Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some things I love at Christmastime

There are so many good things this time of year! Here are some of my favorites:

1. Everyone's a little nicer. People say hello or thank you or Merry Christmas. It's just NICE. Yes, there are crabby people out there. But since I've done very little shopping this season I haven't had to run into very many of them, so I still can think that most people are happy.

2. We get to hear wonderful Christmas messages from the leaders of our church. I love the Christmas Devotional! It reminds me that all of the wonderfulness of this season is to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the World. And people throughout the whole world come together to remember and celebrate. It's amazing.

3. Christmas cards! I love getting Christmas cards. Anyone's Christmas cards. I open the mail at work, and I love it when the cards come in. I don't even have to know the people. I love the family pictures and the updates. I mean, it's far better when I get to read a card from someone I know, of course. I love that my mom saves all the family cards so that I can read them when I come home. It's just a nice way of staying in touch.

4. Music! I'm one of those cheese-balls who listens to Christmas music as much as I can during the holidays. And, as much fun as much of the music is, I have found myself drawn more to the sacred music the past few years. I love that popular radio stations can and will play songs rejoicing in the birth of our Savior. It's wonderful! I do still love the lighter music as well. This is my current favorite version of the 12 Days of Christmas. (Don't worry - it's not too long, and it's awesome!)

5. Food. Specifically baked goods. There's going to be a major withdrawl/detox period come January 1st. But for now I'm just taking in every bit of it. :)

That's all for now. I'm sure I'll be back with more things that I love about this time of year.

Adventures 2011

I need some help.

I am starting to put together an actual list for 2011 of different adventures I'd like to go on. But I'd like to hear if anyone has any ideas for me.

What do you think?

I also need a new word for adventure. I mean, it still does the trick, but I'm feeling the need for something new. I checked the thesaurus, but nothing jumped out at me. Thoughts?

Friday, December 10, 2010

My Family = Awesomeness

Sometimes I come up with crazy plans for my family.

Most of the time these plans are dismissed and we all move on.

BUT...This Thanksgiving one of my plans stuck.

In one of my hair-brained schemes, I came up with a Thanksgiving family fun run. In fact, I called it the "1st Ever Harlow Family Run Before You're Hungry." I even had some super amazing t-shirts made.

And everyone jumped on board. People actually thought this was a good idea!

And guess what? We had a great time!

We started and ended at my dad's school. He set up a banner for us and even had a starter's pistol and water bottles. So we ran through the neighborhood (some ran farther than others) in our matching shirts and had a great start to the day.

Thanks, family, for being so awesome and having fun with my crazy plans!

Get ready for next year! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

How Did I Survive?

How did I ever survive winters in places other than California?

I'm currently sitting in my heated office with my coat on - FREEZING!!! Most mornings I fill a cup with hot water, wrap my hands around it until it's cool enough to sip and then drink plain hot water to warm me up.

And we've only hit freezing (literally) temperatures maybe once this year.

How in the world did I live for so many years in places like Utah and The Netherlands?! I know that winter wind blowing right off the North Sea was infinitely colder than the valley fog, so where did all my toughness go?

I may have to get out the "couch sack" tonight. :)

P.S. I am officially against the little oranges that look like they are going to be nice and sweet and turn out to be somewhat sour and full of seeds.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Adventure: Kings Game (with REALLY good seats!)

Once upon a time my boss couldn't use his tickets to a Kings game. Since he is so generous, he offered them to me, and I found three friends (Kristin, Sean, and Ariane) to come with me to the game. It was a dark and stormy night, but our spirits were high as we drove our car straight to the front of the lot with our "H preferred" parking pass. We shook off any chill of the night air by taking a long walk down, down, down the stairs to our seats that were a mere seven rows from the court.

Sitting this close, we realized that these are BIG men who play the game of basketball!

This is the woman assigned to take our orders. Yes, these were the special seats that come with your own menu and serving staff. Though we didn't order anything, it was nice to know that we could. :)

In the end, we got free thunder sticks, cheered loudly, and the Kings won. And we went home happily ever after. The end.

Adventure: Disneyland

Whew! I'm behind in posting, and this has been an adventure-full season. So...Here we go.

