Archive for October, 2013

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!

Poppin’ Tags: Halloween at the Thrift Shop, Part 2

Monday, October 28th, 2013

As discussed in my previous post, finding Halloween costumes as a woman is challenging. So, instead of buying something that is premade, I usually hit up thrift shops and discount stores to create my own costume. You can read all my tips on how to get started, as well as the first two of my four costume boards, by clicking the link above.

Below are my final two costume boards and shopping lists. This time we cover two more female icons, one for style (Audrey Hepburn’s Holly Golightly from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) and one for aviation (Amelia Earhart).

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1. LBD (Little Black Dress) (you will never be able to replicate Holly’s exactly, so just buy a LBD that makes you feel like a million bucks)
2. False eyelashes (her make-up wasn’t bold but she had amazing lashes, so do falsies if you can, and if not, use a bold mascara)
3. Pink lipstick (for this item and the eyelashes, stop by your local drug store or dollar store to purchase these)
4. Black sunglasses
5. Black evening gloves
6. Black heels (just like the LBD, find a pair that’s comfortable, no need to find an exact replica of Holly’s shoes)
7. Multi-stranded pearl necklace
8. Mini-tiara (you may have to head online for this one)
9. (not pictured) If you want to get fully into character, grab a croissant and coffee, and head to your local Tiffany’s.

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1. Brown leather or canvas jacket (just find a brown, or even black, jacket that has a similar style to an aviator jacket)
2. Khaki pants
3. Brown knee-high boots
4. Goggles (if you can’t find them thrifting, try a motorcycle shop)
5. Brown trapper hat (if you can’t find it thrifting, try a sporting goods/hunting store)
6. White t-shirt
7. Cream/White/Tan scarf

Have you ever put together your own costume before? Or are you going to this year? Share your ideas and success stories below (and share your pictures with us via Facebook or Instagram (tag them with #thewildernessgirls) if you have them).

Happy Halloween!

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.

Trick-or-Treat

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

One week from today the streets will crawl with over 41 million little ghouls and goblins, trick-or-treat pails in hand, seeking confectionary fortune and nougat-glory.

Forty one million trick-or-treaters equals a heck of a lot of these guys:

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Jack-o-lantern treat bucket
Photo credit: Dollartree.com

With a price tag of $1 this really is a single-use item. In the ten to twelve year span that your children will trick-or-treat, you will spend at least that many dollars but likely more on single use pumpkin pails that will inevitably become lost/broken/un-cool and end up in landfill before the next year. Instead of buying one of these jovial plastic fellows each year, why not create a lasting Halloween Trick-or-Treat bag? It will be a special part of your Halloween tradition that will also hold up to years of treasure hunting for golden caramel goodness in fun size packs.

The Trick-or-Treat bag is a simple project. Novice sewers could consider this as a first project and a low-risk way to build skill. Those with basic skills will find that it is easy to put together in just about a half hour. Advanced sewers can customize and get fancy with linings, notions and appliqués.

Successful Sewing Projects Start Here
Thinking back to my post You Can Sew Your Own Way I shared my top five tips for successful sewing which you will want to use with this and every sewing project.

1. Success begins at the fabric shop
2. You must pre wash
3. Prep your gear
4. Iron out the wrinkles
5. Measure twice, cut once

Shopping List

1/2 yard Halloween fabric
1 yard lightweight iron-on interfacing, enough to cover the whole piece of fabric. (I used Pellon ® single sided fusible sheerweight interfacing)
Multi-purpose thread in a coordinating color

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Sewing Instructions

Prep the Fabric
* Wash & dry your fabric.
* Trim any loose strings from the edges.
* Iron interfacing to the back of the fabric. Really this is optional but I strongly recommend it because I feel like it reinforces the fabric and makes it a little stiffer. Use interfacing to create a finished product that opens nicely and isn’t too floppy.

Body of Bag
* Fold your fabric over 16 inches, making sure the corners are clean 90 degree angles.
* Cut a 16” x 18” rectangle for the body of the bag.
* With the “right” (pretty) sides of fabric together sew a 1/2” seam around the sides and bottom of the bag, leaving the top unfinished.
* Press open the side seams so they’re flat for a few inches. This is just to make it easy to sew your top hem.
* The top hem is a two-part fold. First, fold the ragged edge down 1/2”, secure with a few pins and press into place. Remove the pins and fold the top edge down again, this time by 1”. This hides the ragged edge and makes the top hem more substantial. Press into place and secure by pins.
* Sew around the top hem of the bag being careful to hold the bag open so you don’t snag a part you didn’t intend to sew together. (I’ve done it before and it is no fun.)

