Archive for September, 2013

DIY Italian Pottery

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

I love pottery. I collect vintage California pottery and brought back a couple amazing pieces from Mexico where Rob & I honeymooned. In Arizona, we have California pottery aplenty.

A couple of years ago I discovered Italian pottery at an antique store in California. I bought a lovely little vase; glazed in olive green and turquoise with a stamped floral pattern.

My little vase is a piece of Italian pottery that was imported to the states by the German company Rosenthal Netter. Many of the pieces were designed by Aldo Londi, who also designed for Bitossi, an Italian pottery company famous for their elaborate textures and Rimini Blue glaze.

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While a search for “Italian Pottery” or “Bitossi Pottery” on Etsy or eBay will return lots of results,; it tends to be quite spendy. So, while I wait for the Pottery Gods to bless me with a few affordable pieces of Italian pottery, I thought it would be fun to try and make a few vases of my own.

For this project you’ll need fine grit sandpaper, a glass vase, oven-bake clay (I like Sculpey), a rolling pin, acrylic paint, paintbrushes, high gloss clear acrylic sealer and stamps, clay tools or household items to create different textures on your vase.


1. Sand your vase lightly and wipe clean.
2. Knead your polymer clay until soft.
3. On a smooth surface, roll clay out into thin sheets. I’d recommend rolling out smaller pieces and applying them individually.
4. Apply clay to vase in 2-3 small sections.
5. Blend joined edges using a light touch or a clay tool.
6. Using clay tools, stamps or household items you’ve collected, add desired textures to create your design.
7. Bake for 20 minutes at 375°, or according to package instructions.
8. Cool in oven.
9. Apply paint (I used these in Cayman Blue, Cerulean Blue & Fresh Foliage).
10. Seal your piece and give it a glossy finish by spraying 1-3 coats of high gloss clear acrylic sealer. Be sure to let it dry between coats.


I had a lot of fun working on this project. I actually picked up a few more inexpensive glass vases so that I could make a couple more! The best part is you can choose to use traditional colors or select paint colors that will coordinate with your decor.



Need some inspiration? Head over and check out my I <3 Italian Pottery board on Pinterest.

Racing in the Smartphone Age

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013


Five years ago, I walked a half marathon with my good friend, Sonia. When we planned our training walks, we had to use an online map tool to trace out where we would walk and determine the mileage. We then used a stopwatch to time our walk and did some quick math to determine our pace.

Training in the smartphone age is infinitely better (as I learned when training for the 2013 Tinkerbell Half Marathon). There are now apps on the market that will track your pace and mileage as you walk or run, with no pre-planning needed, and many of these apps are free.

Why is pace important? For runners, it relates to a goal. Most runners I know improve their pace over time, and each race is a chance to achieve a personal best. By keeping track during your run, you will know where you stand in comparison to where you want to be, thus enabling you to make changes during each run you do in order to hit that goal.

For walkers (like myself), most races have a minimum pace you have to hit in order to be able to finish the race. A blogger that I follow summarizes it better than I can here, but unlike runners, walkers are worried about getting picked up by “the dreaded golf cart.” Most races specify that if you cannot finish within their allotted time, that you can be picked up at any point, and thus not finish the race. No one wants to work out for months and then not finish, right? So, for walkers, knowing that you can consistently perform at the minimum pace is crucial to getting your bling at the finish line.

The following are highly-rated apps that allow you to track your walk/run using GPS:

MapMyFitness (This is the one I used during my training.)
Nike+ Running App
RunKeeper Pro

In addition to keeping you motivated during a training workout, it’s always good to have an arsenal of websites in your back pocket of other racers. Reading their accounts of the highs and lows of training will make you feel like you aren’t alone and on those days you just want to throw in the towel that you should keep going!

Some of my favorite go-to racers:

The Matt Morgan Weblog: Friend. Nice guy. For you everyday runners, THE guy to follow.
I thought they said RUM: Started with the Couch to 5K program, now a regular half marathoner.
FAB Running: Great spot for tips, inspiration, and reviews of products and nutrition for racing.
According to Kelly: Mother of three. Runner. Shares my love of the Run Disney races.
13 in ’13: Alex is always running. Literally. He is striving to run 13 marathons in 2013. I am tired already.

What are some of your favorite technology tools or blogs for racing? Help out a fellow racer by posting in the comments below.

Bargains by the Scoopful

Monday, September 9th, 2013

When was the last time you stopped by the bulk food section of your local grocery? If you’ve never experienced the frugal, sustainable, delicious treats in the bulk bins or it has been a while since you last indulged now is the time to check it out.