The weekend before Halloween, some friends and I decided to take a weekend trip to Disneyland. I think that one word can describe the weekend: whirlwind. But a fun whirlwind. :)

Ariane, Dustin, Chris, Nicole, and I left Sacramento at about 6 pm on Friday, arriving at our hotel at...well - it was late. But don't you worry! We were buying our tickets by 7:45 am Saturday morning so that we could go in right when the park opened. This was a very smart move, because we got on several popular rides before the crowds really got started.

Long story short: We spent 16 hours at Disneyland & CA Adventure and did 30 rides/attractions. I have never spent that many hours at a theme park in one day. It was exhausting, but incredibly fun. My only regret is that we didn't get to go on Peter Pan. Otherwise it was a great trip. Thanks friends!

Since we used our fast passes so efficiently, we really only waited in one long line, and that was for Toy Story. But it's such a fun ride that it was worth it. Here are Chris, Nicole, Ariane, and Dustin in front of the talking (and joking) Mr. Potato Head.

Dustin and Nicole are ready for the Toy Story challenge. Dustin had the high score on this ride thanks to his cross-fit training, but I came in 2nd.

Here's the group at the end of the day. Do any of us have that crazy I've-been-at-a-theme-park-for-more-hours-than-I've-slept-in-the-past-two-nights look? 'Cause we should. :)

Hooray for Disneyland!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Random Wednesday Thoughts

1. I ate a fortune cookie the other day and the fortune said, "Much success will find you in the coming year." Then I ate another one and the fortune said something like, "Take control of your subconscious before someone else does." What does that even mean?! I'm going with the first one for sure.

2. Fresh, warm zucchini bread is wonderful. It just came out of the oven and I'm eating while I type. I think I could eat the whole pan. It's like eating vegetables, right?

3. I love the sound of tearing perforated paper. Like the checks at my job. I don't know why. I told you these were random thoughts.

4. I also love listening to my ipod on shuffle. This is because: a. I hear songs I forgot I had; b. I am reminded that I have great, eclectic taste in music; and c. the juxtaposition of songs in fantastic! I love that I can hear Miles Davis, Sons of Provo, Frank Sinatra, Yellow Card, Barbara Streisand, and Rascal Flatts all in the same afternoon. Currently: Bing Crosby singing "Silent Night." Also, this way it's ok to listen to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. The excuse: "What?! My ipod was on 'shuffle.' It just came up." Brilliant.

5. Speaking of brilliant, my new favorite TV show is just that. Anyone ever watch Top Gear on BBC America? You should. My brother made me watch it a couple of weeks ago and I was not excited, because I thought it would be a lame car show. NOT LAME!!! So funny I was crying. I now have 11 episodes on my dvr and I've converted Ariane.

6. I am so excited for my family to be here next week that I'm about ready to burst!

7. Next Thursday morning will the "1st Ever Harlow Family Run Before You're Hungry." Intrigued? Check back next week for pictures and results. Should be a blast!

Ok - I have a zillion more thoughts, but you'll have to tune in next time to find out what they might be. :)

Last item: Anyone know what the picture below is? I mean - besides a sign that says, "Nando's?" 50 points to the person can guess the significance.

By Popular Demand

Because two people requested pictures of the gourds, here you go. :) They're nothing fancy, but we had fun. It's more like we stained them. Some people paint designs, make them into snowmen, etc. We just made them look fall-like. Clearly I do not have the skills to make them look great in photos, and if I had some fall leaves it would be better, but you at least get the idea. Enjoy! And...if anyone wants to paint gourds next year, I'm in!

*Yes, these were the same three gourds in this whole series of pictures. :)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Adventure: Gourd Festival

I know what you're thinking. "Who even goes to a 'Gourd Festival' and how is it possibly an adventure?' Is that what you were thinking. I knew it. I'm a little psychic. So let me explain.