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Handles
From the remaining fabric, cut two strips 3 1/2” wide x 18” long for the handles.
* Fold the handles lengthwise with “right” (pretty) sides of fabric together and lightly press so they’re easy to sew.
* At the sewing machine, re-open the pressed handles and lay them flat. Turn under the short end by 1/2”. Stitch across to finish short edge then re-fold lengthwise and stitch long side of each handle piece using a 1/2” seam allowance.
* Turn handles right side out and set aside.
* Back at the ironing board press your handle pieces so that they lay flat.
* To attach the handles turn the main part of the bag inside out and fold it in half lengthwise. From the center fold measure 2 1/2”and secure the handle using two straight pins. Turn the folded bag over and secure the other end of the handle in the same way. Follow with the other side of the bag.
* With right side facing down, sew the handle to the inside hem. Ever the optimist, I expect this baby will have to bear the weight of a mighty Halloween stash so I opted to reinforce by sewing across the top edge where the handle meets the hem and creating a rectangle by sewing up the sides of the strap as well.

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Congratulations! You are now the proud owner and creator of a trick-or-treat treasure bag that will last for years as part of your kiddo’s Halloween costumes and live forever in her memory as something special you made just for her or him. Do you have crafty ideas for Trick-or-Treat bags or other spooky Halloween crafts? If so, The Wilderness Girls want to hear about them. Please share in the comments below or on Pinterest.

Pumpkin Carving Party

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

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Rob and I hosted the other Wilderness Couples for a party at our house over the weekend. We’ve lived in this house for just over a year and put off hosting friends until we had the main living areas finished. Together, we’ve worked really hard over the last couple of months, crossing lots of to-dos off of our list and decided it was time to break-in the place. We thought it would be fun to host friends for a pumpkin carving party.

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I was really excited to decorate the house for the party. I was inspired by the bright colors and folk art of Dia de Los Muertos. We filled the house with tiny pumpkins, candles, brightly colored flowers, feathers, doilies and of course lots sugar skulls.

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We built an ofrenda using a vintage leather suitcase, thrifted fabric and tea light candles. In our invitation, we asked friends to bring photos of lost loved ones and fruit, which is a traditional offering. Everyone brought something to add to the shrine. As they placed the photos among the fruit and candles, they shared memories of their lost loved ones. Rachael even brought strawberries, her grandmother’s favorite.

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We served baked chicken taquitos with a creamy cilantro lime dipping sauce, a chopped green salad with avocado, roasted red peppers, corn and pepitas, spicy popcorn and chips with spicy queso blanco. For dessert, there were Mexican hot chocolate donuts, sugar cookies and lots of candy. Rob & I stocked our bar cart ahead of time so that guests could mix their own cocktails or use the recipe we featured on a chalkboard to concoct our drink of the night — an Apple Cider Margarita.

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Outside on our patio, the set-up was simple. We wrapped our new table in craft paper and set out pumpkins, carving tools and bowls (to collect sticky pumpkin guts). All of us ate, drank cocktails and carved pumpkins into the wee hours of the night. It was bliss.

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I’m so happy our first party in this house was a success. We love our home and feel really lucky to live here. It doesn’t hurt that we have such great friends either.

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Be sure to read this week’s Friday Links post, when I’ll share recipes for the delicious food we served!

Poppin’ Tags: Halloween at the Thrift Shop, Part 1

Monday, October 21st, 2013

As a woman, it’s tough to find a premade Halloween costume that isn’t too revealing, cheaply made, or completely uncomfortable. Because of this, the last couple of years, I have ventured to thrift shops and discount stores to get inspired, and create my own costumes. The quality of what you get is infinitely better than what costume companies make, and you usually end up with a more unique costume since you have to think “outside the box” and work with what you can find.

Last year I was obsessed with Honey Boo Boo. The moment the first show aired, I knew that I had to be her for Halloween. So, I hit up Last Chance and got a designer pink bridesmaid dress for $15, and then rounded out that find with online orders of white Mary Jane shoes, a tiara, a sash, and my very own version of her pig Glitzy. It was epic (and super comfortable).

