Archive for the ‘TWG’ Category

How Is It November Already?

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

Have you ever had time get away from you and then realize months have passed right before your eyes? We just totally had that happen.

In April we posted that we were going to take a few weeks off for vacations and other events taking up some time in our lives, and that few weeks quickly turned into a few months. After our latest annual Fall Foliage trip, we realized how much we missed sharing our stories, so we are happy to announce that we’re back! Starting next week we return with posts on what we have been up to while we were away, as well as sharing some of our favorite holiday tips for 2014.

We truly value all of you that come with us on this journey that is “The Wilderness Girls” blog and hope you will join us again as we strike out on more adventures in the coming year.

Welcome back! And seriously, how is it November already?

It’s a Wilderness Out There

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Dear Friends,

April has been a full, exciting and, frankly, exhausting month for The Wilderness Girls. We have traveled for work and for fun and for work again. Big events, heavy workloads in our day jobs and family members who needed our help have made it tough to post on our regular schedule so we are taking the rest of April as a mini-vacation to rest, recharge and get ahead of our crazy schedules.

We love our readers and our blog and we appreciate your support. See you in 2 weeks!

Warm Regards,
Christina, Jenny and Rachael

Our Favorite Champagne Cocktails

Friday, December 27th, 2013

I can’t believe Christmas is over! Soon, we’ll be counting down – 3..2..1..2014! You’ll need a festive, fizzy drink to toast the new year. As promised in last week’s post, I’m back to share a few of the Wilderness Girls favorite champagne cocktails. Make one the signature drink for your New Years Eve celebration, or set out a variety of fruits (pomegranate seeds, strawberries, raspberries, clementines) and let your guests design their own champagne cocktail.

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Jenny’s Pick: Peach Bellini

6 oz. Prosecco
3 oz. Frozen Peach Purée
Peach Slices (for garnish)

Combine prosecco and peach puree in a chilled champagne glass. Garnish with peach slices.

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Rachael’s Pick: Prosecco with Fruit
adapted from an Italian Bella Vita Recipe

6 oz. Prosecco
2-3 Clementine Slices
Pomegranate Seeds

Place clementine slices and pomegranate seeds in a champagne glass. Pour prosecco over fruit.

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Christina’s Pick: Brunch Punch

6 oz. Champagne
3 oz. Orange Juice
Splash Ginger Ale
Splash Grenadine
1 Maraschino Cherry (for garnish)

Pour champagne into mason jar; add orange juice and ginger ale. Slowly add grenadine and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Cheers!

Friday Finds: Toys!

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Ever find something on your trip down the internet rabbit-hole that you just have to share with the world? The Wilderness Girls do! Every week we will link you to our favorite bits of the internet right here on Friday Finds. Click the links below to check out this week’s selections – it’s all about toys!

OneWorld Futbol: A nearly indestructible soccer ball, that will stay inflated even if it’s punctured. The best part? If you buy one, they’ll give one to an organization that works with disadvantaged youth.

Homemade Toy Ideas: Lots of great ideas for toys you can DIY with household items you typically throw away!

GoldieBlox: Even back in the day when I was in college, engineering schools were desperately trying to get more female students to join their schools. Someone got smart and decided that it might be a good idea to start marketing to girls at a younger age who are interested in building. Check out this great commercial for GoldieBlox (and I also like how they took a Beastie Boys song and turned its lyrics into a more empowering message).

Melissa and Doug Toys: When Jenny told me about GoldieBlox, I got excited thinking about toys. I love the idea of giving girls lots of choices in playthings. Some of our favorite toys come from Melissa and Doug. These toys are often handmade of natural materials. I couldn’t find a specific sustainability statement from the company but I know these toys are durable and can entertain many children in their useful life. There’s one of those 4R’s I love – Reuse!

Green Toys for Kids: A more exhaustive search for eco-friendly toys brought me to the inhabitat.com 2012 green gift guide for kids. It looks like they publish their guide in early December so I hope we see an update in a few weeks but there are some great buys here that will teach the kiddos important lessons about environmental sustainability while they have a lot of holiday fun.

Don’t forget to check out our blogroll in the menu bar to see more sites that we are addicted to. Find something that you would like to see shared on Friday Finds? Send us an e-mail at editor@thewildernessgirls.com and you could be featured on TheWildernessGirls.com.

Tips for a Successful Family Photo Shoot by Bryan Babich Photography

Thursday, November 21st, 2013

Bryan here, photographer at Bryan Babich Photography and Wilderness Hub. I have been looking forward to this Wilderness Hub’s takeover of the blog for a while.