I'm not sure if this happens in other places, but in California's San Joaquin Valley and surrounding areas, we like to have festivals. These generally revolve around a fruit or vegetable or something for which the area is well known. My hometown of Stockton has the Asparagus Festival. Sometimes these festivals are money traps disguised as celebrations of a particular food. I was greatly disappointed when I went to the chocolate festival (in a town that will remain nameless) and did not find the streets paved in chocolatey goodness. No. In fact, chocolate was hardly anywhere to be found, and the free samples were even more scarce. (We all know that every good festival should have free samples.) There were about a dozen or so tables selling chocolate, and the rest was carnival rides, car shows, concerts, and food stands (none of which sold chocolate). And everything was over priced. But I digress...

Davis Ranch is a farm just east of Sacramento, between my house and my grandparents' house. And apparently (among the other delightful produce that they sell) they are known for gourds, because that is the festival that they hold. My Aunt Lynda and Uncle Mike were in town from San Diego, so my mom, grandma, Lynda, and I spent a lovely Saturday morning with the gourds.

And I have to say - it was a wonderful festival. Free parking and admission put me in a good mood right away. The set-up was clean and well thought out. AND apparently I've been missing out on gourd art for the past 32 years! Some of it was weird and I'd never buy it. But some of it was fabulous! The artists were very friendly and shared techniques and ideas with us.

So...We bought a big bag of raw pick-your-own gourds, and then we cleaned them and painted them. And they came out beautifully! It was really fun. You'll have to stop by and see my gourds sometime. :) And, I think I'll go back next year. Here are a few pictures that I took.

I know these aren't gourds, but they had the most wonderful pick-your-own strawberry patch. They use a hydroponic growing system so they have a ton of berries - and you don't even have to bend down to get them. Genius! And the smell was divine. Here's Lynda, Grandma, and Mom picking berries.

Aren't these gourd-geous? Hahahahaha! I love gourd humor!

So maybe I didn't take any specific pictures of the gourds, but in this picture of a strawberry you can see a big crate of the unfinished ones in the background. See it? Really - there were mountains of gourds.

Oh - and this was my favorite sign found near the goats. "Important safety tip. Thanks Egon."

Adventure: TWINS!

Way back in July, my brother and his wife added TWINS to their family. Mollie was a trooper and carried these bundles of joy all the way to full term! In August, my grandparents and I were able to make the trip to Boise to meet the newest additions to the family - Dylan and Claire. Then I was lucky enough to turn around and visit them again over Labor Day weekend. Three kids = Aunt Heaven. I am so lucky to be an aunt! Love! Love! Love! Here are some picture of the first trip.

Here's Mollie with Claire and Dylan. Doesn't she look fantastic?!

Me and Kalls. We sure do have fun together!

And...sometimes we're a little silly. :)

Kallie, Grandma, Grandpa, Dylan, Me, and Claire. Kallie is an expert roller-blader (as long as you're there to catch her).

What a cute family!!! I wish we all lived closer together!

Monday, November 1, 2010


We're one game away from winning the World Series! So...for all those who thought it would be the Braves in 4, the Phillies in 5, the Rangers in 6, but NEVER the Giants, here's a little music video about how much some people believe in our team. Some people listen to Akon, but Giants fans have Ashkon. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog For...

The NLCS! Yes, my friends, our very own San Francisco Giants are playing for the National League championship. I have therefore changed my blog background to orange and black to help cheer them on.

They split the games in Philadelphia over the weekend, and I think they'll take two of the three at home this week. That would mean that they'd only have to win one more in Philly to take the series. Tune in this afternoon when our boy Matt Cain takes the mound. The Phillies are good, but I think the Giants have it in them this year! Fingers crossed!

By the way...who else loves Cody Ross?! Keep the home runs coming my friend.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Canada - Part 1

Welcome to Vancouver! Apparently June is a little gloom in British Columbia, but it was a-ok. The sun finally broke through, and we very much enjoyed this city.

On our first full day, we took a water taxi from the main city to Granville Island to do some exploring. It was a fun market/shopping place. Here are Kari and David as we waited for the ferry.

Her we are entering the Public Market. This place was great, and filled with AMAZING looking food. We did not eat all of it, but we did find some samples.

Here I am with my cousin Emma. Sadly for Emma, Danny's family didn't come on the trip this year. I guess they thought that leaving the country with Mollie eight months pregnant with twins wasn't such a great idea. So instead of having Kallie to play with, Em got stuck hanging out with all of us adults again. Good thing we enjoy each other!