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So, by now you have to be thinking “Jenny, how do I get started?” The key to a successful thrift shop Halloween costume is planning. Here are my tips on what you should do before you head out to the stores:

* Brainstorm characters that you would like to be for Halloween, and narrow down to 2 or 3 finalists. The reason you want to have 2 or 3 is that you may find that the first character you select is hard to find elements for, so it’s always good to have a back-up plan.

* Once you have selected your characters, make a full list of all the items you would need to purchase in order to make the costume.

* Review the list and cross off any items you might already have in your home or wardrobe.

You now have your shopping list.

When you are ready to start hitting up the thrift shops, plan a whole day, if possible, for your outing. Before you head out, map your nearest thrift stores and plan your route. Most likely you will have to travel to more than one shop to complete your list. And if all else fails, hit up the internet for those final pieces that are alluding you.

While you are shopping, be flexible. When I dressed as Margot Tenenbaum, I was really struggling with finding something to use for her signature brown fur coat. I ended up having to use a brown knit sweater coat. Was it ideal? No. Did it work? Absolutely. Iconic characters are a combination of certain elements, and so as long as those elements are similar, or provide the color/style impact, you don’t have to find exact replicas, and in fact, almost 100% of the time, you won’t.

Need some ideas to get started? I’ve got you covered! Below are costume element boards for two of my favorite female icons, Rosie the Riveter and Frida Kahlo. Below each image is a shopping list for each costume.

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1. Navy blue button-down short-sleeve shirt with collar (women’s or men’s version would work)
2. Blue jeans
3. Red & white polka dot bandana (a regular red bandana would work well too)
4. Black combat boots or Mary Janes
5. Red lipstick (hit up a drug store or your local dollar store for this item)

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1. Mexican embroidered dress (if you can’t find this, you could always do a bright floral dress, or go more casual and find an embroidered shirt and wear jeans)
2. Sandals
3. Bright artificial flowers for your hair
4. Black shawl
5. Red lipstick (hit up a drug store or your local dollar store for this item)
6. Large beaded/colorful earrings (you could also do plain gold earrings, just go big!)
7. Gold chain knotted necklace

In a future post, I will provide you with two more costume boards and shopping lists, so check back in, and happy thrifting!

Friday Finds: 10/18/13

Friday, October 18th, 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!

Help Davion Find His Family: WG Jenny shared this with me and ever since I read it I just can’t get this amazing Florida kid out of my mind. He makes me wish that I was emotionally and financially ready to parent a teenager. Someone out there will be the perfect parent(s) for Davion and I’m sharing the link to his story and Heart Gallery page in hopes that they find him sooner rather than later.

12 Uses for Disposable Chopsticks: My favorite? #2: Eat Cheetos without getting cheesy fingers. I love Flamin’ Hot Cheetos (guilty) but hate the red stains they leave behind. There will no longer be evidence of my Flamin’ Hot addiction!

Cher’s Signature Style: Recently, Jenny introduced me to Cher’s loony Twitter-ing. And lately, I can’t get enough of her! What a life she’s had. Always outspoken and fearless with fashion. I stumbled upon this article where she reminisces on many of her most infamous outfits.

Don’t Call Them Body Guards Anymore. Say “Protection Services”: While the whole pust is great, you MUST read the story she tells about Mat Hoffman about half-way down. I want to paste it up in places I can see it…everywhere.

Satiregram: Hysterical Instagram account made up of words depicting photos that we are guilty of posting on Instagram (mostly me).

Look at this Instagram: Started out as a lemon tart. Now it’s art. (Song parody.)

Bedtime: A recent study indicates that irregular bedtimes have a greater effect on kids’ behavior than how much sleep they get. Parents, here’s a compelling reason to stick to the bedtime routine!

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.

Gourmet S’Mores Bar

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

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One of my favorite memories from last year’s fall foliage trip was roasting marshmallows under the stars. We’d packed the fixings to make a traditional s’more — marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers.

This year, our accommodations were a tad less rustic, with no fire pit for a campfire. We did have a huge fireplace though, which called for a s’mores upgrade. I’ve always wanted to put together a s’mores bar and this was the perfect opportunity.