If your family is anything like ours, you seize the opportunity of having everyone together on Thanksgiving to capture the classic annual holiday photo.  Before you pick up that camera, Polaroid Instamatic or iPhone, here are a few quick tips that will get your shot to look a little closer to a modern Norman Rockwell painting than something from the awkward family photos website.

Wear solid colors.
Ditch those crazy patterns that bring a bit of fun and flare to everyday life, and opt for solid colors, as patterns can be distracting. That being said, you don’t have to go to extremes to ensure that everyone is in white shirts and blue jeans. Choose solid pieces, in colors that are not overwhelming, to bring a little more harmony to the photo.

Pick your spot.
I know a few people who have already put up their Christmas décor. If this includes you, now is the perfect time to capitalize on that. If not, no problem. Find a roomy area of your home or outside to be the backdrop of your photo.

Do not shoot into the light.
Avoid taking pictures where the subjects are backlit (meaning the light is coming from behind the subject). You want to make sure that the subject is facing the light so that their face is not in shadow. This tip really is an oldie but a goodie, but because people can get lost in the moment, it is worth mentioning.

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Don’t shoot your subjects in direct sunlight, or with the sunlight behind them. (Jenny is providing a prime example of the face you will get if you do so.)

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Do try to get everyone out of direct sunlight, to lessen the squint effect, if shooting in the morning.

Avoid the firing line.
I can’t even begin to tell you how many family photos I have seen (or family photos I have been in) where people are arranged in a straight line on a flat plain. The idea is that you are taking a family photo, not lining up the “usual suspects,” so mix things up. The tallest people should be in the back and towards the center, shorter people and little ones in the front. Arrange members of the family to show how they are connected to one another.

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Don’t mix loud prints or line up your family as if you are trying to recreate the poster for “The Usual Suspects.”

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Do go for solid colors, group family members by height and connection and flash a big smile.

Why so serious?
The stoic serious look is out; smiles and connectivity are in. Give that camera a smile. Ask everyone in the photo to think about his or her favorite Christmas moment while looking at the camera, or a favorite family moment. You would be surprised how thinking about those moments actually translate to the final image.

Have fun.
Grab a bright red fedora, some reindeer antlers or a Santa hat and enjoy the moment. Fun spots of color and shapes can make the image memorable and fun to look at.

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Now that you have the secrets to a great shoot, grab your camera, and your loved ones, and snap that perfect family photo!

Honoring Our Veterans

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Veteran’s Day was first celebrated in 1919 to commemorate the first anniversary of the armistice of World War I. Fighting ceased on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month – November 11, 1918. President Wilson proclaimed Veteran’s Day a national holiday intended to celebrate and honor the American service men and women for their bravery, patriotism and service. You can learn more about this holiday by visiting the US Department of Veterans Affairs online.

The Wilderness Girls all have special veterans in our lives – people we love who have loved and served this country, protecting us from dangers most people can’t imagine. Nobody knows what it is like to serve unless they have taken that oath and lived that life. Today Christina and Rachael are honoring two veterans in their lives by telling their stories.

Christina’s Grandfather: Jack E. Grant

My grandpa Jack E. Grant (1924-2011) was a veteran of World War II; he served as a pilot in the United States Navy. Jack was a handsome, charismatic, outgoing man with lots of stories to tell. Only he rarely said anything about his time in the service – I can only assume his silence was a result of the tragedy he experienced at such a young age. He was a larger than life figure and so much of what we know about his service feels fantastical and after so many years the truth and myth have blurred together.

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One of the last conversations we shared is one that I will hold close to my heart for as long as I live. It took place during a chaotic time for our family. My grandfather, faced with losing his home and independence sat with me in the rehabilitation wing of a hospital in his small Montana town. It was one of the first times he’d opened up about that part of his life to me. As we reflected on the many ways technology has changed pilot training I asked him how he learned to fly. His eyes as big as saucers, “they put me in the plane and made me fly”, he replied matter-of-factly. He went on to admit that he could still see the faces of the friends he’d lost at sea; images burned into his brain long ago. One of those friends was lost off of the end of the carrier they were stationed on together and he attended his funeral in the middle of the ocean. Behind his watery eyes I could see the open footlocker that held all of those excruciating memories for so many years close. For my grandpa’s generation (the greatest), service wasn’t a sacrifice; it was simply what you did. You didn’t regale your family and friends with stories from the front lines, you locked those memories away and carried the burden on your own.

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Next July will mark three years that he’s been gone. I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t give him nearly enough time while he was here with us on Earth. When I was younger I thought him old fashioned and stubborn. I resented the fact that I knew so little about the head of our family, that he expected me to be the one to reach out. But, now I reflect on the result of my reaching out – he opened up, and I have the memory of one conversation that I’ll carry with me always. We’re rapidly losing the men and women of our greatest generation to death, it’s estimated that we lose someone from their generation every two minutes. If we don’t ask, they might not share, leaving those memories gone forever.