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Why bulk?
Price – There are amazing treasures to be had for pennies on the dollar compared to packaged foods. For example, one local retailer offers organic quick cooking oats in the breakfast food section for $6.99/32oz pkg. A few aisles over in the bulk section those same organic oats are priced at $1.49/lb or $2.98/32oz. That’s a savings of $4.01 over the prepackaged product.

Freshness – Bulk foods move quickly so the product tends to be really fresh. In the oats example, think of how long it might take your family to eat two pounds of dry oats. If you purchase just as much as you need for a week or two you win twice: fresh oats for your table plus you get to keep more of your money for a longer time. If you buy the big package, the store gets the full purchase price up front while you get to store surplus oats as they age in your pantry.

Packaging – When you buy bulk you cut out all of the excess packaging that might otherwise end up in a landfill. Even if your family recycles, packaged goods force you to bring home extra “stuff” In the form of boxes, bags and plastic films. With bulk, you bring home a single plastic bag that can be reused as a trash bin liner, taken along when you walk the dog or even recycled on your next trip back to the grocery.

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Where to shop
Bulk foods are available at many grocery store chains but selection can be limited compared to natural food stores. There are some really impressive bins of healthy choices at Whole Foods and Sprouts. For the price conscious shopper who needs a bargain and a lot of options but doesn’t necessarily require organics, Winco foods can’t be beat. Some stores even have a link on their website that allows you to look up nutrition facts and recipes for their bulk foods.

What to buy
Start with pantry staples like salt, sugar, flour, oats or rice. Buy just enough though; don’t let the bargain price lead you to over-buy or you forfeit some of the benefit. Try a scoop or two of granola, nuts, candy or seeds. Next time you are planning to bake skip the baking aisle entirely and pick up your flour, sugar, oats and chocolate chips from the bulk section.

Even though you are buying in manageable quantities you’ll need to store the food at home so it stays fresh. My pick: Mason jars, of course! Jars allow food to be stored safely in glass and away from scary plastic chemicals. The clear glass makes it easy to see the food in your pantry which makes you more likely to use up what you have instead of wasting or buying duplicate. For dry goods a lid that has been used for sealing a jar in the past can be washed and reused, turning a single-use item into a reusable item.

No matter what you choose, if you try bulk food you will find good, fresh products that keep your wallet full and your carbon footprint light. The beauty of bulk is that no matter what new item you try, you are not making a commitment so try a scoop of adventure today!

Are you a bulk food newbie? Check out this video from Sprouts.

Experienced bulk buyers, what are some of your favorite finds?

Friday Finds: Football Party Snacks

Friday, September 6th, 2013

We don’t know about you, but for the Wilderness Girls, the best part of football season is the good eats! Today, we’re featuring links to a few healthy and not so healthy recipes that will keep you and your sports FANatics happy.

Baked Chili Cheese Fries: My mother used to make the best pan fried potatoes I’ve ever had in my life. She would make them a small batch at a time and dump them onto paper towels for us to quickly salt. Take it easy on yourself and bake these fries but keep maximum flavor with some chili and cheese.

Fried Guacamole: This is the most interesting use of guacamole I’ve ever seen. I’m convinced that Joy must be an evil genius.

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing: Love the taste of buffalo wings but don’t want heavy fried food? Try this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Salad with homemade Blue Cheese Dressing. It’s crunchy, filling and has all the delicious flavors you get with an order of wings but not the stomach ache and guilt. This salad is so good that even Scott will make a meal out of it.

Restaurant Style Queso-Blanco: Who doesn’t love queso?

Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos: These taquitos are always a hit in my house; I think they’re tastier than the fried version. And, they freeze great, so make up a big batch and easily feed your Monday Night Football guests for the next couple months.

Greek Seven-Layer Dip: One of my FAVORITE food bloggers, Sweet Peas & Pumpkins, came up with this twist on the classic seven-layer dip. Instead of the classic beans/salsa combo, she goes Greek with hummus, olives, and veggies. I made this for a happy hour and it was a huge hit. Pair it up with pita or pita chips, tortilla chips, or your favorite veggies. The best part? It’s incredibly simple and quick to put together.

Roasted Chickpeas: Want an alternative to roasted peanuts? This is the recipe for you. Roasted chickpeas have a great crispy texture and are super filling. This recipe features curry, but you can play up whatever seasonings you want, sweet or savory.

Classic Guacamole: My family’s favorite football party snack is guacamole. This quick stop motion video has a great recipe, even though I would skip the tomato.

Good Eats Swedish Meatballs: A recipe poem: Meatballs are perfect football food. Alton’s recipes sing to my inner nerd. For there’s real science behind his treats. That’s why his dishes are such Good Eats.