After shopping and lunch, we walked toward Stanley Park. Along the way we found a hill. Therefore, we needed to roll down it. These things just call to us. Dizzy, but well worth it.

Look at my cute parents holding hands while we walk along the coast. :)

It was kind of a long walk, but we finally made it to Stanley Park. Too bad we didn't realize how HUGE this park was! We only walked a small portion of it, but we did get to see the lawn bowling green.

My dad climbed a hill and took some shots of us walking.

Than we found SWINGS! Kari definitely liked the swings. Can you tell?

We have about a million swing shots. It's what happens when dad's camera has a sports mode. David twisted my swing.

Oh! That was the las picture that I uploaded tonight. I guess that brings us to the end of this post. Stay tuned for further installments. I'll try to come up with more witty commentary. :)

I'm off to Boise again tomorrow. We're driving, so any bets on how long before we drive each other crazy? Don't worry - I have packed a variety of dorky entertainment options. Laptop with two nerdy dvds, kindle, books, ipods with not only music but podcasts. I'm all set! Realistically...I'll sleep most of the time.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I Know...

I realize that I haven't blogged much lately, and I've been taking a little flack for it (you know who you are heckler!). So...I'm back. I'm recommitting to throwing my thoughts out to the internet universe and the eight people who read this blog. :)

So here's a little catch-up from what's been going on in the past few months. Well...maybe I'll break things up into a few posts.

Let me start out by saying that I am now famous in Canada.

Are you shocked?

Yes, I was a guest actress for the entire first act of... (drum roll please)

Ok- so when I say "guest actress" you should read that to mean "volunteer." Here's how it went down.

On our first full day in Vancouver, we went to Granville Island and found out that they had a theater and that this show was playing. Shakespeare on the Beach was sold out, and we wanted to see a show, so this was our next best option. While my mom and uncle Ed were at the box office they told them that they accepted volunteers to be in the show about an hour before curtain. HELLO! Dream come true! How many ham-it-upppers do we have in my family?! SO many. However, I was the only one who wanted to volunteer. Let's face it. It was a spelling bee. I LOVE spelling bees, so this was perfect for me.

Before the show they gave us a little prep, then we took our seats, and I waited to see if my name would be called. It was, I went on stage and was the number 10 speller. Because of my number, they needed me to stay in the show till the end of the 1st act (I didn't know that at the time), so the other people got really hard words and I got "cow." They told us before the show that we had to ask, "May I have the definition please?" and "Can you use it in a sentence please?" When I asked those questions about "cow," I think the answers were something like, "A cow." and "Spell the word cow."

Anyway...sparing you all the rest of the details, I spent the first act on stage - right in the middle of all the singing and dancing and spelling. It was a blast! I finally was eliminated on really hard word that I can't even remember. But my consolation prize was that they sang a song to me. :) And I got a juice box.

It was a fabulous evening. And now I'm famous in Canada. Sort of.

So there you go. The first installment of me being back on track in the blog-o-sphere. Next post I'll go for more pictures.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Check Out My Cool Sister

My sister Kari is now the CHAMPION of the Canoe Races of the World! Check out the link. I think it's pretty darn amazing. Way to go Shut Up and Let Me Row...HEY!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I'll admit it. I'm a fair-weather watch-when-the-world-cup-is-on kind of soccer fan. BUT that still makes me a fan. I watched as the U.S. held on for a (very lucky) well-played tie against the mighty Brits. I have been following scores. I haven't really tried to figure out what happens when there's a tie and how that factors into the tournament, but that's beside the point. I even have started to tune out the amazing horns that South Africa has introduced to all of us through this World Cup.

I have also determined that soccer players are some of the best athletes in the world. Have you all seen how big that field is?! Gigantic! They run THE WHOLE TIME. I get worn out just watching. However, as so accurately pointed out, watching the players is part of the fun. All I'm saying is that it's a bonus, ok?


Oh Canada!