Rachael’s Father-in-Law: Bobby Ruelas

My father-in-law Bobby Ruelas served in the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War. He was stationed in Thailand and later in Vietnam as a supply clerk for 3rd Air Marines. His primary duties were moving supplies and jet parts and making sure they were available to the Marines where and when they were needed.

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He was fortunate in that he was never sent into active combat at the front line out in the bush, but the base at which he served was deep within the jungle and it was bombed often. There were three major targets at the base: the ammo dump where missiles were stored, the revetment where the jets were parked and the supply huts where he worked. When I asked him about that he told me one day a M-105 (missile) came through the tin roof of the Quonset Hut he worked in and landed about 20 feet from him but it didn’t explode right away. All of the men immediately dropped to the floor and crawled toward cover. The bomb squad was called in and the missile was a dud, but that kind of danger was part of their life every day.

Even toward the rear of the fighting there was really never a moment of safety. In the line of duty he was exposed to Agent Orange, which was a chemical defoliant used to clear the jungle of trees and plants so the enemy couldn’t hide under the lush foliage. In the years after it was shown to have terrible health consequences and he is living with those effects today. When the Marines of the Vietnam era came home they were greeted with hostility instead of respect. There were protesters at the airport when Bobby arrived back in the US after his tour and they spat on him and called him murderer and baby killer. And then there were the nightmares. Still, to this day Bobby identifies as a Marine. He says once a person is a Marine there is no going back. His service changed him, in some ways for the better and in other ways for the worse. When I asked him if it was 1970 and he had it to do all over again what he would choose, he didn’t hesitate when he said he would enlist again. Semper Fidelis.

If you have veterans in your life, take a minute today to let them know how important their service is and how much they are appreciated. We would love to hear your stories in the comments below. You can also share photos of your veteran(s) on Instagram and use the tag #ilovemyveteran.

Friday Finds: 11/1/13

Friday, November 1st, 2013

Ever find something on your trip down the internet rabbit-hole that you just have to share with the world? The Wilderness Girls do! Every week we will link you to our favorite bits of the internet right here on Friday Finds. Click the links below to check out this week’s selections!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes: Not sure what to do with all those leftover peanut butter cups? (A problem I have never had.) You can make cupcakes like Joy the Baker.

Creepy Cocktail: This drink is at the top of the list for next year’s pumpkin carving party. Soo gross, but I love it.

Candy Cocktail Rimmers: For all you adults in the house, I suggest you stash some of your kid’s candy and save it for these fantastic candy-based cocktail rimmers. Cheers! (There are also some links at the bottom of this blogger’s post with candy bar cheesecake recipes.)

Sweets for Soldiers: This Halloween candy donation program is designed for kids with food allergies and soldiers on deployment. For many kiddos with food allergies, the end of a night of trick-or-treating means much of their haul goes in the trash. With the Sweets for Soldiers program those treats go to brighten the day of a service man or woman spending the holiday far from home. Oh, and the drop offs are dentist offices. Less candy = less cavities. Win-win-win!

Don’t forget to check out our blogroll in the menu bar to see more sites that we are addicted to. Find something that you would like to see shared on Friday Finds? Send us an e-mail at editor@thewildernessgirls.com and you could be featured on TheWildernessGirls.com.

Happy Halloween! (“I Want Candy!” Contest)

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. There are fun costumes, pumpkin carving parties, and you have a ready-made excuse to drink apple cider margaritas and maybe even sneak a few pieces of candy for breakfast!

To celebrate this awesome season, The Wilderness Girls are excited to introduce the “I Want Candy!” contest. The lucky winner will receive a selection of candy The Wilderness Girls would most like to see in our Trick-or-Treat bags. To enter, just add a comment below with your information and tell us about the best costume you’ve ever worn. “Like” us on Facebook to get bonus entries.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday, 11/5 via e-mail and Facebook. 

The Wilderness Girls wish you a happy, safe and super-spooky Halloween!

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Let’s Make: Sugar Skull Crafts

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

While we each have our own interests, hobbies and obsessions, like many of you, The Wilderness Girls all love Pinterest…a lot. We use the site in so many different ways, from collecting images to sharing sites we love. Last December, to celebrate the holidays, we got together for brunch and an afternoon of crafting. We each worked on a project inspired by a craft that we’d pinned. We’ve even used the site to plan our annual Fall Foliage trip, pinning cabin options, recipes to try and info on hiking trails to check out.