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I packed a variety of chocolate bars, marshmallows and sweet crackers. All of the chocolate bars came from World Market, they have a great selection with lots of unique flavors. It was really hard to choose! After pacing the aisles for a while, I landed on salted caramel milk chocolate, candied ginger and orange zest dark chocolate, Lindt milk chocolate, coconut dark chocolate and raspberry cream dark chocolate. I also picked up organic graham crackers, butter biscuits and vanilla, strawberry & toasted coconut marshmallows.

We had so much fun trying different combinations. Over the evening we each found a favorite flavor combo and took turns preparing our signature s’more for the other girls.

Here are our favorites:

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I think this would be a really fun dessert bar for a party; your guests will have a blast getting creative and testing different combinations. Feature the recipe for a few signature s’mores on a chalkboard and set out small takeout boxes so that guests can take home the ingredients of their favorite.

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Have you ever put together a s’mores bar before? Are you a s’mores purist? Be sure to tell us below in the comments!

Craving more fall foliage photos? Check out our photostream on Flickr.

Fall Foliage 2013: Where We Ate

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

The Wilderness Girls pride ourselves on being localvores (someone who eats/shops/does business locally, to use it in the broadest sense), and that holds true for our Fall Foliage trips as well!

It’s really easy to go to a chain that you know and are familiar with, but it’s so much more beneficial to the community you visit if you dine at a locally-owned restaurant and you often get better food quality and service to boot.

This year we had a good mix of 2012 favorites and new 2013 picks. Check out our restaurants of choice below.

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Beeline Café (Payson, AZ)
Located on the Beeline Highway is a little diner-style spot called Beeline Café. This has become our annual “kicking off the trip” breakfast spot that we hit before our first hike. The menu includes stick-to-your-ribs classics like biscuits and gravy, hearty omelets, oatmeal, as well as sweet creations like Cinnamon Roll French Toast (they use sliced cinnamon rolls instead of bread). The food is classic comfort and the people are genuinely nice (especially when asked for multiple photos of your group in various locations in the restaurant).

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Photo credit – Beer Search Party

Beaver Street Brewery (Flagstaff, AZ)
Right in the heart of the historic section of Flagstaff, and near the Northern Arizona University campus, this microbrewery/restaurant serves up great beer and American classics like pizza, burgers, chicken pot pie and sausage/brat platters. Our favorite item off the menu was the Beaver Street Brewery Fondue – cheddar cheese, onions and beer, with bread and veggies to dip. I would recommend getting a couple of fondues, or a fondue and side salads. We all agreed that after the fondue, we were not sure we could finish our meals.

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Photo credit – Yelp user Farrah. J.

The Sweet Shoppe & Nut House (Flagstaff, AZ)
After a long day of hiking, we stopped back in old town Flagstaff to browse the shops, and after walking by The Sweet Shoppe and getting a whiff of the chocolate inside, we were drawn in like moths to a flame. Since we were inside, we all decided we would get “just a piece of something.” It was well worth the splurge. In addition to a huge assortment of fudges and chocolates, they have chocolate covered potato chips, Oreos, pretzel rods, as well as huge caramel-covered apples and a gelato stand.

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Northern Pines (Flagstaff, AZ)
Just like The Beeline Café has become our first day of the trip breakfast spot, Northern Pines has become our last day of the trip breakfast spot. You cannot go wrong with anything on the menu. We have sampled everything from their multiple benedicts, to tamales and eggs, to pancakes and French toast and it’s all delicious. They even have a chicken fried steak burrito, which looked amazing when we saw another guest receive it, even though it was easily the size of her forearm. It’s a popular spot too, so get there early!

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Rock Springs Café (Black Canyon City, AZ)
Rock Springs Café, hands-down, has the best pie in the world. And you would never guess it, as it’s a small building/restaurant along the side of the I-17 going back to Phoenix. You can either stop in the bakery section and pick up a piece of (or whole) pie to go, or you can do like we do, and sit a spell in the café, and enjoy some comfort food, a piece of pie, and then order another for the road (and for each of The Wilderness Hubs). They have sandwiches, burgers, chili, green chili mac & cheese and fried pickles on the regular menu. And the pies run the gamut from fruit (both full crust and crumble), to cream pies, to meringues, to their signature pie – Jack Daniels pecan. It’s not too far from Phoenix, so it’s worth a day trip.

What are your favorite places to eat in Flagstaff, Sedona, or on the way? Share them in the comments below! We are always looking for new options for our next Fall Foliage trip!

Hungry for more fall foliage photos? Check out our photostream on Flickr.