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 and you could be featured on

Your Green Football Season

Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Photo credit:

Photo credit:

Tonight the Baltimore Ravens take on the Denver Broncos to begin the 2013 NFL season. Last week the NCAA football season opened. We’re coming up on four straight months of tailgates, parties, sports rivalries and big games. For many people this is the start of “party season” because in addition to college and professional football regular season we have Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day and Super Bowl Sunday to celebrate.

It is our time to party but it is the NFL’s time to get down to business. I never gave it much thought before I stumbled upon an article highlighting the sustainability efforts of the NFL. They’re focusing on NFL events, facilities and football clubs in an effort to minimize waste, reduce their environmental impact, build energy efficient office buildings and encourage teams follow sustainable practices. This got me thinking that if the NFL can green their football season maybe we can green ours, too. Following the 4R’s of Sustainability – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rethink – you can minimize the eco-impact of your football parties.


* Fewer car trips equal fewer trips to the gas pump so carpool to games or friends’ homes to watch the game.

* When it is your turn to host you can reduce paper consumption by skipping paper invitations. Instead, spread the word via text, Facebook event or

* Reduce your landfill contribution by choosing less packaging whenever you can. When you make your own veggie tray instead of buying the pre-packaged one you save money and stay in control of the ingredients. Less celery, more snap peas!


* Don’t follow the siren song of the pre-printed paper goods. I know they make cute paper cups with footballs printed on them but you already have dishes and serveware at home. With a little planning you can create a much nicer tablescape, so leave the gridiron themed plates at the party store.

* A real pint glass will maximize your beer enjoyment, especially if you chill it in the freezer before serving. Pass over the plastic cups in favor of the real thing.


* When you have several guests over for a party it’s a great idea to set up several separate clearly marked recycle & trash stations around your home and patio.

* Keep it clean! Use care not to contaminate recycling loads with food waste like greasy pizza boxes and leftovers.


* Buy beer in kegs instead of cans. It’s fresher, tastier and it comes with far less packaging. You can find some great tips for a more sustainable brew here.

* Try a local specialty. Locally produced products are the freshest and there’s a sense of hometown pride to enjoy when the best products are made right here in your own neighborhood. Also, local products help fight carbon emissions because they don’t take long truck rides to get from the producer to your home.

* Go organic where you can. Organic foods are grown without the use of chemical pesticides. Visit the Environmental Working Group’s website for their Dirty Dozen list of fruits and vegetables with the highest levels of chemical residue. This will give you a place to start when adding organic to your diet.

Now that we have some tips to get us started, let’s talk about what else we can do to minimize the impact of every party we host from now until the big game in February. Do you have any great ideas for tailgate or outdoor parties? How about some thrifty ideas for reused or recycled party décor? Please leave a comment to let us know about your favorite sustainable party tips.

YOU Can Race a Half Marathon

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

I know what some of you are thinking.

“Race a half marathon? That’s crazy talk! You get out of here!”

I am NOT crazy. And you CAN do it! And even better, you don’t have to be a runner, or even in shape, to get started. I walked in the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in 2013 – that’s right walked – and it was a total blast.


Step 1: Pick a half marathon and sign up. (most races are non-refundable, so signing-up forces you to commit). There are some REALLY fun races out there. Two organizations that I have raced with before – Run Disney and the Rock & Roll Marathon Series are a great place to start your search.

Step 2: Decide if you are going to walk or run. You can find the training program I used for walking here, and a running one here.  (And walkers, no matter what some of the sites say, there are many people who walk a half marathon, so don’t let that stop you.)

Step 3: Put training days on your calendar and get started!

In a future post, I will be reviewing some racing blogs and racing apps that you can use for your training.

Have you ever raced in a half marathon before? Do you have any tips or tricks that our first-time marathoners should know about? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.

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Etsy Gift Guide: Birthday – for your BFF

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

What do you buy for the girl who has everything? Ok, she may not have everything, but your BFF can probably purchase most of the things she can’t live without. When gift shopping for my BFF, I’m always on the hunt for lovely, unique items that she never knew she needed.


1. Best Friends Print Set
2. Princess Bride Quote Pencils
3. Pink Ceramic Mug
4. Granny Chic Mirror
5. Salted Caramel Brownies
6. Best Friends Whale Necklace Set
7. Love Knot Rose Gold Ring
8. Oh Darling Journal
9. You Are My Very Best Friend Print
10. Marshmallow Bubble Bar
11. French Macaron Sampler
12. Wooden Narwhal Broach
13. Tiny Pot with Air Plant
14. Aztec Print iPhone Case Set

Need more gift ideas? Head over and check out my bff gift guide list on Etsy.