To celebrate Halloween, we wanted to do another Pinterest challenge; each girl was tasked with finding a pin to inspire a craft that fit our theme. What was the theme you ask? Sugar skulls. If you’ve scoured Halloween themed pins lately, you’ve probably noticed they’re everywhere; and we’re smitten. We love the intricate patterns, rainbow of colors and that no two are alike.

Christie’s sugar skull craft was inspired by this pin.

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From Christie: “I went crazy with Dia de los Muertos this year and I recruited Scott, my sister and a friend to help paint a variety of skulls for an alter. When I saw the pins for sugar cube skulls, I knew it would be the perfect compliment to a painting party. By buying a cheap skeleton candy mold, you can create your own skull and bone cubes with flavors for champagne cocktails.”

Christina loved that her sugar skull craft, inspired by this pin could be used outdoors.

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From Christina: “As I was scouring Pinterest for a sugar skull themed craft, I was looking for something that I wouldn’t have to put away with my Halloween decorations. I love the folk art decor that surrounds the Dia de los Muertos holiday and was looking for something that could be on display all year long. I like to have lots of plants around the house, so when I saw these sugar skull plant pots, I knew this was the perfect project for me. These pots add a pop of color to the room and bring a smile to my face!”

Jenny loved that this pin used puff paint to create an intricate design.

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From Jenny: “Being the least crafty of our incredibly talented group of Wilderness Girls, I wanted to pick a medium that I knew would be relatively easy to work with, so flashing back to my childhood in the 80s, puffy paint was a natural choice. It’s fun, gives great texture, dries within four hours, and is easy to control. For those of you with kids, this would be a perfect craft for a Halloween party.”

Rachael created a funky broach using this pin as inspiration.

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From Rachael: “As a native Midwesterner I had celebrated All Souls Day in church but I had never seen the observance of Dia de los Muertos. What color, fanfare and celebration! When I saw I knew I had to have one of my own. It took some time to plan out the design – it certainly wasn’t as easy as I expected – but I love the results and can’t wait to sport my new Day of the Dead broach.”

Need more inspiration? Check out these awesome sugar skull DIY projects:

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1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7., 8., 9., 10.

How do you use Pinterest? Have you ever gotten together with your pals for a Pinterest challenge? So many people complain that the site has made it harder to get crafty. We think this is a great way to get together with friends and actually use an image or tutorial you’ve pinned to create something amazing.

Don’t forget to follow the Wilderness Girls on Pinterest!

P.S. Remember, homemade ≠ perfect. Just have fun!

Friday Finds: 10/25/13

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Ever find something on your trip down the internet rabbit-hole that you just have to share with the world? The Wilderness Girls do! Every week we will link you to our favorite bits of the internet right here on Friday Finds. Click the links below to check out this week’s selections!

Get Your Puzzle On and Crowd Source Some Science: Love history and puzzles? Check out this link to assist some scientists in piecing together some ancient monument. The site goes live today!

Greg Hoy discusses his peer review: It blows my mind that a CEO would discuss his shortcomings so openly and honestly and take accountability in such a direct way. It makes me want to work for this guy which is strange because it’s all about what he sucks at. It’s just so great that he bothered to have his peers review him at all and that he genuinely cares about what they have to say.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Donuts: I used this recipe to make mini donuts for our pumpkin carving party. They were a hit!

Baked Chicken Taquitos: I <3 Our Best Bites! This is my go-to recipe when I want to eat “junk food” without the guilt. Don’t tell anyone, but I actually prefer these over their fried cousin. I sub flour tortillas for corn and Greek yogurt cream cheese.

Apple Cider Margarita: Another party favorite. I came across a photo of this drink on Instagram and knew I had to make it. Cider and tequila…how can you go wrong?

Spicy Popcorn: Rob made this popcorn for the party and it smelled so good while it was cooking! It’s sour and spicy and I munched on the leftovers all weekend. You should try it.

The Top 13 Theme Park Haunted Mazes in the World: Count me out for all of these. For those of you who like to be scared, these look amazing!

Haunted House Reaction Photos: A Haunted House in Canada set up a camera to capture reactions to people encountering something frightening. The shots are hysterical!

The Island of the Dolls: What is creepier than an island filled with broken dolls? The legend behind the island. Check out one of Mexico’s creepiest sites – The Island of the Dolls.

Bizarre Sewing Patterns: Yesterday I suggested sewing your own Halloween trick-or-treat bag. However it is possible to take the Halloween sewing too far as evidenced by this collection of patterns from the 80s and 90s. These may very well have been the scariest part of Halloween. Friends don’t let friends dress as clowns!

Don’t forget to check out our blogroll in the menu bar to see more sites that we are addicted to. Find something that you would like to see shared on Friday Finds? Send us an e-mail at editor@thewildernessgirls.com and you could be featured on TheWildernessGirls.com.