for this part of the world!

Children: The children I work with are survivors and the most precious things to my heart, they've changed my life!

Elephants: graceful, loyal, strong, basically all that I am striving to be.

Waterfalls: a vivid reminder that God exists.

Jacaranda's: Nuff Said.

Braais: American BBQ's just don't cut it anymore, we need to take lessons from South Africans regarding spices and the way we grill. I'm very serious about this.

Cape Town: The most stunning city in the world.

Diamonds: A girls best friend and most of them come from this part of the world.

Sunsets: At the end of the day, despite the hardships of Africa she is blessed with the glory of a sunset. Spectacular!

Friends: I have met the greatest of people in Africa and I am so grateful for the role each has played in my life over the years. Some I know will be lifelong friends. Love you all!