Yes, my friends, I will soon be visiting our great neighbor to the north, Canada. I have never been to this foreign nation before, and I actually had to renew my passport in order to go. (Am I really old enough to have an expired passport? I know I got it in college, but has it been 10 years?! Yes, actually it's been 11. Since I got the passport...Only 10 since graduation. Class of 2000! Holla! Did you know that Shakespeare used "holla" in his writing? Yep. Check out "As you Like It." I know that title should be underlined, but I can't figure out how to do that right now, and I'm into instant gratification with regard to my blog technology. If I can't figure it out I move on. Am I digressing within these parentheses?)

Anyway... I'm headed to Vancouver, BC with the family. Who wants to tell me all of the amazing things I should do while I'm there? My brother wants us to be spontaneous, but I like to have a few options in mind. :)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Adventure: Angel Island

Last Saturday I went on my very first "Adventure with Ariane." She should probably start marketing and charging for these tours. We went with Dustin, Kenny, and Nate to Angel Island. We took our bikes (thank you Kenny for having a truck for all of the bikes!) and rode the ferry from Tiburon to the island. Then we rode around the entire island! Ok- it's not THAT big of an island, but we rode around an entire island. :) It was one of those gorgeous Bay Area kind of days, and even though there were some big hills and we learned more about the not-so-wonderful happenings of the Immigration Station (the very discriminatory Ellis Island of the West), it was really a very fun day. Thanks Ari!

I made everyone take pictures by the actual Angel Island sign. This is me, Kenny, and Dustin (pre-bike ride). Ariane always tells me that "if you don't take pictures of it, it didn't happen." So...we have official documentation.

Look at this view! This is (obviously) a self-portrait, but that view! We rode our bikes down to one of the fort areas where there are picnic tables, and this was our view for lunch. Not bad. I will say that the hill was really steep to get down there and I had to keep telling myself, "Just use your brakes. You're not scared. You're not scared." I was, actually, a little bit scared, but I made it down. The power of positive thinking!

I tried to take one of those pictures where you look like you're squishing the bridge. Clearly it didn't work.

This was Nate, Dustin, and Ariane getting ready to ride to the ferry.

Nate, Kenny, Dustin, and Ari on the ferry on the way to the island. Nate and Kenny do NOT look like they are having fun, but I think they did have at least a little fun. :)

I'm sorry Dustin - I had to take this picture. I took it while I was riding because I couldn't pass it up. A grown man with a tiny backpack (I KNOW it was for water, but still) and both pant legs rolled up showing off the high white socks. Classic.

I also took this one while I was riding. I am a very good bike riding photographer. Point and click, baby.

Oooh! This one I took pointing the camera behind me while I was riding. Serious mad skills!

Thanks everyone for a fun day!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

"Michael J. Fox was Alex P. Keaton"

Every time I roll in my chair at work I feel like Alex P. Keaton from the TV show "Family Ties." Remember the opening song where they always showed him pushing himself in his rolling chair from his desk to someplace to check the answer in a book and then rolling back again? Anyone? No one remembers that? It's just another one of the weird pieces of television folklore stuck in my head? Ok - I can live with that. But I still see that scene in my head almost every time I roll in my chair.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Last of the Short-Lived Food Posts

I really thought that I had so much to post about in the area of "food." Turns out...I don't. So here's my last hurrah for now:

This was our Laurels "Un birthday" (non)Tea Party. My contributions: cupcakes with pink frosting and cucumber sandwiches. And pink lemonade of course. We're so fancy. Aren't these girls just adorable?!

Our New Beginnings (a Young Women Program) cake. We had an Olympics theme, so I make a big cake and covered it with fondant and then made fondant olympic rings in the YW value colors.

This is one of the yummiest apple cakes I've ever eaten. Click here for the recipe. I even used my dehydrated apples from my food storage to make it. SO good!

In my other attempt to use my food storage, I tried making a black bean soup. Basically all you're going to get is the picture of the label. Let's just say that even though the apple cake was a success, my cooking with food storage has not yet been perfected. :) I ate the soup, but it wasn't really very good. I'll give it another go another time.

I'm realizing that this is kind of a boring post. However, I'm now at the end of it. So instead of deleting it I'm just going to go ahead and post it. And then go eat Sunday dinner.